Loral's Personal Training and Fitness

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Post-Exercise and Nutrition Suggestions

Post-exercise nutrition and daily nutrition suggestions:

See www.choosemyplate.gov - this new USDA pyramid symbolizes a personalized approach to healthy eating and physical activity. It is a wonderful tool designed to assist you with healthy food choices and to be active every day.


Carbohydrates are the most important nutrient for exercising muscles. Adequate amounts of carbohydrates are essential not only for muscular performance but for the brain and central nervous system.

The principal functions are to 1) serve as the primary energy source for working muscles 2) ensure that the brain and nervous system function properly 3) help the body use fat more efficiently.

Stored carbohydrates, in the form of glycogen, are the primary fuel for exercise. You should consume at least 55% to 65% of your total calories from carbohydrates. Stay away from simple carbohydrates or sugars and eat complex carbohydrates such as whole grain breads, cereal, brown rice, and pasta (I love the whole wheat pastas available now).

Glycogen Resynthesis - Consuming adequate amounts of carbohydrates every day.

It takes about 24 hours before muscle glycogen is fully restored. When carbohydrate is consumed, relative to exercise, it’s important for refilling muscle glycogen. Studies have shown that when carbohydrate consumption is delayed after exercise, muscle glycogen storage is reduced and recovery is impaired. It is recommended to consume carbs within 30 minutes after a moderate to high-intensity exercise session, and in addition, every two hours to maximize muscle glycogen levels. Carbohydrates that quickly empty into the blood stream (high glycemic) are recommended immediately after exercise (within 30 minutes). See suggestions below.

Suggestions for Carbohydrates for Post-exercise Meals/Snacks for Glycogen Resynthesis:

½ bagel (whole wheat - yes, yes!!) w/peanut butter and 2/3 cup of raisins or honey

One cup lowfat yogurt, one banana, and a cup of orange juice

One turkey sandwich on whole wheat bread (I love mine w/spicy mustard, dark green lettuce, tomato, bread and butter pickles, on toast), with one cup of applesauce

Spaghetti w/meat sauce and garlic bread

8 oz’s skim milk, one apple, one orange, two slices of whole wheat toast w/sugar free jam

12 oz’s of a carbohydrate-loading drink (such as low-fat chocolate milk, Gatorade, AllSport, Powerade, Orange Juice) and two slices of whole wheat toast w/sugar free jam (add fat free cream cheese on toast if you like)

Other high glycemic foods: honey, Cornflakes, raisins, potato - baked, boiled or mashed), sweet corn.

Moderate gylcemic Foods: spaghetti, oatmeal, banana, grapes, oranges, brown rice, yams, baked beans.

Low glycemic foods: Apple, applesauce, cherries, dates, figs, peaches, pears, plums, kidney beans, chick peas, green peas, navy beans, red lentils, skim milk, plain lowfat yogurt

Protein Facts

Protein may not be necessary for glycogen recovery, however, it might assist with muscle synthesis. The principal role of protein is to build and repair body tissues, including muscles, ligaments, and tendons. Protein is also important for synthesis of hormones, enzymes, and antibodies, as well as for fluid transport and energy. Contrary to popular belief, protein is not a primary source of energy, except when you do not consume enough calories or carbs. If you fail to eat enough calories, or diet, the protein is stripped away from the muscle and used as an energy source, instead of being used for it’s intended job, building tissue, enzymes, hormones, etc. It is recommended women within our age group, who exercise frequently, consume approximately 2000-2200 calories daily.

Use the following equation to determine your protein requirements:

Your weight in lbs. __________ divided by 2.2 = weight in kilograms.

Your weight in kilograms ___________ x 0.8 = ____________ protein grams required per day.

To determine the amount of protein in foods, use the following as a guide:

8 grams of protein are found in 1 cup of skim milk or yogurt

8 grams of protein are found in 1 ounce of cheese

8 grams of protein are found in 3/4 cup of cottage cheese

7 grams of protein are found in 1 ounce of lean (chicken, fish, pork, beef) and in one egg

3 grams of protein are found in ½ cup of pasta, brown rice, corn, beans or one slice of whole wheat bread.

If you consume more protein than your body can use, you compromise your carb status, possibly affecting your ability to train and work at peak performance. Also, avoid protein-rich foods that are high in fat. Eating too much protein makes it difficult to maintain a low-fat diet.

Protein in Common Foods:

Milk (skim) 1 cup 8 grams

Yogurt (nonfat, lowfat) 1 cup 8 grams

Cheese (any variety) 1 oz 8 grams

Lean hamburger patty 3 oz’s 28 grams

Egg 1 7 grams

Lean steak 3 oz’s 21 grams

Chicken breast (skinless) 3.5 oz’s 30 grams

Taco 1 11 grams

Pizza 2 slices 32 grams

Tuna 3 oz’s 24 grams

Peanut butter 1 tbs 4 grams

Whole wheat bread 1 slice 2 grams

Pasta 1 cup 6 grams

Fluid and Hydration

Maintaining hydration is by far the greatest concern for regular exercisers. When you are dehydrated, you fatigue earlier and lose coordination skills. Your performance can suffer when you lose as little as 2% of body weight due to dehydration. To prevent this from happening, drink plenty of fluids before, during and after a workout session. Remember, if you are thirsty, you are already dehydrated. If you relied on thirst, you would only put back 50 to 75% of the fluid lost and would start your next workout already in a state of dehydration. Do not wait until you are thirsty to drink, and do not stop drinking once your thirst has been quenched. Check urine color. A dark gold color means you are dehydrated. A pail yellow color, or no color, means you are headed toward a state of hydration. If you consume a lot of caffeine, which is a diuretic, you could have pale or clear urine even though you are, in fact, dehydrated. Alcohol is also a very powerful diuretic. A guide for fluid intake is to consume ½ your body weight in oz’s. i.e., 140 lbs divided in ½ is 70 = 70 oz’s minimum daily.

Fluid-intake Recommendations during Exercise:

2 hours prior to exercise, drink 17-20 oz’s.

Every 10-20 minutes during exercise, drink 7-10 oz’s.


This article was derived from the Third Edition - American Council on Exercise Personal Trainer Manual