The Golden Hour – Post Workout Nutrition

The Facts about “The Golden Hour”

Most of us have heard of “The Golden Hour.”  If you have not, this is 45 to 60 minutes AFTER a workout.  During this time, muscles absorb the most nutrients, and glycogen is replaced very efficiently since it was just depleted by the strenuous exercise.  There are some questions and assumptions that I have had about this so-called golden hour over the last 6 years of Crossfit that I decided to research.

Myth 1:  It is best to not eat before a workout so that you can eat during the golden hour.

Truth:  This is FALSE.  It is important to have food and good carbs in your body before a workout so that you have energy.  According to Jillian Michaels, trainer to the celebs, “your body needs some glucose (blood sugar) for fuel in addition to what it can use from fat stores when you’re working out. If you don’t have any blood sugar available, your body will eat the muscles’ glycogen, or stored glucose. Low blood sugar will also make you tired and sluggish during your training session.” The remainder of the article can be found here.

Personal Experience: I have felt this more than ever over the past few months.  I have started drinking a protein shake along with a caffeine supplement BEFORE I work out and have noticed significant improvement in my ability to push myself until the very end.

Myth 2: I can eat junk food during the golden hour.

Truth:  Even though your body is processing more quickly, this is not an excuse to eat donuts and French fries.  The suggested ratio of carbs to protein is 10% protein, 90% carbs.  Some good post workout snacks are:

  • Protein Shake and a Banana
  • Peanut Butter & Banana on Rice Cakes
  • Hummus and Pita
  • Yogurt and Fresh Berries
  • Tuna on Whole Wheat
  • Turkey and Cheese with Apple Slices
Next question:  What happens if you don’t eat during the golden hour?

We are all so busy and barley have time to even get in an hour workout much less plan a snack for after the workout.  I get it!  I am guilty more often than not to neglecting my post-workout snack/meal.  Here is what tends to happen if those post workout snacks are routinely skipped.  In an interview by SELF Magazine, Dr. Jennifer Beck, MD sports medicine specialist and pediatric orthopedist at UCLA says “Some people will just feel fatigue, and some people can get disoriented from low blood sugar.”  She also notes that ignoring post-workout steps that are essential for recovery, like proper nutrition, can contribute to overuse injuries. “We think a lot of overuse injuries happen when people are not replacing essential building blocks as readily as they should,” Beck says. This can especially become a problem if you’re doing heavy muscle-building activities and neglecting what your body needs to repair microtears and damage. Fixing those tears is how your body builds muscle; failing to do so puts your muscles at risk of further damage next time you work out.

Some tips for preparing a post workout snack:

  • Keep a clean protein powder in your gym bag
  • Pack a protein bar
  • Plan a social gathering following your workout time
  • Meal prep

I hope this post as well as the sited articles will help you understand the importance of post-workout replenishment as well as assist in helping you stay healthy and continue to crush your goals!