08 July, 2011
Why Do I Need Sugar After Jogging?
If you’ve recently started a jogging routine, you might have discovered you crave high-sugar, high-carbohydrate foods afterward. Your body burns sugar for fuel during your workout. How much fuel you burn depends upon the time, frequency and intensity of your jog. You want to replenish your sugar stores so you’re ready for your next workout, but choose your sugar sources wisely so you satisfy your hunger without gaining weight.
Fuel for Energy
After a meal, your body turns carbohydrates into glucose. Glucose is used to meet immediate energy needs, or your body stores it as glycogen in your muscles and liver. Between meals, or when you’re jogging, you covert glycogen back into glucose and use it as fuel. During about the first 15 minutes of exercise, your body pulls glycogen from your bloodstream and muscles. After 15 minutes, it relies on liver glycogen stores. During low-intensity exercise or when glycogen stores become depleted, your body starts to burn fat for fuel
According to the Joslin Diabetes Center, exercise can diminish your sugar levels and glycogen stores, putting you at risk for low blood sugar. Eventually, your body will replace your glycogen stores, but it can take four to six hours or as long as 24 hours with a high-intensity workout. Carbohydrates are the sugar that your body needs after jogging. Certified running coach and personal trainer Meghan Reynolds on “U.S. News” recommends eating 4 grams of carbohydrates for every gram of protein after your workout. Unless you're running until exhaustion, eat low-glycemic index foods, such as oatmeal, because these foods gradually increase your blood sugar and prevent weight gain by keeping you feeling full longer.
Choose Sugars Wisely
Starting a jogging routine does not give you the green light to eat as much high-sugar foods as you want. Choose carbohydrate foods that will satisfy your sugar craving without a lot of fat and empty calories. Avoid cookies and candy, which contain a lot of added sugar. They are also high in calories and will leave you craving more sugar a short while later. Opt for complex carbohydrates, or starches, which are grain foods. Choose whole-grain foods over refined grains. Whole-grains contain the sugars you need but, unlike refined grains, don’t lose their fiber and nutrients. They will fill you up, replace glycogen stores and keep you full so you don’t overeat.
In her article, Meghan Reynolds recommends healthy post-run foods that contain the sugar and protein you need to recover from your workout. She mentions quinoa salad, turkey on whole-wheat bread, salad with fish, scrambled eggs and toast, whole-wheat toast with avocado and turkey or brown rice with sauce and lean meat. If you only have time for a quick snack, enjoy hummus with carrots, an apple with peanut butter or Greek yogurt. You also want to drink plenty of water. Water transports the nutrients from your meal or snack to your muscles.
- American Council on Exercise: Calculate Your Calories Burned
- Joslin Diabetes Center: Why Is My Blood Glucose Sometimes Low After Physical Activity?
- U.S. News: What to Eat After Running
- KidsHealth: Learning About Carbohydrates
- Iowa State University Extension and Outreach: Fluids
- U.S. News: Glycemic-Index Diet
- Kane Skennar/DigitalVision/Getty Images