How athletes should eat – part 4: After exercise

Posted on: March 31st, 2015 by markrobinson

Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3

Consuming a carbohydrate snack within 30 minutes after training will allow the body to start replenishing glycogen stores in the body. Additionally, consuming a couple of mixed meals high in carbohydrates within six hours after training or a competition ensures that the muscles continue with the glycogen restoration.

To completely (or near completely) refill energy in the muscle, eat within 30 minutes after exercise and then eat small meals two hours and again at four hours after the workout.

Choose high-carbohydrate foods such as bagels, pasta, fruits, yogurts, cereal with low-fat milk, peanut butter, sports drinks, granola bars, French toast, sub sandwiches, baked potatoes with chili, smoothie made with fruit, fruit juice, yogurt, and frozen yogurt

Include a small amount of protein to aid in muscle recovery and promote muscle growth.

Be sure to hydrate after a workout or game. Drink 3 cups of fluid for each pound lost during the competition or training.

Key points

Food is fuel and athletes should not come to practice or games without having had enough food to support the energy requirements for their sport. To keep athletes properly fueled and have protein needs met, use the EAT guidelines:

Eat breakfast. It is the best way to start the day well fueled. Include foods that contain carbohydrates and protein such as non-fat milk, yogurt, or eggs.

Add carbohydrates and protein to post-exercise meals. Some energy bars provide carbohydrates to replenish muscle glycogen stores and protein to help build and repair muscles.

Toss the supplements. Athletes should rely on protein from food sources first, instead of supplements. This helps ensure that diets are balanced for health and performance. In addition to meat sources of protein, dairy products, nuts, and seeds are all rich sources of protein and can easily be added to any meal or snack.


*** Easy way to judge dehydration: Remember to check the color of your urine. Urine that is dark gold in color indicates dehydration. Urine similar in color to pale lemonade or weak tea is a sign of a hydrated athlete. DO NOT RELY ON THIRST AS AN INDICATOR. For best results, keep a bottle of fluid available when working out and drink as often as desired, ideally every 15-20 minutes.


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