The Surprising Benefits of Having Carbs After a Workout

Right after a workout your immune system takes a massive hit as your body goes into recovery mode from all your mad gains. However a paper published by Dr Jonathan Peake and Dr Oliver Neubauer in the Journal of Applied Physiology may have found a solution.

“Among various nutritional strategies to counteract immune depression during exercise recovery, carbohydrates have proven the most effective.” Dr Peake said. “Ingesting carbohydrates during vigorous exercise may help, because carbohydrates maintain blood sugar levels.

“Having stable blood sugar levels reduces the body’s stress response, which in turn, moderates any undesirable mobilisation of immune cells. However, more research is warranted to verify that this also helps to prevent infections and illnesses.”

However don’t go slamming back an entire pizza every time you work out. Dr Neubauer said the research suggested most people only need carbohydrates during high-intensity or prolonged exercise of 90 minutes or more.


“The consumption of carbohydrates before and during strenuous exercise not only improves endurance performance, but it can also minimise exercise-related immune disturbances,” he said.

“Between 30 and 60 grams of carbohydrates every hour during exercise help to support normal immune function. Examples of carbohydrates that could be consumed during exercise include carbohydrate-containing fluids, gels and bars consisting of different carbohydrates such as glucose and fructose. Alternatively, bananas may also do the job.

Don’t bother with antioxidants and immune boosting supplements though. The research doesn’t support their benefits. Rather a diverse and well balanced diet will keep you in working order a lot better.

It was previously believed that white blood cells get destroyed during stress and high intensity workouts, however it appears now that they just located to a different part of the body.

“Exercise is a form of stress and more vigorous exercise creates more physiological stress which causes physiological and biochemical changes in the body. To tackle the potential threats these changes highlight, the immune cells may simply move out of the blood stream to the lungs, for example.”


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