Brooklyn, NY

How to Fuel AFTER a Workout


by Amanda Jane Snyder

The results are in the details, but the last thing I want you to be overthinking and stressing about is the details.

The details should be habitual, because after all, we're only as good as our habits, our systems, and our routines.

Let's make our workouts as easy as they can possibly be by properly FUELING ourselves in a way that enhances performance.

One way to enhance our performance is by eating the proper food AFTER we exercise to refuel our energy stores and depleted glycogen and to promote muscle protein synthesis.

Refueling our bodies after exercise is a key factor to reaching our goals and for optimal results.

Pictured above is a vegan seitan steak coming in at 30g of protein per serving, 1/2 cup of white rice, and grilled asparagus. Yes please! But does this align with how we should propely be refueling after exercise?

Let's get down to the nitty gritty of macronutrients and how they play a role in what we should be eating after a workout.

Carbohydrates, Proteins, and Fats are the three macronutrients that our foods consists of, and each of them takes a different amount of time for our body to process and digest. Carbs take 1-2 hours to digest being the fastest macronutrient for our body to process, whereas protein comes in at 3-4 hours, and fat can take up to 6 hours for our body to process.

With those ideas in mind, we can consider exactly what we would want to consume after a workout.

"But does it depend on the type of exercise?"

Great Q! You might not want to refuel the same way for running as you would for weight training. So let's examine different modalities of exercise and discuss what might be best.

Cardio Endurance

For more endurance exercise like running, biking, or swimming, carbs are definitely going to be your friend in general, and adequate muscle glycogen stores will help prevent fatigue and muscle soreness, but carbs especially will be helpful post workout.

According to the Academy of Nutrition & Dietetics Sports Nutrition Care Manual if you're exercising for long distance and are a serious endurance athlete, no later than 2 hours after exercise is your optimal time to consume high quality carbs and lean protein. Carbs should be consumed at 1-1.2g per kg of bodyweight every hour for 4-6 hours post exercise. I know that sounds kind of extra. This advice is super important especially for endurance athletes, but if you're just running or biking for fun and health, just try and have an adequate amount of carbs after your session! Remember, that number is per KG of bodyweight, not LB. For example, if you're 150lbs, your weight is 68kg. A 1/2 cup of white rice has 45g, 8 asparagus has approximately 6.5g, and 100g of seitan has approxiamately 16g of carbs. Altogether that's 67.5g of carbs! A perfect meal for after a run. For protein, .25-.3g of protein/kg of bodyweight is a good amount to aim for after an intense cardio endurance session. For that same 150lb person, that's only 17g of protein which is easily made in our above post workout example. You can also go for a protein powder mixed in a smoothie for an easy meal to go.

Resistance Training

Resistance Training can include weight lifting, yoga, pilates, and even barre class. We might refuel for resistance training a bit differently as our body doesn't deplete as much glycogen in a resistance training workout as it would in an intense cardio session. The key difference is optimizing timing for muscle protein synthesis. Your resistance training session has torn and broke down your muscles. It's necessary to refuel properly especially if hypertrophy (muscle growth) is the goal.

According to the Academy of Nutrition & Dietetics Sports Nutrition Care Manual, if you are able, refueling should start immediately after exercise or at the latest 30-45 min after. Similarly to endurance exercise, the best foods to consume prior to exercise are high quality carbs and protein. Carbs should be consumed at 1-1.2g per kg of bodyweight every hour for 4-6 hours post exercise and 20-30g of protein is optimal for maximum benefits in muscle retention and growth. Our above meal fits well into this post workout fuel as well!

Bottom line, refueling your body is key and refueling it with high quality foods will always be best. Nutrient timing is imporant, especially for resistance training, so be sure to grab something, even if it's a quick protein smoothie to optimize your training!

Amanda Jane Snyder is a Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist, Corrective Exercise Specialist, Certified Personal Trainer, and Mindset Coach living in Brooklyn, NY. She has been vegan for 4 years. She specializes in Strength and Conditioning for Actors, Singers and Dancers.

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Amanda is a Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist, Certified Personal Trainer, Group Fitness Instructor and Lifestyle/Mindset Coach! In the midst of the ever-changing fitness industry chock full of fad diets, Amanda uses her program ForeverFit to help clients find true success through habit change, routine, and making health and fitness apart of their LIFESTYLE! Amanda is powered by plants!

Brooklyn, NY

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