June 29, 2016
Dear Dr. Bell, what are the best post workout snacks?
Thank you for this question! Actually, I love this question! It gives me a chance to keep the “Nutrition Nazis” from sleeping at night! To hear the “Food Fascists’” rant: “You should NEVER eat anything with sugar in it”. You might be tempted to put sugar on a list of poisons along with arsenic, hemlock, and cyanide!
In the IFPA Sports Nutrition Certification Course, you learned that sugar can be a critically needed nutrient in your exercise recovery and adaptation strategy. Can you sense the Nutrition Nazis’ blood pressure rising?
Let’s go one step further, several years ago the International Journal of Sports Nutrition reported the best thing for you to eat following an Intense Workout is a Snickers Bar and a Pepsi! Since that time, they have put chocolate milk on the list of top recovery drinks!
Did they report that just to keep the members of the “Cult of the Clean Eats” awake at night? No!
It’s simple Biochemistry! After an Intense Workout, you have run your targeted muscle groups out of SIMPLE Carbohydrates (Glucose/Sugar) and since Weight Training targets Type II, Anaerobic muscle fibers, replenishment through Aerobic Energy System is not appropriate. This means you have a narrow window of opportunity to replace the lost carbohydrate needed to begin the Recovery Process. Initial research indicated the window was 2 hours, now, some research indicates following Intense Training, you have 20 minutes to begin the Recovery Process! You need to RECOVER before your muscle/systems can ADAPT!
In some instances of very high intense competition requiring all-out, 100% effort, without immediate sugar/simple carbohydrate ingestion, you could delay Full Recovery for months!
Now in the interest of returning the “Eating Elitist” blood pressure to normal, consuming too much sugar is unhealthy. The only time sugar consumption is needed for an athlete is post-intense training sessions. In both the IFPA Personal Trainer and Sports Nutrition Certification, the IFPA Recommendation was no more than 10% of your caloric intake should be from simple carbohydrates (sugar). Many medical organizations recommend no more than 40 grams of sugar/daily as there are indications that even that low amount, which is the sugar content of one 12 ounce can of Pepsi, can cause an inflammatory response inside the body. Inflammation is the cause of all health and medical issues.
There are a few other important facts to be noted on sugar consumption. On the bad side: over consumption of sugar is a leading cause of the inflammatory process, leading to many chronic disease, disabilities, and dysfunctions, including heart disease, high blood pressure, obesity, cancer, and almost every other chronic disorder, as well as Premature Aging!
On the good side: eating clean all the time, meaning no sugar, little fat, etc., can cause a slow- down in Thyroid Hormone production. This is the physiological reason for a “Cheat Day” or a “Cheat Meal” once, or twice/week. This restores Thyroid Hormone Production, particularly of T-3 and T-4, which typically leads to a very strong and energized workout the day following your “Cheat”.
The best post-workout snacks? I agree with the JofSN, a Pepsi (made with real sugar) and a Snickers Bar is a good one. Anything made with High-Fructose Corn Syrup (HFCS) or artificial, zero calorie sweeteners is worse than worthless. Gatorade, fruit juice, sugary snacks will work, but you have to make sure it is REAL Sugar for it to have a Recovery Effect. And don’t forget to hydrate! You can lose a lot of water in a workout, you need to replace it quickly. For best effects on athletic performance, calculate the calories you burn during exercise and replace that amount. If FAT LOSS is your goal, replace 15-50%, dependent on your goals.
Your goal is to Workout-Recover-then Adapt to improve your performance. Proper use of sugar is essential to your long-term gains. Remember what you learned in your IFPA Courses, it is the calories you burn Post-Intense exercise that create fat loss more than the calories you burn while performing the exercise.