Workout wonders

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 23 March, 2006, 12:00am
UPDATED : Thursday, 23 March, 2006, 12:00am

TO EAT OR not to eat? That's a question for many health- and weight-conscious gym-goers after a workout. Conventional wisdom has it that eating a hearty meal immediately after exercise can lead to weight gain. But the urge to grab a bite after a calorie-consuming aerobics or body-building session is often too great to resist.

How to manage a sudden craving for food after a workout? According to health experts, just do it. 'What matters is the amount and type of food that goes into your body,' says June Chan King-chi, president of the Hong Kong Nutrition Association. 'If the food you eat doesn't add to the daily amount of calories you normally take, it doesn't matter whether you eat before or after going to the gym. It's like spending $100. Whether you spend it in 30 minutes or an hour, it's still $100.'

That said, the post-gym, weight-gain theory isn't without merit. Extra kilos can be gained more easily after a workout because the resulting drop in blood sugar level triggers a craving for carbohydrates, raising the temptation to eat more than usual. With that in mind, extra attention should be given to what you eat and drink after a workout. Weight-watchers need look no further than the gym snack bar or restaurant. Most fitness centres offer at least a token health drink or snack. In these health-conscious surroundings, caffeine-laden drinks and greasy fast food take a back seat. Light and healthy dishes are the norm. Here are a few examples:

Phillip Wain

This women-only fitness centre, which has been going for almost 30 years, has a Health Juice Bar that offers a reasonable range of healthy drinks, with a light set meal designed by the gym's nutritionist that has no more than 400 calories. 'The average woman needs about 1,200 calories per day, so a meal with 400 calories is just right,' says spokeswoman Nancy Au. 'Some of our members spend three or four hours in the gym for exercise, sauna and facial treatment, after which they're starving. An eatery in the gym serving light meals saves them the hassle of going home to cook and keeps them healthy.'

What to drink Eight kinds of fruit juice, including orange, banana and grapefruit.

What to eat The daily special ($45) usually features rice or noodles, accompanied by the likes of mushrooms and steamed broccoli. Also on offer are free Taipan soda biscuits and fruits.

Available to Members only.

Membership fee $1,284 per month.

Where 5/F Miramar Tower, 1-23 Kimberley Road, Tsim Sha Tsui (tel: 2377 3888).

Pure Fitness

This upmarket gym has a spacious eatery, Red Bar + Restaurant, which serves healthy Californian fusion dishes. Its comprehensive menu and drink list offer special items catering to gym-goers. Diners can also take a breather in the alfresco dining area overlooking the harbour.

What to drink The drinks list features more than 200 items, including three muscle-building specials ($65) and 20 other health drinks such as guava smoothies ($45) and C-Energizer, one of the most popular drinks, made of orange, pineapple and strawberry juices ($45).

What to eat There are 60 American-style dishes, ranging from crispy fresh crab cakes ($108) to New Orleans jambalaya with chicken, shrimp and sweet corn ($178). If that sounds a little too hearty, focus on the healthy appetisers and healthy main courses. There are low-carbohydrate and low-fat dishes such as feta cheese with capsicum terrine ($108) and poached salmon fillet on coriander rice ($168).

Available to Members and non-members.

Membership fee $800 to $1,200 per month.

Where Mall Level 3, Two IFC, 8 Finance Street, Central (tel: 8129 8000).


There's a snack bar at each of the chain's four locations. Apple and orange juices and smoothies ($16-$30) help replenish water loss, and protein drinks made of banana and milk powder ($26-$30) and protein cookies ($20) enhance bodybuilding. 'All these foods and drinks taste good,' a spokeswoman says. 'But more importantly, they're effective in body-shaping and slimming, which is what most gym-goers want.'

Available to Members and non-members.

Membership fee $200 to $600 per month.

Where 1-3 Wellington Street, Central (tel: 2522 5229).

Fitness First

The chain's Sheung Wan branch has a MIX Juice Bar with a wide range of drinks and light or filling meals. The calorie amount of each food item, ranging from 200 to 500, is given on the price tag.

What to drink A wide and creative range of drinks are on offer, including berry and cream smoothies ($30-$34), aloe and wheat-grass juice ($18) and a detoxifier ($28-$36) made with apple, carrot, cucumber and pear juices.

What to eat There are dozens of light or filling items, including Caesar salad ($28, 280 calories), almond croissant ($12, 310 calories), and veggie wedge with tofu, spicy beans, mushroom and teriyaki sauce ($35, 390 calories).

Available to Members and non-members.

Membership fee $400 to $600 per month.

Where G/F-3/F Grand Millennium Plaza, 181-183 Queen's Road Central, Sheung Wan (tel: 3106 3000).

Ignite Fitness and Tanning

Specialising in personal training, the fitness centre offers a small range of protein drinks fitting for Schwarzenegger wannabes. 'After a gym session, you need to replenish protein loss if you aim to build muscle,' a spokeswoman says. 'Extra protein can help build new muscle fibre and increase the metabolic rate, which can enhance fat loss.'

What to drink Myoplex ($30-$45) and BonActive Electrolytes Replenishment and Rehydration Drink ($10).

Available to Members and non-members.

Membership fee No membership scheme. Each session costs about $700.

Where G/F On Hing Building, On Hing Terrace, Central (tel: 2525 3223).

Waterfall Golf-Gym Sports World

The gym-cum-golf sports club features a 1,000sqft restaurant, the Viewing Gallery, which offers not just a view of the club's golf driving range but also a reasonably healthy and simple menu.

What to drink There's beer, but the disciplined can go for fruit juices ($20).

What to eat Healthy appetisers include salad with corn, red beans and assorted veggies ($35). Most of the main courses feature fish, such as the fried salmon with tomatoes and corn ($45).

Available to Members and non-members.

Membership fee $225 to $400 per month.

Where 2/F Olympian City One, 11 Hoi Fai Road, Tai Kok Tsui (tel: 2875 5380).