Do you need a post-workout snack?
Physical activity is really important for our bodies for many reasons such as increasing heart health, promoting blood sugar control, improving muscle mass, and better sleep quality. Some people choose to make working out a punishment for bad food patterns or dissatisfaction with their body image or weight. But exercise should be for increasing overall health, not just weight management. And this exercise can be in any form you like, such as walking, biking, swimming, or dancing!
Increasing muscle mass can also help promote a healthier metabolism. Some individuals believe they can boost their metabolism through eating certain foods or drinking certain drinks…but the only true way to increase your metabolism is to increase your muscle mass! Oh and maybe including HIIT workouts, check it out here.
I’m not a personal trainer by any means, I just enjoy working out at the gym! I have found what works for me based on a few other practices I’ve seen personal trainers suggest or do themselves. I try to weight train 2 days per week, and run about 1 day per week, and have recently been enjoying Orange Theory Fitness once a week as well. If I get in an extra weekend walk or enjoyable physical activity, cool. But I try to focus on just these 3-4 days with my schedule. And no, I don’t like to run. It’s not very fun at all. I don’t run fast and I don’t run far. You may never ever want to run and let me tell you, that is a-okay. But finding a form of physical activity that you enjoy can be an important part of your overall health and wellbeing. And as always, General Wellness is here to help you find your rhythm.
Okay, so what’s the deal with pre and post-workout snacks?? Do you need to be fueling before and after workouts?? First, decide what your goal is. Are you training to increase muscle mass or are do you also desire to lose some weight? Post-workout snacks are for building maximum muscle based on the carb:protein in the snack. This is good! Because you want to increase muscle mass for metabolism, right? Yes. BUT, you need to be working pretty hard to “earn” your post-workout snack. Otherwise, you are just putting in extra calories that you do not need. If weight loss is your goal, be sure to talk to a Registered Dietitian for a sustainable way to do so. But post-workout snacks may not be necessary for you with this goal. BUT it is important to replenish your muscle stores based on your form of exercise with your next meal (more on that below).
Carbs – carbs are important to replenish your muscle’s glycogen stores when working out. Think of your muscles as a tank that’s filled with glycogen (fancy carbohydrate storage form). When you workout, you’re draining the tank a little bit. Harder workout? Draining the tank a lot more! Fun fact: “hitting the wall” is actually your muscle’s glycogen stores being empty and therefore, out of energy for your workout.
So, you need to fill that tank back up. If your workout was good, but not really intense cardio or a very long duration, your next meal will probably suffice to replenish your tank. But if your workout was intense such as running for at least 30 minutes or a weight based workout for 60+ minutes, you may need a proper workout snack after to replenish your glycogen stores. Carbohydrates are more important when running and biking than just weight-based training.
Protein – protein helps give your body the amino acids you need to actually build the muscles you’re working so hard for! So it’s pretty obvious that you also need some protein in your post-workout snack. (Hint: it’s also a great idea to have protein at every meal no matter what) Protein is very important if you are doing resistance training (weight training). After weight training, you will most likely need a post-workout snack to give your body proper protein amounts to build back the protein you broke down. You should shoot for about 20 grams of protein after resistance training, more on that here.
“Okay so what do I eat for my post-workout snack then?” – a few studies have shown that an optimal carb:protein ratio is 2:1. There are a LOT of different snacks you can make to achieve this ratio. I have created energy bites here that will help you meet this ratio.
Also checkout a BONUS YouTube video posted of the recipe being created with my KitchenAid food processor on my youtube channel.
In summary, physical activity is important for overall health and can help maintain heart health, blood sugar control, and much more in your body. Physical activity such as resistance training can also help build muscle, which can in turn increase your metabolism. But, post workout snacks would really just depend on 1) the type of physical activity you are doing, 2) the duration of that activity, and 3) your goals. If you decide based on these that you are in need of a post-workout snack, remember the 2:! ratio of carbs to protein. Happy exercising, family.