This post was developed in partnership with Florida Citrus. All opinions expressed are my own.
As we head into warmer weather (finally!), more of us will be participating in a variety of types of physical activity. The warmer weather just makes exercising so much more accessible – for me at least. You definitely will NOT find me trying to get some KMs in, during a snowstorm.
How you will find me active this summer: training for another half marathon, doing yoga, playing soccer and bike riding. As you can see, I love participating in a few different activities. How I should refuel after each of these activities, will vary widely.
In fact, most of us continue to make a number of mistakes when refueling after exercise. I see this in my practice, but also with peers. In order to reap the benefits of a workout, we need to refuel properly.
Let me guide you through principals to follow for refueling properly after different types of workouts, along with common mistakes that we should avoid.
Mistake # 1. Not Replenishing Key Nutrients After Vigorous Activity
First, let’s define Vigorous Activity:
Vigorous-intensity exercise is a physical activity done with a large amount of effort. It is the intensity at which you have a substantially higher heart rate and rapid breathing. You are only able to speak in short phrases due to the rapid breathing and effort. Activities that are usually classified as being of vigorous intensity include running, cycling, and singles tennis.
During vigorous activity, there are a number of key nutrients that we need to replenish.
- Carbohydrates, which are needed to replenish glycogen stores, a.k.a. stored energy.
- Minerals, such as potassium and sodium, that are lost in sweat; and
- Fluids, which are also lost in sweat
- After vigorous activity, my go-to beverage is @floridaorangejuice, as it covers all of these three categories! I often use Florida OJ as a base to my smoothies. The carbohydrates in 100% orange juice come only from the naturally occurring sugars in the oranges – with no added sugars. In addition to potassium, Florida OJ also provides vitamin A, folate, magnesium and 100% of our vitamin C needs in half a glass. Also, did you know that only 1/10 Canadians reach their daily servings of fruit and vegetables? A smoothie like this with Florida OJ is a great way to help us get closer to our intake of fruit and vegetables.
Mistake # 2: Consuming Too Much After Lighter Exercising
Next, let’s define Light & Moderate Intensity Activity
Light exercise includes activities that do not cause you to break a sweat or produce shortness of breath. An example would be a leisurely walk, light yoga or casual bike ride.
Moderate exercise is exercise which causes you to break out in a light to moderate sweat or makes it difficult to carry on a long conversation. Examples would be a brisk walk, power yoga, hiking on a nature trail, performing chores around the house.
If we are exercising at a light intensity or at a moderate intensity for under 20 minutes, we don’t have to do anything special to refuel. We are simply not needing to replenish glycogen stores, as we would during vigorous activity. We would need to rehydrate and replace some small electrolyte losses, however. So turning to water and a piece of fruit or coconut water is sufficient after this type of exercise. I too often see those around me over-replenishing after light exercise, or a short moderate intensity exercise period. Consuming too much after these types of activities is a sure way to lead to unintentional weight gain.
Mistake # 3: Not Eating Soon Enough After Exercising
Back when I used to be a competitive rep soccer player, I would have games in places in that were about an hour away. This means that by the time I got home after the game and sat down to eat, about two hours would have passed between the end of the game and my dinner. This wasn’t ideal.
To help your muscles recover, it is important to refuel within one hour of exercise. For your post-workout meal, you should consume:
- a good dose of complex carbohydrates for replenishing glycogen stores
- adequate protein to decrease muscle protein breakdown and increase muscle protein synthesis
- anti-oxidant rich foods to help reduce inflammation from exercise and provide extra micro nutrients
- Some examples of ideal post-workout meals include a quinoa stir-fry with tofu or chicken with veg, or a hearty bean and sweet potato chili