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Force Feeding: The Secret to Post-Workout Nutrition the Right Way

July 01, 2013 2 min read

I'm rarely hungry after doing a good workout, and I have a hard time eating if I've really pushed myself. However, turns out I should be eating a little something, especially if I'm doing a workout longer than 60 minutes. Why is this? It's really quite simple: When you eat, your body turns the food into glucose - and ultimately glycogen to use as muscle fuel. As you work out, you force your body to burn the glycogen in your muscles, after which it taps into the glucose stored in your liver. Once that glucose is burned up, it's time for those fat cells to be mobilized and burned as fuel. Take a bite of something right after your workout, and your body can't turn that food into fat.  Exercise stops insulin from storing the glucose in your body's fat cells, so it has no choice but to take the glucose to your energy-depleted muscles. In a nutshell, forcing yourself to eat right after working out will help to restock the energy your muscles have just burned away, stopping muscle fatigue and speeding up muscle repair.

Force-Feeding Done Right

There are two conditions to post-workout force-feeding:
  1. Eat between 100 and 500 calories, and make sure that it's simple sugars. These sugars will trigger the production of insulin, which makes your body use the glucose more quickly.
  2. Do some low intensity aerobic activity while eating. The activity will speed up the fueling process, helping your muscles absorb as much glucose as possible without allowing any to be stored in fat cells.
  It is effective because your body is already burning fat, so it can't store fat at the same time. Your body has no choice but to send the energy to your tired muscles, giving them a nice boost of energy after an intense workout. I use this trick to keep me from gassing out between workouts. I lift weights for endurance training twice a week, and I run twice a week as well. After lifting or running, I head off to my daily martial arts lesson - a very tired man! Thanks to this force-feeding habit, the 200 or 300 calories that I eat go straight to my muscles - and I'm able to make it through the hour-long martial arts class even after an intense 30-minute training session.

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