After an intense, calorie-burning workout most of us are starving and ready to chow down. However, if you’re putting in the time and dedication to building muscle and losing fat, you need to put the same amount of time and dedication into choosing the right foods post-workout.
When you reach for foods with the wrong ingredients it’s going to negate all of the hard work you’ve just put in. All of your efforts would be wasted. Boo to that.
Recently there was a lot of hype in the media due to a research study from the University of Montana in the United States. The study took 11 athletes, had them fast for 12 hours, and then had them pedal bikes for 90 minutes. They gave half of the athlete’s sports performance drinks and power bars post-workout, and the other half fast food (burger, fries, and Coke). The end result was a pretty even amount of calories, protein, fats, and carbohydrates consumption.
However, this study only looked at replenishing your body’s glycogen, the storage form of carbohydrates after an intense workout. Our bodies use both glycogen and fat for energy. Most of us could go for days before we use up all of our fat, but glycogen gets used up much faster and needs to be replenished. If you’re a hardcore athlete and you deplete your glycogen levels regularly, it’s good to know that you have various ways to replenish it that will more or less give you equal results.
The highly important thing to note here, however, is that glycogen recovery is one thing, protein synthesis is another.
When you eat a hamburger after a workout you will successfully replenish the glycogen. However, all the fat from the hamburger is going to slow down your digestion, thus storing more fat.
The nutrition content of an average hamburger is the following:
Amount per 100 grams
Fat: 14 grams
Protein: 17 grams
Carbohydrates: 24 grams
This is based on a 2,000 calories-per-day diet. If you’re looking to lose weight, you need to burn 3,500 calories to lose one pound.
Let’s look at an example: If a 140-pound woman runs up and downstairs, she can burn 9 calories per minute. She would have to run up and down the stairs for about 33 minutes to burn the calories of a hamburger. But we still have to consider the amount of fat in the burger and how her body will metabolize the food. Breaking even with the calorie amount is not enough.
We all have our vices. If you’re craving a hamburger post-workout just indulge wisely. Go for lean, organic grass-fed beef. If you want the buns or bread to go with it make sure it’s made with whole grains. Or opt for no bread at all! These small actions will go a long way.
And of course, keep the burgers to a minimum. If you’re training a lot, it’s much better to restore your body with lean proteins like fish or chicken, whole foods like vegetables and whole grains, and natural sugars that come from fruits and other whole foods.
Our time is precious. Don’t throw away your hard efforts and time you put into your fitness training. Eat smart.