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Understanding and Using the 4 to 1 Carb to Protein Ratio

Exercise is always an important component of leading a healthy and fit life. With exercise comes the need to recover and care for your body which can be unique to each person while considering the kinds of exercise one may be involved in. Recovering appropriately and in the healthiest manner possible is just as simple as following a basic carb to protein ratio.

The carb to protein ratio is simply the amount of carbs in relation to the amount or protein you ingest. When exercising, your body uses glycogen stores for energy that deplete within increasingly more proportionate ratios the longer you are engaged in physical activity. Restoring these glycogen levels after exercise is essential for muscle and strength recovery, organ function, and even hydration of the muscles and tendons.

There are numerous ratios to follow while the most common are 2 to 1, 3 to 1, and 4 to 1. The 4 to 1 ratio is generally more appropriate for more intense workout programs like endurance and marathon training, triathletes, and many of the Beachbody workout programs that one may be involved in. Those that are following more of a mild weight lifting or non-endurance cardio programs should consider more of the 2 to 1 and 3 to 1 ratios.

Creating the 4 to 1 Ratio

For simplicity purposes, there are a couple items to use for a quick grab-n-go 4 to 1 ratio. Picky Bars and Vega Sport Recovery Accelerator are commonly used and already have the ratio you will need.  Also, Beachbody has the P90X Recovery Formula that has this ratio. If you choose to create your own ratio, listed below are several combinations that will ensure your body receives what it needs.

Combine these ingredients together:

 

  • Nonfat plain yogurt, blueberries, and honey
  • Orange or apples plus almonds (Little higher in fat)
  • String cheese and orange or apple
  • Oats (oatmeal) plus milk
  • Crackers (whole grain), cheese, and a banana
  • Whole wheat pitas, hummus
  • For more calories, banana, peanut butter, side of yogurt, and brown rice or brown rice cakes (possibly save this one for longer run days)

Example:  If you are using yogurt, berries and honey, then yogurt is your main protein source.  Look at how many grams of protein are in one serving .  For Fage Plain Greek Yogurt, there are 18g of protein in a 100 calorie serving (6 oz.).  So, that means you need 72 g of carbs (4 * 18) to get your 4:1 ratio.  1.5 cups of blueberries has about 31 g of carbs,  2 tbsp of honey has about 34 g of carbs, and the greek yogurt also had 7 g of carbs.  The total comes out to 72 grams!  Total calories for this example:  100 calories of yogurt + 128 calories of honey + 126 calories of blueberries = 354 calories at a 4:1 ratio.

Now, you can just adjust amounts to fall within what fits with your goals.  Remember that this is really only for intense workouts.  You don’t want to be walking around the block and burning 200 calories and then going for a 354 calorie 4:1 snack.  My general rule is to eat about half of your workout calorie burn in your post workout 4:1 snack and to only use the 4:1 ratio for intense exercise.  So, if I burn 600 calories in an intense workout, I will eat about 300 calories after.  If the workout is shorter and only burns 400, I will adjust to a 200 calorie snack.

If you have any questions about this process or these combinations, please do not hesitate to reach out to info@9010nutrition.com and we will be happy to help in any way we can.

Here are a couple of videos to go along with this concept:

 




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