Photo by Caitlin Covington
You’ve put in your due diligence at the gym. You’re drenched in sweat, sore, and tired. You hit the showers, scoot to work, and let three hours pass before consuming anything but water. Maybe this isn’t an everyday occurrence, but a new survey suggests people don’t adequately replenish their bodies (or replenish at all) after a workout.
What's the deal? The Survey
The survey (released mid-February and conducted from August 20-24, 2012 by Market Probe International) polled a sample of 1,000 18-49-year-old men and women who exercise three or more times a week for 30 minutes of medium to high intensity activity (4+ on a 10-point scale).
The survey found the majority — 82 percent of participants — felt they weren’t doing enough to help their bodies recover after exercise. Perhaps one of the most surprising stats was that about one third of the participants (36 percent) said they don’t want to consume calories at all directly after a workout. Just over half the participants (53 percent) believe eating protein after a workout will build undesired muscle, and exactly half believe consuming carbohydrates post-workout could yield less optimal results. Another interesting finding was that nearly half of the participants indicated muscle fatigue and overall body soreness prevents them from exercising more frequently.
Before we christen the survey’s findings as the Holy Grail for post-workout nutrition habits, we’ve got to consider where it’s coming from. The survey was conducted by health care company Abbott in conjunction with its partner EAS Sports Nutrition — a large sports nutrition brand that sells post-workout supplements. So it’s important to note that the brand could benefit by implying fitness enthusiasts aren’t getting the right nutrition.
Is it Legit?
We’re not sold. The survey is based on a small sample, and it wasn’t super extensive. It would have been interesting to survey a much larger group, with a wider range of fitness levels and frequency of exercise. From the information Abbott released, it’s a little unclear as to who exactly was surveyed as well as how. Whether you trust their findings or not, workout nutrition is a hot topic that often goes overlooked by some exercisers.
We’ve dug into workout nutrition before, breaking down how to fuel pre and post with our Ultimate Guide to Workout Nutrition infographic, and sifting through studies to figure out which source of protein is best for post-workout recovery. Since then, new research has looked into the effects of performance supplements, protein, and even chocolate milk for post-workout recovery  . But a lot of conflicting info remains as far as when to eat, what to eat, and how much to eat around workout time. Post exercise nutrition gets even trickier when tailoring to a specific workout and for each individual’s needs.
The takeaway: Maximizing efforts at the gym or on the field is clearly one of the main goals of working out, and this survey is just a small example of how some people may not put as much thought into workout nutrition as the workout itself. It’s likely that the debate about when to down that protein shake — and what exactly we should be doing about carbs — will continue on for the foreseeable future.
How do you refuel after a workout? Let us know in the comment section below or tweet the author @nicmcdermott.