After sweating it out in a cardio session, it would make sense that you need to refuel in order to see results, right? Not necessarily.
LA-based dietician Shira Lenchewski, R.D. says, "There's no hard-and-fast rule that says you need to refuel after a short cardio session with anything other than water." When strength training, your muscles are broken down and depleted of carbohydrate glycogen whereas cardio burns calories by raising our heart rate. This means that your 30-45 min spin class or treadmill run burned a relatively low amount of fuel.
It is important to note that the above statement doesn't apply to long, intense cardio sessions. The more intensely you move, the more fuel you will burn. If you are training for a race or clocking lots of miles, try to eat between 200 and 300 calories within 30 minutes of your workout. If you are into something intense like HIIT, or sprints or kickboxing, you definitely need to refuel with a combo of protein and carbs.
Of course, you need to listen to your body. If you are hungry after a workout, you can eat but be smart with your choices. Having a protein shake is much smarter than stuffing yourself with a burger and fries. To help with post workout hunger, Holly Perkins, women's strength-training expert and author of Lift to Get Lean, suggests eating a nutritious meal 2 to 3 hours before your workout or have a light snack 30-60 minutes before. Fueling your body properly means you are less likely to eat the first thing you see when you step out of the gym.
How do you keep your body fueled? What is your pre or post workout go to?