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RUSSELL_40 Posts: 16,826
3/26/14 9:52 A

Extra protein after a workout, or even extra carbs, would mean that you did not plan enough protein to build muscle, or enough carbs to fuel your body. Most of us have a surplus of both, and the workout is meant to burn off some of these. Protein, and carbs are calories. We want to use all that we consumed, and have a caloric deficit.

Since most of us will have more protein or carbs within a few hours of any workout, and most likely do nothing so strenuous to use up all of our protein or carbs, there is no reason to eat a pre- or post-workout snack. We knew the workout was going to happen, and it was calculated into you caloric range. Those ranges include the proper protein, and carbs to take care of your needs, including what you burned during your planned workouts.

The only reason you might need to refuel is if you ran a half marathon, or something so strenuous, that you couldn't physically eat enough in your 3-5 meals a day. So you have to have an extra meal, and so why not have it directly after you finish the exercise that caused this. If you bike 50 miles, and have no glycogen, you will not have any problem " choking down " some carbs. You will want to.

For protein, I can't think of an equivalent. Even when I powerlifted, I would eat some protein afterwards, but I never felt bad, or felt like I needed to replenish protein. I just knew I had to eat a certain amount of protein, and rest.

So if you don't feel worn out and physically weak, and the workout was planned, then your normal protein, and carbs will cover your needs. Have some carbs if you feel worn out, and think you can't wait to the next meal, but don't feel it is mandatory, and understand that any protein or carbs that you eat that are extra, will hurt your weight loss goals. They both count as 4 calories per gram, so if the workout was planned , and you are at a 500 calorie daily deficit, eating a 250 calorie snack, even if you feel the need to, will cut weight loss in half, if it is more than was planned.

This can be a common problem with working out, especially for weight loss. We try to use exercise for weight loss, and then decide we need more protein, but that affects the diet, and we just undid whatever calories we burned off. So if you find the need to add protein, or carbs after a workout.. make sure you subtract it from one of your other meals, unless the workout was above and beyond what you had planned to burn.

KGAULT1967 Posts: 6
3/25/14 11:01 P

Thanks to all! I feel better knowing I don't have to choke something down after a short workout

TIME_TO_SHINE1 SparkPoints: (12,974)
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Posts: 437
3/25/14 11:55 A

I am glad that I found this. I feel like I crave protein after I work out no matter what I do. Knowing that I don't have to have it is a nice thing to know.

WAYCAT Posts: 1,012
3/25/14 12:24 A

CoachDean, that helps alot - many thanks for the information. I shall certainly be making sure I get adequate carbs and protein post-workout from now on.

Thanks again.

SP_COACH_DEAN SparkPoints: (115,343)
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3/24/14 1:35 A


Carbs are the primary source for replacing the fuel stored in muscles (it's called glycogen), regardless of whether the workout is cardio or strength training. But both forms of exercise can also break down muscle tissue, and your body needs protein to repair and replace that, as well as to add new muscle mass.. Typically, strength training is more associated with muscle tissue breakdown, which is why people who do tough strength workouts tend to eat more protein. But even with cardio, having a diet adequate in protein makes it easier for your body to avoid breaking muscle protein down for fuel, which means you'll burn more fat during your cardio workout, and reduce the amount of lean muscle lost during your weight loss efforts. Most of the time, a ratio of 65-75% carbs and 25-35% protein in your post-workout meal should do the trick.

Hope this helps.

Edited by: SP_COACH_DEAN at: 3/24/2014 (01:37)
WAYCAT Posts: 1,012
3/24/14 12:44 A

Sorry to jump in here, but I was glad to see this topic as it prompts me to ask a question of my own that I have never really been able to find a definitive answer to.

When one says "workout", what exactly constitutes said workout?

By that I mean, is one referring to strength or cardio?

For example, I understand about the need to replenish protein after heavy lifting, because it helps the muscles repair and replenish.

But what about cardio? Is protein still as important, or would carbs be more important?

If I do an hours cardio, for example, would a more card-based post-workout snack be more beneficial?

And if I do a shorter cardio session then followed by lifting, would a more protein-based snack be better?

Every time I read about what to eat after a workout, most articles seem to be referring to lifting as opposed to cardio, so I'm really quite unsure as to what would be best to eat to re-fuel following the two different workouts!

I hope that made some sense to someone, and would appreciate any insight.

Many thanks!

ZURICHMAN SparkPoints: (1,775)
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3/23/14 10:45 P

I would agree with what Coach Dean said. Unless you have done a 2-3 hr. intense workout you should be able to replace everything within 24 hrs. If you need to replace the carbs/proteins it seems to work better for me if I replace them within the 1st 30 minutes after the exercise.

SP_COACH_DEAN SparkPoints: (115,343)
Fitness Minutes: (241,037)
Posts: 15,281
3/23/14 10:21 P

It depends on your workout. There aren't many situations where it's really crucial to have something to eat shortly after a regular workout, unless you feel like you need it. As long as your overall diet is OK, most people who workout for up to an hour or even two can efficiently replace their muscle fuel and avoid excessive muscle loss with their normal diet over the next 24 hours. But if you do very long and intense exercise, and/or you have multiple events spread out over several hours and need to perform at your best in all of them, then it's important to refuel to suit those needs. Since your body is most efficient at replacing used up muscle glycogen during a roughly 2-hour window after the activity, that's the best time to eat something that includes some carbs and protein. But it can do that job just fine over 24 hours for people who exercise moderately. So you can pretty much suit yourself when deciding when to eat.

The same may not be true about hydration, though. Even a fairly short session that involves heavy sweating can mean you need water soon after.

Hope this helps.

KGAULT1967 Posts: 6
3/23/14 9:59 P

I understand that you should have a small amount of some sort of protein after a workout to help rebuild muscles. But most of the time I don't even feel like putting anything in my important is this really?

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