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How Long After I Work Out Should I Eat?

author image Megan Smith
Megan Smith has been a freelance writer and editor since 2006. She writes about health, fitness, travel, beauty and grooming topics for various print and Internet publications. Smith earned a Bachelor of Fine Arts in writing from New York University.
How Long After I Work Out Should I Eat?
Eat a peanut butter sandwich on whole-grain bread to refuel your body. Photo Credit PhotoObjects.net/PhotoObjects.net/Getty Images

After your workout, you may feel hungry and lethargic. When you exercise, your body uses energy to burn calories, which may leave you feeling tired. In order to make up for the calories it lost, your body may trigger the sensation of hunger. When you eat, your body refuels its glycogen stores, stabilizing your blood sugar and providing you with a boost of energy.

When to Eat

To replace the glycogen stores in your body quickly and effectively, eat a snack that contains both protein and carbohydrates. This will provide both fast-acting and sustainable energy to your body. Try to eat a snack within two hours of exercising, but wait a minimum of 15 minutes after exercising before you eat. Bring a snack along to the gym with you, so you can eat as soon as your workout is over. Along with your snack, drink 3 cups of water for every pound of weight that you lost during the workout, notes MayoClinic.com, adding that these pounds are water weight and must be replenished to prevent dehydration.

What to Eat

Don't sit down to a three-course meal immediately after working out. Instead, choose a light snack that will keep you energized without weighing you down, like a slice of whole-grain bread with peanut butter on top or a whole-grain pita pocket with two slices of turkey inside. Stay away from foods that are high in saturated fat and oil, like fried foods and chips. Not only will you feel even more lethargic after eating these foods, but you may also consume even more calories than you burned during your workout.

If You're Not Hungry

Even if you feel nauseous or full after finishing your workout, it's important to consume carbohydrates and water to rehydrate your body and raise your blood sugar. Drink a glass of 100-percent juice or a sports drink that contains electrolytes approximately 15 minutes after your workout to refuel your body.

How to Keep the Weight Off

Eating immediately after you exercise will help keep your energy high for the rest of the day, but if you're trying to lose weight, it may also limit the effectiveness of your workout. After you burn calories, your body will try to store any new calories you consume to prevent you from starving yourself, according to "Time" magazine. Snack wisely after working out, consuming only the calories you need to feel energized, for the best weight-loss results.

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