Source: Coach Calorie
What You Eat After Cardio Depends on Your Goals
When we weight train, we start depleting our muscles of glycogen, and we break down muscle tissue. Our goal is to make it grow back bigger and stronger. We eat carbohydrates and protein post workout so that we can replenish muscle glycogen stores (energy) and start rebuilding muscle.
On the other hand, when we do cardio, our goal is usually to lose fat. This means what we eat after cardio will be different than after a typical weight lifting session. You could certainly eat the same thing either way. However, if you’re looking for maximum fat loss, you’ll want different nutrition after a cardio session.
What Should You Eat After Cardio?
During a typical cardio session, your body’s biochemistry undergoes some changes. Your body suppresses insulin production and starts releasing other hormones like growth hormone (GH) and testosterone. Not only that, but your body releases several neurotransmitters like adrenaline, epinephrine, serotonin, and dopamine. The first two assist with fat mobilization, while the second two are feel good chemicals (think runner’s high).
What we want to do after cardio is:
- Keep insulin production suppressed. Insulin is a fat storage hormone which is not conducive to fat loss.
- Keep growth hormone (GH) levels elevated. GH is catabolic to fat cells. It is one of, if not the most powerful hormone for losing fat.
- Keep those fat loss neurotransmitters flowing so that fat loss continues.
How do we accomplish these goals? It’s quite simple actually. You control your carbohydrate intake. Eating too many of or the wrong type of carbohydrates will immediately throw you out of fat burning mode. After your workout, your insulin sensitivity is at its highest. This is great. It means you’ll be able to be a bit more loose with your carbohydrate intake. What you don’t want to do however, is spike your insulin levels. Doing so will halt all fat burning, and will drop your growth hormone levels, along with any other fat loss benefit you just created from your cardio.
If you are in pure fat loss mode, it would be beneficial to have a carb-less meal after cardio. Something along the lines of a protein shake with some essential fatty acids (EFAs), such as whey protein isolate mixed withCarlson’s omega-3 oil, will keep the fat burning machine churning, while at the same time provide protein and essential fats to start rebuilding muscle. Will you be replenishing muscle glycogen with this meal? No, not really. Some of the protein may be converted into glucose through a process called gluconeogenesis, but even if this did happen, it would have a minimal effect on insulin levels – meaning you will continue to burn fat. You can also have any number of protein/fat/veggie meals after cardio. Here are over 300 healthy recipes I’ve collected from around the web for you to try.
To sum up, if you want to keep fat burning going for as long as possible, you’ll want to manage your carbohydrate intake after cardio. While you don’t have to go no-carb (although this will be the best), you can get by having a small serving of low glycemic carbohydrates. The important thing, as always, is to make sure you’re actually doing your cardio. Once you’re consistent with your workouts, then you can start focusing on the finer details.