You rocked your ride. Got your sweat on. Energy points were at an all-time high and calories burned were off the chart 📈. Now the question is…how do you refuel so you can do it again? What (and when) should you eat in order to recover? What is going to allow you to increase your energy and burn more calories on the next ride?
First, let’s talk about the when.
Aim to eat something 30-60 minutes after you finish exercising. This time frame is the ideal window for nutrient absorption. The body is more efficient at using the food you eat during this window for fuel, instead of fat storage.
Now for the what.
Prioritize protein, carbohydrates and fluid. This is somewhat similar to the way you should fuel prior to class. Check out more on that topic here in my blog post about what to eat before spin class.
Protein: The body needs protein for muscle recovery and repair. This recovery and repair will help decrease muscle soreness (yes👌🏻!). Choose complete protein sources, which are sources that contain all the essential amino acids (which are amino acids that you must get through food, the body cannot produce them on its own). The branch chain amino acids (or BCAA’s)- leucine, isoleucine and valine are especially important in promoting a speedy recovery. Whey protein, chicken, eggs, fish and beef are all good sources of BCAAs. Other protein powders may contain these BCCAs as well. For example, I use a plant-based protein powder and BCAAs are specifically added to it. You can also find BCAAs in supplement form, typically sold in a powder, which is meant to be mixed with water. I do caution you to be careful with supplements. The regulation standards for supplements are set fairly low and they may contain things that are not advertised.
Carbohydrates: Your body’s main source of energy is glycogen. During a spin class your glycogen stores fuel your ride, but by the end of class, those stores are depleted. Eating carbohydrates repair glycogen synthesis and replenish those glycogen stores.
Fluids: Do not forget to refuel with water! It’s important to replenish the sweat you lost during class. Fill your water bottle after class and try to finish it within 30 minutes. Some may benefit from adding in extra electrolytes post sweat session. A natural way to do this is with coconut water, it’s loaded with good electrolytes. Another tip is to listen to your body. I have learned that I feel better if I add in some salt to my post workout meal to replenish the salt that I lost through sweat.
Trying to lose weight?
It might seem counterintuitive to replace the fuel burned during a workout if your goal is weight loss, but refueling correctly will actually support your weight loss goal. If you plan to work out the next day, you need to refill your stores so you’ll have the strength and energy for another great workout, which will allow you to burn more calories and fat. By consuming the right foods (protein and carbohydrates) after a workout, your body will be more efficient at holding on to lean mass, which will promote muscle toning, fat burn and overall good health.
The body is able to metabolize carbohydrates best after working out. If you are tracking your macronutrient intake (with a goal of weight loss) post exercise is a good time to allot more of your carbohydrates, as opposed to other times of the day.
Examples of Post-Workout Fuel
Protein smoothie. Protein: protein powder. Carbohydrate options: fruit, greens, milk or yogurt (which contain both carbs and protein). Check out one of my favorite post-spin smoothie here.
Eggs + carbohydrate source. This option is good for breakfast. Carbohydrate of your choice: vegetables (for an omelet), fruit, oatmeal or toast. (If you like to eat bread/toast, eating it post-workout would be the best time of day).
Protein pancakes. There a lot of recipes out there! Google is great 🙂. Most contain protein powder, eggs and some form of carbohydrate- oats or fruit are common.
Protein source + carbohydrate source. Example: chicken with rice and vegetables.
Salad with protein. Veggies with protein of choice (steak, fish, chicken or hard boiled eggs).
Short on time, check out these post spin snack ideas…
Protein bar + apple
Hard-boiled egg(s) + banana
Protein powder + milk + piece of fruit if the protein powder does not contain many carbohydrates
Tuna + whole wheat or seeded crackers
Time to make the most out of your ride. Book your bike now and test it out! Find out what works best for you in order to crush your ride again and again💪🏻. Questions or comments? Send me an email me at firstname.lastname@example.org!