Post Exercise Nutrition

by Bethany Vessey, Registered Dietitian on February 22, 2012

Glycogen is the body’s first and immediate source of energy!! During exercise, especially high intensity sessions such as ours, your body uses glycogen as its main energy source. It can take a minimum of 20 hours to replenish your glycogen stores after a exercise session and up to a max of 24-48 hours to fully replenish muscle glycogen, depending on the amount of carbohydrates consumed within that that time and the intensity of your workout.

Ideally your post-exercise meal should contain carbohydrates, protein, fat, and water and should be consumed within the first 30 minutes after your workout! A two hour delay in post exercise carbohydrate consumption has been shown to reduce the amount of glycogen resynthesis by 50%. This would be significant if you are planning to workout the next day!

The goals of a post exercise meal/snack should be to promote rapid and complete muscle and liver glycogen resynthesis, repair muscle tissue and rehydration. If muscle and liver glycogen stores are not fully restored before your next exercise session and your are not fully rehydrated then you are at a greater risk for early fatigue and decrease sport performance during your next workout and therefore not allowing yourself to get the most out of your workout!

To adequately restore glycogen stores before the next training session it is recommend to consume consume 1g/kg of carbs, predominately from the moderate to high glycemic index ranges, within the first 30 minutes post exercise.  The best rule of thumb is to consume 4-1 of carbs to protein post exercise!

Protein consumed within the first 1-2 hours post exercise has also been show to be beneficial is post exercise recovery. It has been shown to be beneficial to have at least that 8-10 grams of protein post exercise.

Ideally to determine the right amount of carbohydrates, protein, fat, and water needed for proper replenishment would require a more individualize analysis; however, I have provided some example meals and snacks below, which would be great post or pre exercise options. These examples will help to ensure your body receives the nutrition is needs after your workout!

Berry Delicious Smoothie!!!! (1 Serving)
1 carton (6 oz)  low fat Blueberry yogurt
1 to 1 1/2 cups milk/soy milk
3/4 cup of frozen whole mixed berries
1/2 cup of frozen banana chunks
15 gram serving of protein powder
1 tbsp of ground flax seed (or 1 tsp of flaxseed oil)

Add all the ingredients above into a blender and blend together. To thin out the smoothie feel free to add more milk!

Yummy Chicken Wrap (1 Serving)
1 tsp olive oil
1 tbsp chopped onion, raw
1 tsp garlic, raw
1 /2 breast chicken breast, cooked
1/4 cup bell pepper, green, raw
1/4 cup pieces mushroom, raw
1 large wrap, tortilla, whole wheat
1 tbsp hummus
1 pickle (9.5 cm long) pickles, cucumber, dill, low sodium

Sauté cooked chicken in olive oil with onion and garlic for about 2-3 minutes, then add peppers and mushrooms to pan and sauté for another 2-3 minutes. Once Chicken is warm and veggies are cooked but still a little crisp set pan aside. Spread hummus down the center of the wrap and top with meat mixture from the pan and chopped dill pickle (optional). Wrap and Enjoy!!!

Barbecue Chicken Pita Pizza (1 Serving)
1 pita bread, whole-wheat
75 g chicken breast, boneless, skinless (raw weight)
1 tbsp barbecue sauce
30 g mozzarella cheese, partially skim (18%M.F)
2 tbsp chopped pineapple
1 tbsp chopped bell pepper, red, yellow or orange
1. Cut chicken into pieces. Grill or pan-fry in olive oil on medium-high heat until chicken reaches an internal temperature of 165F.
2. Preheat oven to 350F.
3. Spread barbecue sauce evenly over pita bread.
4. Spread cheese over sauce and then top with cooked chicken, pineapple and peppers.
5. Bake on a cookie sheet until cheese is melted and edges are golden brown.
6. Let sit for 5 minutes before enjoying.

EXAMPLE SNACK IDEAS (recommend to bring this option with you to class so that you can eat them within your 30 minutes window of opportunity)

Rice Crackers and Hummus
15 rice crackers
2 tbsp of chickpea hummus

Yogurt Parfait!
1/2 cup greek yogurt
1/2 cup frozen berries
10 almonds
Mix all ingredients together and ENJOY!

Tuna salad on Crackers
3 Ryvita Crackers
1/2 can of tuna
1 stalk of celery, chopped
1 slice of red onion chopped
1 tbsp of low fat mayo
Mix tuna, celery, red onion, and mayo. Then place on crackers and enjoy!

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