During exercise, your body taps the fuel stored in your muscles known as glycogen for energy. After you've cranked out that last rep, your muscles are depleted of their glycogen stores and broken down. Eating (or drinking) something that combines protein and carbohydrates 30 minutes to an hour after your workout refills energy stores, builds and repairs your muscles that were broken down, and helps keep your metabolism burning strong.
The sooner you start refueling, the better off you'll be. Research shows that your body's ablity to refill muscle stores decreases by 50 percent if you wait to eat just two hours after your workout compared to eating right away. Try to plan ahead and bring your recovery drink to the gym, or pack a snack to eat when you're finished.
What to Eat After Your Workout
According to the Journal of the International Society of Sports Medicine, consuming protein and a little carbohydrate is best immediately after exercise. Here are some foods you can eat after training sessions to help speed up recovery, maximize exercise benefits, and help maintain lean muscle to aid in weight loss.
• Protein shake made with half of a banana, one scoop of protein powder, almond milk, and hemp seeds (excellent protein source)
• Salad with roasted chickpeas (1/2 cup), l light olive oil and vinegar
• Sautéed or steamed vegetables (1 cup) with non-GMO tofu (1/2 cup)
* Quinoa bowl (1 cup) with black berries (1
cup) and pecans (1/4 cup)
• Multi-grain bread (2 slices) with raw peanut butter (2 tablespoons) and agave nectar
Whether you eat or don't eat before exercise, research shows the body burns the same amount of fat. However, you can actually cause muscle loss if you regularly work out on an empty stomach. Here's why: When you're hungry, your body goes into survival mode and draws protein from muscle instead of from your kidneys and liver, where the body normally looks for protein. When this happens, you lose muscle mass, which can ultimately slow your metabolism and make it harder for you to lose weight. Plus, if you exercise on an empty stomach, you're not giving yourself the fuel you need to power through an intense training session.
What to Eat Before Your Workout
The best pre-workout foods contains some form of complex carbohydrate and a protein. Here are som snacks to keep
energized during workouts without being weighed down:
* Small sweet potato with steamed or lightly salted broccoli in olive oil (1 cup)
* Banana with almond butter (2 tablespoons)
* Multi-grain crackers (10) with hummus (3 tablespoons)
* Oatmeal (1/2 cup) with berries (1 cup), sweetened with stevia or agave