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Real Food vs. Energy Bars and Sports Drinks

Here's a little food for thought: the biggest difference between eating engineered energy sports foods and real foods after your workout is convenience.

There are many "recovery products" on the market right now; scientifically researched products designed to deliver carbs and protein to muscles depleted after long training sessions. While it is true that muscles do need carbs and protein after exercise to repair themselves, many researchers believe the window of time to feed the muscles these macro nutrients is any where from two to four hours. This is ample time to find yourself a kitchen and make yourself some good old fashioned food.

To see how much protein and carbs you should eat during your recovery time,


The amounts of both nutrients are rather small. Muscle repair only requires about 10 to 15 grams of protein, the equivalent of two eggs. In terms of carbs, the body needs about one gram of carbs per kilogram of body weight (for us metrically challenged Americans 2.2 pounds roughly equals 1 kilogram) – I need about 60 grams of carbs. I can easily find that amount of carbs in an apple (31 grams of carbs), two slices of whole wheat toast (24 grams of carbs), and 6 ounces of vanilla flavored Greek yogurt (14 grams). Scramble up two eggs to go with my carbs and basically, I have a healthy breakfast, which is perfect after a long run.

Sometimes after a workout though, you just don't have the time or resources to make real food. In those cases, a Power Bar can come in handy. My point being, don't fall for the gimmicks and think you have to drink an Accelerade. Choose real food when you can. It is cheaper and less processed and tastes way better.


Join The Conversation
NatureMadeLisa NatureMadeLisa 9 years
I think the energy bars are too sweet for me after I work out. I'd much rather go the natural way.
sparklestar sparklestar 9 years
I refuse to have any of the "energy" bars... nonsenseeeeee.
Fitness Fitness 9 years
runningesq - I am with you on the GU thing when working out for over an hour (training for or doing sprint distance tri) or doing strenuous long bikes. But other than that I much prefer real food or a handful of nuts on a ride.
Spectra Spectra 9 years
One of my big pet peeves is the whole "energy bar/energy gel" trend. I would much rather eat an egg or a banana for energy instead of some fake tasting energy bar. I'm trying to gain a little weight and my doctor told me to try a whey protein powder dietary supplement but IMHO, they taste like barf. I'd much rather eat some meat or eggs or nuts to get the protein in!
Wild-Magelet Wild-Magelet 9 years
Hi Fit. When you say that the body needs so-many grams of carbs, do you mean post-workout for recovery or is that the recommended daily allowance? Because if there's 30+ grams in one apple and I practically live on fruits and veg, I'm way over, but I don't see how you would get in your 5+ a day otherwise.
runningesq runningesq 9 years
IMO, it depends on what you are doing. If I'm going on a three hour run, I take GU and gatorade with me -- my body cannot handle an apple or a sandwhich when I'm running.
ella1978 ella1978 9 years
I'm never sure if I eat the right things after a workout. Today I did weights on arms & biked for 8 miles. My breakfast after was a cup of yougurt & a nectarine. About 2 hours later I had 2 cups of cherrios as a snack. My yougurt cup says it has 6 grams of protein, so I guess I'm not getting enough protein... but sometimes I work out at night, and I have dinner afterwards... who knows then.. so confusing.
Dublin62505 Dublin62505 9 years
I am so glad you clarified the amount of protein needed to repair muscles. I am always fearful I am not eating enough protein after a weight training session.
NYKnowItAll NYKnowItAll 9 years
Absolutely! Fresh, real food is ALWAYS better than processed stuff.
chhavi chhavi 9 years
sooo true!
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