I don’t really get the whole concept of treating oneself to junk food as a reward after a workout. I personally believe that rewards for accomplishments in exercise should not be linked to food. Trust me I can find something more rewarding than a piece of cake. I don’t think I have to earn it and I don’t punish myself by it. I eat a piece of cake because I want a piece of cake. It has nothing to do with anything else. That’s life. I eat cake.
When we exercise we burn more calories, burning calories results in a caloric deficit, caloric deficit makes us feel hungry and when were hungry we want to eat. And sometimes we’re so hungry after a workout that we want to eat everything. This is where it becomes tricky. More exercise, more hunger, more food so are we really making any "gains". Your post exercise meal is not about a reward or simply your hunger. It’s about recovery, building, repairing and nourishing your body. Actually isn’t all that rewarding in it’s self? We consume carbohydrates to restock on depleted glycogen stores and protein to support muscle repair. We also have lots of fluids to replace water lost through sweat. (So if you’re not sweating then you’re not working hard enough). The sooner you eat after training the better. Besides the “technical” reasons stated by experts which suggest you eat within the first 15 - 30 minutes post workout, I’ve found that the longer you wait to eat the hungrier you become which results in poor food choices. Like an entire cake.
So what do you eat, or if you insist – what do you reward yourself with, post workout? Experts suggest that recovery meals contain “… about one gram of carbs per kilogram of body weight, in a ratio of three or four parts carb to one part protein”. This requires some brain work so to keep it simple “here are ten great recovery meals you can rely on, no matter what.”
1. Peanut-butter-and-honey sandwich on whole-grain bread with Gatorade or lots of water.
2. Low-fat chocolate soy milk. The perfect mix of carbs, protein, and fat.
3. Quaker Oatmeal Squares cereal with nonfat milk and blueberries or a banana.
4. Smoothie with low-fat yogurt, whey-protein powder, and fruit.
5. Whole-wheat bagel with low-fat cream cheese.
6. Grilled-chicken sandwich on whole-grain bread.
7. Apple smothered with peanut butter (the more the better).
8. Egg whites scrambled with fresh vegetables.
9. Grilled fish with brown rice and vegetables.
10. If you just can't stomach solid food after a workout, a recovery drink is better than nothing at all. Hammer Nutrition's Recoverite has a 3:1 ratio of complex carbs to protein and is full of electrolytes (try the Subtle Citrus flavor).
Keep in mind though that if your workout was a brisk 30 minute walk you should skip the Gatorade. If you ran 24k then the Gatorade makes sense. Be rati0nal. So getting back to the cake, I recently came across an interview with chef Bethenny Frankel where she says “if you eat a bowl of pasta, don’t order the tiramisu as well. You can’t spend more money that you have, and you can’t spend more calories than your body needs...those so-called naturally thin people you envy don’t have a secret, they just have a very rational relationship with food. They realize that a small scoop of ice cream is not going to make them fat”. So yes - we need to form a rational relationship with food. Of course we all want to eat cake. I think that if you want a piece of cake on a Tuesday afternoon then eat cake. But not the entire cake and not if nachos are for dinner. Then shut it and get on with your life. And I mean that in the nicest way.
Enjoy yourself if good health and fitness/gena.
Outside Magazine, February 2009, The Rest is Easy Come Back Stronger
By Geoff Van Dyke