Friday, July 2, 2010

Skipping meal post-exercise: harmful impact

Dinner for Nate G. is a rare event. Post-exercise (his dinner-time), Nate prefers not to fuel his body for whatever reason despite knowing the consequences.

At two-three times per week performing one-hour sessions of intensive weight training and boxing, Nate needs... a turkey sandwich. A cup of chocolate milk. Something... anything!

He is in good shape so his decision to skip is not for weight loss purposes. He understands (or now he will if he reads this post) that omitting a meal within the "post-exercise window of opportunity" negatively affects proper muscle recovery. This is because waiting longer than two hours to eat has been shown to result in 50 percent less glycogen stored in the muscle. Glycogen storage is most active within the first 15-30 minutes post exercise.1 Therefore, he might eventually put himself at risk for serious injury if he doesn't replenish glycogen losses after exercising. And that wouldn't be good at all since he enjoys working out.

Enter: local NYC CafĂ© and Nate inside. Eating. Post-workout. It was a break-through in our sports nutrition eating-recovery ☺ His choice of roasted chicken without skin was better than nothing but not exactly an optimal macronutrient ratio. Ideally, he would have included CHO with this meal in order to stimulate his insulin response, which helps build up glycogen storage faster.

Most experts believe the optimal ratio of CHO-Pro supplementation post-exercise to replenish muscle glycogen is at least three grams of carbohydrate for every one gram of protein.2 If Nate needs at least 20-30g of protein for the stimulation of muscle protein synthesis, then his 3.5oz chicken (30 grams protein) with two cups brown rice (90g CHO) would do the trick. At first this seemed to be a lot of CHO to me. Yet, a hero or sub sandwich is easily 80g carbohydrates. For Nate, a 6" male at 185lbs, four servings of grains to one serving meat or fish is the ideal meal.

-Marissa Beck, MS, RD is the Director of Wellness and in-house dietitian at NextJump. Visit her website at:

1 Betts JA, et al. Effects of recovery beverages on glycogen restoration and endurance exercise performance. Williams MB, et al. Effects of recovery beverages on glycogen restoration and endurance exercise performance. J Strength Cond Res. 2003 Feb;17(1):12-9.

2 Ivy JL, Goforth HW Jr, Damon BM, McCauley TR, Parsons EC, Price TB. Early postexercise muscle glycogen recovery is enhanced with a carbohydrate-protein supplement. J Appl Physiol. 2002 Oct;93(4):1337-44.