By Dr. Matthew Simmons
Northside Hospital Cherokee Sports Medicine Program
After strenuous exercise, it’s perfectly normal for an athlete such as a runner to eat three-to-four servings in one sitting. Because each athlete is different and because their calorie needs change each day, depending on how intense, long or far they’ve worked out — it’s best to listen to your body’s hunger cues.
Higher-mileage days and hard efforts do require more calories for optimal recovery. It’s important to choose nutrient-rich foods high in protein, good fats and that provide lots of carbohydrates to repair muscles and replenish your glycogen stores. As always, don’t forget to eat your fruits and vegetables, which are high in fiber, digest slowly and keep you feeling full longer.
The worst thing you can do is deprive your body of calories or certain foods early in the day, because this can lead to binge eating later. If you’re usually hungry after an exercise, try to eat a snack such as a slice of whole wheat bread with peanut butter. Or keep healthy snacks like whole fruit and string cheese in your car or backpack, so you can reach for them when you are hungry.
It’s best to let your body be your calorie counter and to learn to determine the right portions to satisfy your body. Those who are more active, burn more calories.
Just remember that our bodies are unpredictable, unique and influenced by external factors like age, hormones, quality of sleep and how active we are.
But one thing’s for sure: Putting high-quality, well-balanced meals in your tank, will help keep your engine revitalized with energy.
Dr. Matthew Simmons is a board-certified physician in sports medicine and family medicine, and serves as the director of the Northside Hospital Cherokee Sports Medicine Program, providing care to high school athletes throughout Cherokee County. If you have experienced a sports injury, call 770-517-6636 to discuss how we can assist you with your specific condition and return you to peak performance.
Visit NorthsideCherokeeOrtho.com for more information