Carbs boost your immune system

You may have heard the advice about exercising when you are sick?

 If your symptoms are from the ears down, don’t exercise. Symptoms from the ears up, you are probably okay to do an easy workout. If you have a fever don’t exercise at all. If you are feeling a little under the weather it may be a good day to do an easy, recovery workout and leave the high-intensity training for another day.

Your immune system is responsible for fighting infection and for repairing muscle. If you are exercising intensely your immune system response will be compromised for disease fighting. Research from Queensland University in Australia has some great recommendations for recovering from high-intensity exercise. One of the researchers, Dr. Jonathon Peake says,

“People often have fewer natural killer white blood cells after a workout but we now believe they move to other parts of the body, rather than being destroyed. Exercise is a form of stress and more vigorous exercise creates more physiological stress which causes changes in the body. This still leaves our bodies vulnerable to infections and, generally speaking, the more strenuous the exercise, the longer it takes for the immune system to return to normal.”

Moderate exercise is known to increase immune system function and high-intensity exercise can suppress it unless you are supplementing your workouts with carbohydrates. 

That is correct.

Carbohydrates will boost your immune system after an intense workout, or one that lasts longer than 90 minutes. We already knew that supplementing our long distance activities with carbohydrates was necessary for fuel, but now we know it helps our immune system recover faster too.

The researchers recommend 30-60 grams of carbohydrates every hour of exercise. This helps immune function and provides fuel for working muscles. Gels, bars, sports drinks or a banana would all work well. They also suggest that after an intense workout, carbohydrate ingestion will help improve immune function, especially if you are planning another workout soon.


Great post workout snacks could include whole wheat toast with peanut butter and banana, whole grain cereal with almond milk and banana, homemade muffins, fruit smoothies, fruit, rice and beans, quinoa salad, veggie sandwich with hummus, pasta with tomatoes and beans. Eating immediately after an intense workout, or one lasting longer than 90 minutes, keeps you healthy and prevents overeating later in the day. Try to eat your post-workout snack within 15-30 minutes of your exercise. If you have a hard time eating after a big workout, drink a smoothie or have some fruit.

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