When we exercise, we deplete our glycogen stores (the stored form of glucose mentioned in the previous article). Therefore, we must replenish these stores by consuming foods rich in carbohydrates. Remember, when I talk about carbs, this doesn’t just mean bread and chips! There are numerous great sources of carbohydrates, including potatoes, beans, vegetables, rice, grains and pasta. The longer and harder you have trained, the more carbs you will need. For instance, more endurance-based exercise such as long runs and swims will require more carb replenishing than yoga or a short walk.
What is also important here is that the longer the fasting window before exercise, the more important this post-workout window will be. For instance, if you are working out early in the morning and choose to do this fasted, you won’t have topped up your instant energy supply. You will be relying on stored glucose and fat for fuel. Therefore, you will use up more stored glucose. In this case, ensure you have eaten well the night before and have a well-balanced meal post-workout made up of adequate protein, carbohydrates and a little bit of fat.
To ensure you meet this requirement, aim to include a source of carbohydrates in your post-workout meal or snack.
Breakfast – this may be a bowl of porridge or muesli with no added sugar, a slice of toast with eggs, or perhaps adding oats or banana to a breakfast smoothie.
Lunch – this could be a wrap, adding grains or potato to a salad or adding a slice of toast to an omelette.
Dinner could be adding potatoes to fish and vegetables, adding lentils and beans to a stew or noodles to a stir fry.
The big take-home here is not to fear carbohydrates! They are our primary source of energy and play a huge role in maximising performance.