It may be the last thing you feel like doing after working out, but, according to registered dietician Holly Grainger, you should eat a meal, or at least a snack, within an hour of a sweat session.
Not only that, but “what you eat after a workout matters,” insists Grainger.
Include both protein and carbs in the meal or snack (just don’t tell Suzanne Somers, queen of “don’t-EVER-mix-carbs-and-proteins”).
Grainger recommends the following:
- Smoothie – for when you don’t feel like having a meal. Throw some berries, a banana and low-fat milk or yogurt into the blender and you’re done. The dairy products give you both protein and carbs and the electrolytes in the bananas help your muscles recover from the beating you just gave them.
- Sandwiches work too. Restore your energy with the carbs in the bread, and then pile on some low-sodium cold cuts like turkey for your protein fix. Load on the lettuce, cucumbers and tomatoes to rehydrate. An egg sandwich works as well; the protein in the egg is a big boost, but Grainger reminds you that there’s zinc in them-thar eggs, which aids in metabolism.
- If you’re famished, realize that your body is in full recovery mode, so heed the hunger. Give yourself lots of nutrients with lean protein and carbs from roast chicken. Add a side of vegetables in olive oil for your heart and you’re good to go.
Energize before your workout
If you need to boost your energy level before your workout, try a glass of beet juice. Seriously – and here’s why.
Researchers in the UK gave male athletes either a 16-ounce glass of organic beetroot juice or a fake. The guys who drank the real thing were able to cycle for 16 percent longer than those who drank the faux beet juice. The researchers say that nothing else has this effect, including training.
If you can’t stand the taste of beets – trust me, I’m with you on that one – how about honey? Researchers at the University of Memphis Exercise and Sport Nutrition Lab say that eating honey before your workout steadies your blood sugar and insulin levels for longer than if you’d not eaten anything before you sweat.
Cynthia Sass, MPH, RD, writing in Health magazine, says that the study also found that honey boosts speed and endurance in professional cyclists.
They ate it before and at every 10 mile-mark during a 40-mile race. She suggests twirling the golden elixir on a spoon and opening wide or mix it into your oatmeal, smoothie or whatever else you typically eat before a workout.
What about you? Do you have a tried-and-true pre- or post-workout mangia routine? Share it, please – we’d love to hear about it.