Advertisements claim that sports drinks, sugary gels, and the growing market of energy bars and protein shakes can increase your athletic performance, help build muscle, etc. Because of this marketing, many people are mixing up or shaking up drinks, and consuming these glorified candy bars.
Really? If you are going to the gym to burn calories, why consume more than you are burning? Many of these sport foods and drinks are high in calories and just end up as extra “wiggle in the middle”. The same with the after exercise protein shakes. You are increasing your calories even more if you drink that shake and then go home to your regular meal.
What to do? Determine the length and intensity of your exercise. Be honest. Many people over estimate the amount of calories they burn during an exercise workout. There are lots of calorie burn calculators online. To be accurate, you will need to enter age, gender, weight, speed, length of workout time, etc. For typical exercise sessions that last an hour or less, water for hydration is the best choice, followed by a whole food snack or meal. Only when you are active for an hour or more at a HIGH intensity can an energy bar or energy drink be appropriate.
If you want something more palatable than water, add a sugar free flavoring to your water. Athletes that participate in daily, HIGH-intensity workouts can use those energy bars and protein drinks for extra calories and nutrients they need, but if you are the typical gym goer who works up a sweat a couple of times a week, you should stick with water and a regular healthy diet.
If you need more information about your diet and required nutrients, talk to a registered dietician.
Janet Hunt is a Certified Personal Trainer and can be reached at 256-614-3530 to schedule an appointment.
By: Janet Hunt