Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Endurance Athlete: Eating to refuel post workout!

Did you notice the title of this blog? 
It says eating to REFUEL post workout. It does not say eating to celebrate because you finished a hard workout.

Why do we work out hard? To reach goals, become faster, more fit, and be able to do more than we could yesterday.

In order to reach these goals to the best of our ability, we need to really be conscious of what we are putting in our bodies after a workout.

Let's say you just rode your bike for 2 hours then ran for 1 hour, including some serious intervals.
What should you eat after?
A peanut butter and banana sandwich, an apple, and low fat chocolate milk or a cheeseburger with fries and soda?
Source: http://4.bp.blogspot.com/_TTmHg_55RHU/S9I4e4_-b

Remember, you want to eat to provide some immediate energy and then some slow release energy. The immediate energy is ideally in a ratio of 2:1, 2 parts simple carbs and 1 part protein. It should be consumed as soon as possible after the workout. 

Your body is already taxed from the workout and is trying to recover from what you did. Should you really eat a giant fatty meal that diverts blood away from my muscles and focuses it instead on your gut trying to digest food, thereby extending how long it takes you to recover from the workout? 

Refueling your body with good nutrition is said to be particularly important for the same time as the actual workout. Meaning a 3h workout leads to 3h of refueling. Simple carbs in the beginning moving onto solid food including complex carbs, antioxidant rich vegetables, some protein, while maintaining a diet on the alkaline side of things.

It is nice to celebrate after a hard workout, but to celebrate with bad nutrition is like taking one step forward and two steps back. In the post workout celebration, alcohol will also have its negative impacts. If it has to be part, at least make it an antioxidant beverage, such as a hoppy beer or a glass of red wine. 

But wait, my Garmin/HRM watch said I burned X number of calories!! So two things about this statement:
1. According one study done, HRM have been shown to be only 75% accurate in calculating calorie expenditure. They typically overestimate calories burned by 12% or more depending on how you calculated your max HR and VO2max.
2. So let's say my Garmin told me I burned 2000 calories for my little workout above. Does that mean I now have a calorie deficit of 2000 calories that I need to replace? No! I need to take into account what I ate and drank pre-workout and during the workout. My calorie deficit and what I need to eat is actually much less.

Eat to train!

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