It is not uncommon for active, fitness-minded young professionals to have a love/hate relationship with food. After a grueling session at the gym or an afternoon of activity, many YPs are worried that a snack or a meal could sabotage weight loss and performance efforts. However, the post-recovery meal that follows an intense workout is one of the most important meals for active YPs.
During exercise, our bodies cannot break down the energy stored in fat fast enough to use as fuel. Having adequate energy stores to fuel activity is therefore crucial to your performance. The energy that fuels our bodies during exercise comes from carbohydrates, both in the blood (what is commonly referred to as “blood sugar”) and in the liver and muscle. The carbohydrates that are stored in the liver and muscle are stored as glycogen; as we exercise, the glycogen is broken down into glucose and sent to the blood stream to quickly supply the muscles with the energy it needs to keep working.
Your post-workout meal is an opportunity to refuel depleted energy stores so that you are able to perform to your maximum potential next time you exercise. The post-workout meal is also important in helping rebuild muscle tissue that was damaged and broken down during exercise and replenish fluids so that your body can most effectively respond to the training you just performed.
If you can, replenish with a small snack 15 to 20 minutes after you finish exercising because this is when your muscles are most receptive to replenishment. Focus on real foods that will provide you with carbohydrates, protein, and other nutrients to support healthy body function and maximum recovery. Some ideas for post-workout snacks include chocolate milk or flavoured soymilk, dried fruit and nuts, and a peanut butter and banana sandwich. If you are feeling more adventurous, give the recipe below a try – it’s a portable post-workout snack that provides adequate carbohydrates and protein for optimal recovery. If you are eating a meal soon after your workout, focus on lean protein, plenty of colourful vegetables, and whole grains (e.g., large green salad topped grilled chicken and a whole grain roll; poached eggs on wholegrain toast with sauteed greens and raw veggies; stir fry with lean pork/beef/tofu and veggies).
1. Combine 1 cup peanut butter, â…“ cup honey, and 2 teaspoons of carob powder (or unsweetened cocoa powder).
2. Stir in ½ cup raisins and 2 tablespoons of unsweetened shredded coconut.
3. Stir in ½ cup semisweet chocolate chips. Refrigerate the dough for 1 to 2 hours.
4. Set aside ¼ cup sesame seeds, ¼ cup finely chopped nuts, and ½ cup unsweetened shredded coconut in separate bowls.
5. Using a spoon, scoop small heaps of the dough from the bowl and roll into 1 ¼ inch balls. Roll balls in coconut and continuing rolling into a more perfect shape.
6. Roll each finished ball in more coconut, sesame seeds, and chopped nuts.
7. Store in the fridge or freezer and take out as needed.
(Adapted from this recipe from Whole Foods)