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The Best Post-Workout Fuel

Today’s post comes from ((305)) junkie and dietitian Chelsey Amer, RD. Learn more about Chelsey’s nutrition practice and healthy food blog here and be sure to stop by ((305)) on February 8th at 9:30am to learn more about pre- and post-workout nutrition with Chelsey!

You may come to ((305)) to get strong and fit, to learn some new dance moves or to let loose after a long day on that corporate grind, but one thing is for sure...you’re shaking dat booty, dripping sweat as you twerk, and burning tons of calories. Whether your goal in joining the dance party is to reveal that six-pack, feel fierce AF or just to have fun dancing it out with your besties (or maybe all three), how and when you fuel your body after your workout is almost as important as doing the moves themselves.

Yup, you heard me right! You probably don’t realize it, but what you eat and when you eat it plays a huge role in how high your high knees are, how fast you can shake dat booty, and how difficult that sprint feels!

So here are my top 3 tips for WHAT you should be eating and WHEN you should be eating it to optimize your ((305)) workout:

1. Eat ASAP after your workout, but especially within the 2-hour window of opportunity After a vigorous workout like ((305)) where you’re using all of your major muscle groups and sweating like crazy, it’s best to eat something immediately after your sweat sesh to jumpstart your post-workout recovery. Ideally, you would eat a well-balanced meal within 30 minutes of your cool down, but if that’s not possible make sure you do eat a snack within 30 minutes and a meal within two to three hours after that. This time is critical to recharge your batteries!

1. Eat ASAP after your workout, but especially within the 2-hour window of opportunity

After a vigorous workout like ((305)) where you’re using all of your major muscle groups and sweating like crazy, it’s best to eat something immediately after your sweat sesh to jumpstart your post-workout recovery. Ideally, you would eat a well-balanced meal within 30 minutes of your cool down, but if that’s not possible make sure you do eat a snack within 30 minutes and a meal within two to three hours after that. This time is critical to recharge your batteries!

2. Memorize this equation: Carbs + Protein = the optimal post-workout combo of nutrients! So what should you eat to recharge your batteries? A combination of carbohydrates and protein is ideal to replace the energy stores you burned during your sweat sesh to promote muscle recovery. Research shows that a 3:1 or 4:1 ratio of carbs to protein is best. Here are some quick snack options, all around 250 calories (so you won’t undo the effects of your calorie-scorching workout either!): - One-half cup oatmeal with peanut butter - Greek yogurt with a cup of berries and a sprinkle of granola - A medium sweet potato with peanut butter or Greek yogurt - A slice of whole grain toast topped with peanut butter and a banana - A smoothie made with 1 banana, 1/2 cup milk, 1/4 cup Greek yogurt and a handful of berries Then, at your next meal be sure to balance your plate with protein and healthy carbs again. Like I tell most of my clients, divide your plate in half, fill half of it with veggies, one-quarter of it with lean protein (like fish, eggs or grilled chicken) and the other half with a fiber-rich carbohydrate, such as quinoa, brown rice, beans or lentils. But most importantly, listen to your body’s hunger and satiety cues to avoid overeating, which will negate those calories you scorched earlier in the day! 

2. Memorize this equation: Carbs + Protein = the optimal post-workout combo of nutrients!

So what should you eat to recharge your batteries? A combination of carbohydrates and protein is ideal to replace the energy stores you burned during your sweat sesh to promote muscle recovery. Research shows that a 3:1 or 4:1 ratio of carbs to protein is best.

Here are some quick snack options, all around 250 calories (so you won’t undo the effects of your calorie-scorching workout either!):

- One-half cup oatmeal with peanut butter

- Greek yogurt with a cup of berries and a sprinkle of granola

- A medium sweet potato with peanut butter or Greek yogurt

- A slice of whole grain toast topped with peanut butter and a banana

- A smoothie made with 1 banana, 1/2 cup milk, 1/4 cup Greek yogurt and a handful of berries

Then, at your next meal be sure to balance your plate with protein and healthy carbs again. Like I tell most of my clients, divide your plate in half, fill half of it with veggies, one-quarter of it with lean protein (like fish, eggs or grilled chicken) and the other half with a fiber-rich carbohydrate, such as quinoa, brown rice, beans or lentils. But most importantly, listen to your body’s hunger and satiety cues to avoid overeating, which will negate those calories you scorched earlier in the day! 

3. Hydrate! Hydrate! Hydrate! If you’re taking a 55-minute booty shaking cardio class you likely only need to re-hydrate with plain ol’ water so keep your bottle in hand during and after class (hello water breaks!) Save the cals and skip sugary electrolyte replacement drinks, unless your workout lasts longer than two hours.  Not to share TMI, but you want your urine to be pale yellow before and after your workout. If it’s darker in color you likely didn’t hydrate enough which can impede your performance and exercise tolerance. To figure out exactly how much water you need to be drinking you can weigh yourself before and after your workout. If there’s greater than a 2% change in your weight then you likely didn’t drink enough water. And about that post-workout happy hour? Alcohol can exacerbate dehydration because of its diuretic effect, but if you don’t want to skip out on the fun be sure to adequately hydrate with H2O first, slowly sip your cocktail (and get something to eat!), and keep the water nearby all night long!  

3. Hydrate! Hydrate! Hydrate!

If you’re taking a 55-minute booty shaking cardio class you likely only need to re-hydrate with plain ol’ water so keep your bottle in hand during and after class (hello water breaks!) Save the cals and skip sugary electrolyte replacement drinks, unless your workout lasts longer than two hours. 

Not to share TMI, but you want your urine to be pale yellow before and after your workout. If it’s darker in color you likely didn’t hydrate enough which can impede your performance and exercise tolerance. To figure out exactly how much water you need to be drinking you can weigh yourself before and after your workout. If there’s greater than a 2% change in your weight then you likely didn’t drink enough water.

And about that post-workout happy hour?

Alcohol can exacerbate dehydration because of its diuretic effect, but if you don’t want to skip out on the fun be sure to adequately hydrate with H2O first, slowly sip your cocktail (and get something to eat!), and keep the water nearby all night long!

 

Disclaimer: What you should eat is highly individualized so keep in mind these are general recommendations! 

How do you refuel pre & post-class? Share with us in the comments below.

How and when you fuel your body after your workout is almost as important as doing the moves themselves.