Replenishing Nutrients After a Workout

March 9, 2012 in Fitness, Health, Nutrition, Nutritionism, Weight Management by Mary Ireland

One common problem when people start exercising to lose weight is that they have a tendency to overcompensate for the calories they burn by eating a high calorie snack to give them energy or by drinking a high calorie sports drink to replace fluids and electrolytes. For the most part, people who are in the low to moderate exercise range don't need to be overly concerned with replenishing their bodies after exercise.

“People have gotten the message that they have to eat something,” Melinda M. Manore, a sports nutritionist at Oregon State University was part of a group of experts who wrote a position paper on nutrition and performance for the American College of Sports Medicine. According to Manore, "They guzzle an energy drink or eat a sports bar, but that doesn’t help. And for the many who are trying to lose weight, the habit just adds extra calories."

There are many factors (such as what you ate before exercising, how hard your workout is, how long your workout is, how hot it is and how humid it is) that determine what you need to eat or drink after exercise. Dr. Manore states, “If you can run six-minute miles or five-minute miles and you are going out for an hour, you do not need to be eating an energy bar during the workout.” Even athletes who are fast and competitive may not always need to eat during a workout. Moderate athletes need to eat and drink after the workout, she said, but a healthy meal with plenty of fluids is sufficient.

Anyone exercising for two hours or more does need glucose to sustain their energy balance. That means eating carbohydrates before, and perhaps during, the workout. Not getting sufficient carbohydrates before or during a long workout risks poor performance, said Dan Benardot, a sports nutrition researcher at Georgia State University. A long workout (a run that lasts more than two hours, for example) is “an enormous drain on blood sugar.”

When the body runs out of glucose for fuel, it will start breaking down muscle. Dr. Benardot’s research indicates that athletes do best when they never let themselves have more than a 400-calorie deficit during the day. That is, if you expend 1,500 calories on a two-hour run, you offset it with at least 1,100 calories in food that day. Note that you don't have to replace all of the calorie that you burn.

You can save money and nourish your body best be eating healthy, nutritious meals. More directly to the point, to best replenish your body, avoid sports drinks, vitamin drinks, energy bars, energy "goo" etc. Even if advertisers contend that these products are what you need to replenish your post-workout body, Dr. Grandma has written numerous blog posts on the dangers of nutritionism -- and nutritionism is what most of these specialty items are about. Keeping hydrated with water and eating healthy food is important. The Livestrong website recommends apricots, bananas or raisins as good foods to replace potassium, if necessary. Before adding sodium to your diet, you might want to calculate how much sodium you already have in your diet. Most people have too much salt in their diet anyway.

Dr. Grandma's muffin recipes make an excellent pre- or post-workout snack. You can add apricots, bananas or raisins to your muffins. Dr. Grandma has a lot of other healthy and nutritious recipes for meals that will sustain you through your workout. Try some today!