The Black & White

Protein bars, not candy bars

By Shayna Barbash

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Many students wonder on a daily basis:  what exactly is the best recovery meal after a hard workout or taxing physical event?  While there’s no magic trick to building muscle food intake, certain combinations of exercise and energy allow for the maximal benefit from a workout. After predominantly lifting or using heavy weights, it’s important to eat a meal high in protein.  Food like chicken, milk and protein bars eaten approximately 30 minutes after a workout refuel muscles and provide energy.  While carbohydrates are also important for fueling the body, protein helps to rebuild torn muscle tissue and allow for optimal muscle growth. 

For runners and athletes training at a high aerobic intensity, a combination of both sugar and protein shortly after a workout while your body’s in its most deprived state is the best answer.  Many fitness trainers recommend a ratio of 3:1 carbohydrates to proteins to have a good balance of different sources of energy.  Muscle tissue metabolizes sugar the best after a hard workout, so the carb to protein combination provides the simple sugars essential for fast energy and the protein for long-term muscle growth.  Chocolate milk is known to many runners as the optimal post-workout recovery meal due to its 3:1 carb to protein ration.  Protein bars such as Cliff Bars and Luna Bars are some of the more appetizing protein bars and are a convenient quick recovery snack. 

While a junky treat after a hard work-out is tempting, keep in mind that the food you consume contributes to not only your current state of mind, but also your long-term health and physical condition.  Reach for the protein bar, not the candy bar.

1 Comment

One Response to “Protein bars, not candy bars”

  1. Molly on September 29th, 2009 10:39 am

    This was a very well written column.
    By the way, another great protein bar after a long workout is balance gold bars – they’ve got about 20 grams of protein and taste awesome. I always have one after a particularly grueling workout.