City Pulse

By Brianne Carlon

City women are busy, so getting the most out of a workout is imperative. In order to do that, before and after you workout, you need to replenish your body with carbohydrates and proteins that play an important role in rebuilding your muscles.



In a way, exercising is like remodeling a house. You need to tear down the old “stuff,” as in weak muscle fibers, to make room for the newer, stronger and prettier ones. But this can only occur if the muscles are fed with the right supplies: carbohydrates and proteins. Energy burns carbs and protein is broken down during a workout. Both need to be replaced to help rebuild the structural part of the muscle.

John Henry Creel, one of Men’s Journal’s top 100 trainers, says taking in meals before and after exercising is important. “If your goal is to lose weight, eat a protein-based meal about an hour before a workout,” he says. This could be something as simple as a chicken breast and cooked broccoli. Eating protein prior to working out will help deliver amino acids to the muscles that aid in rebuilding.



“Immediately following the workout, have a small meal high in protein, such as a protein drink, cottage cheese or plain yogurt,” Creel says. An hour later, have a balanced meal. “A chicken breast, a sweet potato and spinach is a good example.”

“If you are just exercising to maintain health and energy, try eating some fruit and cottage cheese an hour before and immediately after working out,” he says. A protein shake or eight ounces of skim milk could also do the trick.

We know some protein drinks are dis-gust-ing, so try a glass of good, old-fashioned chocolate milk instead. “Chocolate milk has an optimal ratio of carbohydrates to protein to help refuel tired muscles,” says Joel M. Stager, Indiana University kinesiology professor, in a study published in International Journal of Sports Nutrition and Exercise Metabolism. The study also says that chocolate milk contains other key nutrients, like calcium and vitamin D, in quantities higher than those found in sports drinks.



Most foods that include whey or soy protein, quality casein, eggs or meat are a great option for nutrient replacement after working out. Try an egg-white omelet, a tuna fillet or whey supplement found at health-food stores.

Remember, you’ve only got a small “window of opportunity” to chow down after your workout. It gradually closes, and if food rich in carbohydrates and protein is not consumed in this time, much of the benefit of exercising could be lost.

What then would be the point of all that sweating? Busy city gals don’t have time to waste.

Originally published November 2007
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