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Want to Keep Your Muscle? …What you Should Never Eat After a Workout

By Alan Tyson PT, ATC
Did you know that what you eat directly after exercising – typically within two hours can have a significant impact on the health benefits you reap from exercise?  Consuming sugar, fruit juices or refined carbohydrates within this post-exercise window will negatively affect both your insulin sensitivity and your human growth hormone (HGH).  A recent study in the Journal of Applied Physiology found that eating a low-carbohydrate meal after aerobic exercise enhances your insulin sensitivity.  This is highly beneficial since impaired insulin sensitivity or insulin resistance, is the underlying cause of type 2 diabetes and a significant risk factor for other chronic diseases, such as heart disease.

A high sugar meal after working out or even a recovery drink (containing high sugar) after working out, will stop the benefits of exercise induced HGH.  You can work out for hours, then eat a high sugar candy bar or have high sugar energy drink (i.e. smoothie), and this will shut down the synergistic benefits of HGH. This is an extremely important fact to remember if you want to cut body fat and shed a
few pounds.

How Does This Work?
First we know that refined sugar in the diet makes the body produce extra insulin to combat the additional sugar in the bloodstream.  This increase in insulin causes an increase of another hormone called somatostatin.  Somatostatin shuts down exercise induced growth hormone released by high intensity exercise.

What does High Sugar Food Mean?
High sugar food is defined by being 37.5 grams of sugar or greater per 100 grams of food.  This basically means that the sugar content should be less than a 1/3 of the serving weight.  The best bet is to have a low carb food such as low fat dairy or a lean meat source combined with an electrolyte replacement drink that is low in sugar after a workout.

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