Monday, January 8, 2018

Why You Should Have a Small Snack After Every Workout

When you finish a workout, you fall into one of two camps: You're ravenous for food, or you shy away from it. But those in the latter group may need to rethink their fueling strategy, as it could be sabotaging your weight loss or fitness-related goals. (If you're in the former camp, though, here's how to handle post-workout cravings.)

There are various reasons for skipping food right after a workout. Some think doing so will ruin the work they just put in, while others simply don't think they have the appetite for it, says Heidi Skolnik, owner of Nutrition Conditioning. And that makes sense: Research shows that exercise—especially long or intense bouts of it—lowers the appetite-stimulating hormone ghrelin, and it can take up to three hours for your appetite to return to normal.

But if you don't eat ASAP, your appetite may knock you over the head as soon as it returns, says Skolnik. Plus, delaying when you eat slows down your recovery process, which could make it tough to give it your all the next time you hit the gym.

Thankfully, all you really need to do is down a small recovery snack, ideally within an hour of wrapping your workout. Skolnik says that's when your body is most receptive to muscle repair and glycogen replenishment (the carb stores your body pulls from for quick energy). It doesn't have to be a specially-formulated 600-calorie smoothie, either—something as simple as yogurt and a banana, an apple and a stick of cheese, or even eight ounces of chocolate milk can be enough to take the edge off, she adds. As long as it includes energy-restoring carbs and protein you need to kickstart the recovery process, you're good. (Here are 6 smart snacks to eat after a workout.)

So, next time you're hemming and hawing about post-recovery fuel, make the caloric investment, says Skolnik. It'll maximize your sweat time, netting a greater payoff in the long run.

Is There a Best Time of Day for Exercise??


Many studies have tried to pinpoint the best time of day to exercise for peak performance and best results. But most of these studies were designed for elite athletes.

For general fitness, exercise can be whenever it's most convenient for you. In fact, the best time of day for exercise is whatever time you can do it consistently. That's because fitness benefits come from working out on a regular basis.

Consider factors like work and home responsibilities, your energy level at various times during the day, and what type of exercise you like best when picking your "prime time" for fitness workouts.

If you're a morning person whose energy fizzles by 3 p.m., start your day with a workout, even if it means waking up a half-hour early. If you need a workout buddy to stay motivated, schedule exercise when it's easiest for both of you. If you like solitude, try off-peak hours at your gym or create your own at-home workout space.

Remember that you can break up daily activity into three 10-minute segments if that's what it takes to get it all in. Park 10 minutes away from work and walk briskly to the building. Do 10 minutes of desk exercises at lunch. Then walk back to your car to go home, and you're done for the day.

Or take a walk during your mid-morning break, your lunch hour and just before or after dinner.

The only caveat is to not exercise too close to bedtime, or you could become too revved up to fall asleep. Allow at least two hours before you go to bed -- more if you need longer to wind down.

The American Heart Association has more on when to work out to meet your goals.

Quick Health Tip: Preparing For Endurance Exercises


The U.S. National Institute on Aging suggests performing endurance exercises as you age.

This type of exercise benefits your cardiovascular system, lungs and circulatory system. Examples include walking, jogging, swimming and biking.

The agency offers these suggestions before starting an endurance exercise regimen:

-  Warm up and cool down before and after exercise.
-  Drink plenty of fluids when doing any activity that makes you sweat.
-  Dress in layers when exercising outdoors, so you can remove a layer if you get too hot.
-  If exercise equipment is involved, make sure it's safe and well maintained.
-  Walk during the day or in well-lit areas at night, and be aware of your surroundings.