What is intuitive eating?
Intuitive eating has become more and more popular, resting on the idea that no foods should be restricted or banned, and that you should simply listen to your body and eat what and when you feel like it.
Although this approach may work for some individuals, it is important to consider that your body’s hunger cues may not always be accurate.
Why it might not be for you
For instance, a study concluded that in elite female endurance athletes, quick workouts, no matter how intense, could suppress their appetites immediately post exercise .
If these athletes followed the protocol of intuitive eating and listened to their body’s hunger cues, they would FAIL to recover nutritionally!
Your body needs carbohydrates post exercise to promote muscle glycogen resynthesis, and it needs it within 30-60 minutes post exercise for best results. In fact, studies show that if carbs are consumed even just 2 hours after a workout, the rate of muscle glycogen resynthesis is greatly decreased .
Similarly, your body needs protein post exercise to help rebuild muscle proteins. Protein acts within a similar window as carbohydrates: muscle protein rebuilding occurs at a faster rate if protein is consumed within 30-60 minutes post exercise. In fact, if protein is consumed 3 hours post exercise, it will NOT help to repair damaged muscle tissues at all .
To learn more about YOUR specific post training recovery needs, check out our Sports Nutrition Education Program (SNEP)!
Over time, repeatedly failing to recover nutritionally after exercise can worsen subsequent training sessions and impair athletic performance .
In severe cases, this can lead to Low Energy Availability (LEA), or a state in which an individual does not consume enough calories to maintain their basic biological functions . This can be extremely dangerous and lead to even more harmful health consequences including increased injury risk, impaired judgment, and depression .
So, intuitive eating isn’t right for everyone and for every situation. We recommend that our athletes recover properly within an hour post workout with both carbs and protein, even if they don’t feel hungry.
If you’re in need for some new post training snacks and meals, check out our Pre, Intra & Post Training Recipe E-Book!
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- Howe, S. M., Hand, T. M., Larson-Meyer, D. E., Austin, K. J., Alexander, B. M., & Manore, M. M. (2016). No Effect of Exercise Intensity on Appetite in Highly-Trained Endurance Women. Nutrients, 8(4), 223. https://doi.org/10.3390/nu8040223
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- Editorial BJSM Online First, published on April 20, 2015 as 10.1136/bjsports-2015-094873