You grab your gym bag and a bottle of Gatorade and head out the door feeling prepared. According to all the ads, sports drinks are key to refueling after your workout. And be honest – who hasn’t secretly channeled their favorite celebrity athlete as they guzzle down a Powerade?
The commercials do have one thing right: hydration and nutrients are crucial after exercise. Unfortunately, most sports drinks are little more than Kool-Aid for grown-ups. Neon blue and syrupy sweet is never the way to go to get the protein and complex carbs needed for muscle repair!
In fact, flooding your system with simple sugars after a workout is a surefire way to hang on to your fat stores. (Kind of defeats the purpose, doesn’t it?) During vigorous exercise, your muscles burn glucose for energy, which is an important step in burning fat later. However, it can also cause your body to crave sugar, which is why ultra-sweet sports drinks start to look appealing.
Here’s the problem: even the most strenuous, extended workout only calls for around 15 grams of complex carbohydrates afterward.
In comparison, a 20-ounce bottle of regular Gatorade contains about 45 grams of carbs, over 90% of which are sugars. That’s a massive burst of glucose, guaranteed to crash your system and leave you feeling exhausted and starving. It also gives your body something quick and easy to use for energy, meaning you keep your belly fat and burn that Gatorade instead.
So what are your options? To stay energized while you work out, nature’s original hydrator is still one of the best – instead of sports drinks, grab some water!
If you prefer your H2O with a little flavor, try adding one or more of these yummy (preferably organic) ingredients to your water bottle before you exercise:
- Lemon or lime slices
- Wedges of fresh grapefruit or orange*
- Handful of berries*
- Thinly sliced peach or nectarine*
- Cantaloupe chunks*
- Chopped fresh mint, basil, or lemon verbena
- Guava or star fruit slices*
- Cucumber rounds
There’s endless flavor combos to be had, and they all provide the hydration you require without any chemical-laced sugar bombs!
Within 45 minutes after the workout, high quality easy protein like a protein shake (pea, rice, pea+rice, whey, beef, etc) and some fruit, rice, potatoes etc would be perfect! After your post-workout shake or easy-to-digest meal, a regular meal can be eaten with some more fats and fiber. Wait until at least an hour after your workout for fats and fiber though, as these slow down digestion (usually a good thing to keep you full!), which you don’t want right after a workout, when your muscles need those easy carbs and protein to refuel right away!