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Post-Workout Meal Impacts Exercise Results

Posted by bmagnus On January - 29 - 2010

The study in the Journal of Applied Physiology begins by telling us “The content of meals consumed after exercise can impact metabolic responses for hours and even days after the exercise session.” But then what should we eat after a good workout to get the best results? That’s what they wanted to find out.

The test subjects had 4 different experiences: no exercise and a balanced meal; exercise and a balanced meal equal to calories burned; exercise and a “low carb” meal equal to calories burned; and exercise with a reduced calorie, balanced meal. The results:

In the three exercise trials, there was a trend for an increase in insulin sensitivity. However, when participants ate less carbohydrate after exercise, this enhanced insulin sensitivity significantly more.

Insulin sensitivity is the ability of the body to mobilize insulin and use it to properly metabolize carbohydrates, particularly sugars. Insulin resistance — the opposite of enhanced insulin sensitivity — is a pre-diabetic condition where a normal level of insulin doesn’t do the job the body needs it to do; as a result, more and more insulin must be produced, eventually exhausting the body’s ability to keep up at all in type 2 diabetes.

So what they have discovered is that your body will do a better job of putting sugar to good use if your post-exercise meal is relatively low in carbohydrates. More, they did find that eating a meal that contained fewer calories than expended during exercise “augmented lipid mobilization,” which means fats were being moved out of “storage” for use as energy.

Her Take: There is one thing that bothers me about this study, and surely it is merely a typo. The study says the subjects’ workout amounted to roughly 800 calories — a reasonable expenditure for the 90 minutes they reportedly spent. The press release said that the “low carbohydrate” meal had roughly 200g of carbs. Since each gram of carbohydrate is 4 calories, this meal should have contained 800 calories of carbohydrate before even considering fats and protein. Yet this meal was supposed to be roughly the same number of calories as they burned, and half the carbs of the balanced meal. It makes much more sense for this meal to have contained 20g of carbohydrates — still high for a traditional low-carb diet, but a reasonable number.

One Response to “Post-Workout Meal Impacts Exercise Results”

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