Low-Carb Meals After Exercise Store Energy, Maintain Health

Low-Carb Meals After Exercise Store Energy, Maintain Health

You don’t need overpriced “recovery” products after exercise, but eating a low-carb meal can have real benefits for your next workout, and for your general health and metabolism. It all has to do with tissue storage and insulin reception.

Photo by SuziJane.

After a round of aerobic (active movement) exercise, eating a lower-carb meal helps the body store sugar from your bloodstream in muscles and other tissues, making more energy available for your life, and your next exercise, if you’re fairly regular about it. The side benefit is a generally improved metabolism, and a means of helping avoid insulin insensitivity, a pre-condition that often lead to diabetes.

As part of a study published in the Journal of Applied Physiology, researchers fed one of three meals to test subjects after 90 minutes of exercise on a treadmill or stationary bike. One was relatively balanced between carbohydrates, protein and fat, and had a moderate amount of calories. One was otherwise balanced, but scaled back on the carbs. A final meal was lower-calorie, but had a higher amount of carbs. The results:

In all three exercise sessions, researchers say there was a trend for an increase in insulin sensitivity. But when the participants ate the low-carbohydrate meal following exercise, it increased their insulin sensitivity even more.

Researchers say the results show that people can reap important health benefits from exercise without starving themselves after exercise or losing weight.

Tell us what makes for a great meal after a hard workout in the comments.

What You Eat After Working Out Matters [WebMD via The Food Times]


  • I add a few carbs to my after workout protein shake by adding half a glass of light milk and a couple of scoops of ice cream. Makes the thickness of the protein shake much nicer to drink and sweeter because of the ice cream, and fills me up for quite some time too.

Log in to comment on this story!