After a workout, you want to refuel. Perhaps you’ll grab a bite to eat, drink water, or gulp down a sports drink to meet your calorie needs, but how much do you need? Sara Perlmutter, a dietitian with Goodlife Fitness, said it all depends on the intensity of your workout. She used people who walk on a treadmill for half an hour, in comparison to those who run on the machine for the same amount of time, as an example.
“They probably think that they worked out hard and they did, and they might associate the gym with a good workout, when in fact they may not have even had a good workout at the gym that qualifies having a lot more food.”
The European Journal of Clinical Nutrition revealed most people underestimate their required post-exercise calories. However, Perlmutter says it’s the opposite case for her clients who exercise at a recreational pace. She added people will also overestimate how much protein is required and will add it to everything, but the required amount relies on your fitness goals.
“Someone who is trying to lean out a little bit more is going to probably need a little less calories than someone who is trying to bulk up.”
She said it’s very important to re-hydrate after a workout. Perlmutter explained that for every pound lost an hour after a workout, about two cups of water are lost. She said intense workouts may require sports drinks, where as less intense ones just need water.
For post-workout snacks, she recommended combining carbohydrates and protein, such as having a banana with a tablespoon of peanut butter or drinking chocolate milk. Perlmutter recommended a 3:1 ratio of carbohydrates to protein, which she said most people are surprised about, although it is important to keep in mind.
“When you work out, you start to deplete your muscles of glycogen,” she explained, “glycogen is a stored form of carbohydrates, so if you don’t have enough carbohydrates, you don’t have enough glyocen to feed into your muscles.”