Do You Really Need a "Recovery" Snack After a Workout?

Each week, writer Mike Dawson tackles the complex, confusing, and often dead-wrong health and fitness myths so you can live smarter.

1956: EXCLUSIVE Full-length image of men lifting weights in a special area walled off for weightlifting at Muscle Beach, Santa Monica, California. Several Mr. Americas were developed here; the equipment ranges from small dumbbells to the three and four hundred pounders. (Photo by Gene Lester/Getty Images)

Credit: Getty Images

Put down the sugar, sport.

If you're working out for less than an hour a few days a week, you don't need some Day-Glo-colored sports drink, recovery gel, or even a banana right after your sweat session.

In fact, if you eat or drink carbs (i.e., sugar) too soon after exercising, you may actually slow down your body's natural ability to burn fat.

Here's why. Sugar spikes your insulin level. While this ultimately sparks muscle repair, insulin may in fact inhibit the fat-torching effects of human growth hormone, which is released during and post workout (see this Journal of Applied Psychology article)

Now, if you're cycling all day or a basketball star who plays hard four nights in a row or a marathoner training intensely for more than an hour a day, six days a week, then recovering with carbs (both during and immediately after exercise) is key to your stamina and ability to bounce back.

But an hour of weights or a few miles on the shredmill doesn't warrant a 150-calorie Powerade, especially if you're trying to shed a few pounds. Instead, drink plenty of water, hit the shower, and head out to your next low-carb, high-lean-protein meal.

—Mike Dawson

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