Can snacking after a workout hamper a client's weight loss?

Food for Thought:

Answer: Experienced athletes know how important it is to refuel and rehydrate after a training session. Following strenuous activity, food and fluids can replenish lost glycogen stores and help repair muscle tissue. After an intense workout, the best way to refuel would be to eat a mix of complex carbohydrates and lean protein, such as a whole-grain cereal topped with skim milk.

On the other hand, clients who train at moderate intensity with a goal of losing weight should be encouraged to maintain a calorie deficit after a workout by keeping any snacks to a minimum. A general rule of thumb for such clients is to indulge only in snacks that contain no more than 200 calories. For example, a good choice after a moderate workout would be a cup of light yogurt topped with berries or a cup of raw veggies served with 2 tablespoons of bean dip.

When it comes to weight loss, it’s not so much a question of whether to snack after a workout. What’s most important is the number of calories consumed over the course of a day and the type of snack chosen. Remind clients to focus on energy balance after a workout: 1 hour of low-impact aerobic exercise burns around 350 calories, and it’s easy to succumb to the lure of high-calorie foods after an appetite-revving workout.

You can pose your own question to our contributing editor Jennie McCary, MS, RD, LD, a registered dietitian and wellness manager for Albuquerque Public School District. She is president of New Mexico's Dietetic Association and is New Mexico's 2009 Outstanding Dietitian of the Year. Please send your questions, along with your name and city/state/country, to editor Sandy Webster at

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Jennie McCary, MS, RD, LD

IDEA Author/Presenter
You can pose your own question to our contributing editor Jennie McCary, MS, RD, LD, a registered di... more less
January 2010

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