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Post-Workout Nutrition: What to eat after exercise

Workout nutrition can be confusing. So lets make it as simple as we can. If you would prefer to watch instead of reading here is my post-workout nutrition Q & A which explains, in more detail, what I am going to talk about in this post

Why is post-workout nutrition important?

The body metabolizes nutrients differently depending on activity. If you time your meals around your workouts you will benefit from better performance and recovery and may come with the added benefits of improved body composition and strength gains (1)

Why this meal should be different from the others

We can divide nutrition into 3 groups [known as macronutrients] that means:




Throughout the day it is best to consume meals that contain a balance of these three macronutrients, without getting into the specifics of manipulating fats and carbohydrates like the keto diet, paleo, etc,. However, post-workout nutrition is a little different. It's best to consume a higher ratio of protein and carbohydrates with some fat.

The three main purposes of post-workout nutrition

· To replenish glycogen stores [aka stored carbohydrates in muscle tissue and the liver]

· To decrease protein breakdown [aka slow down the rate of muscle damage]

· To increase protein synthesis [aka feed your muscles so they can + adapt to your training]

Hence the objectives are to refuel, recover and rebuild. Other proposed benefits of post-workout nutrition include:

· Improved ability to build muscle

· Reduced soreness

· Improved immune function

· Improved ability to utilize body fat

· Improved rate of recovery

When to eat

The “window of opportunity” is a hotly debated topic in the fitness industry. It purports that your muscles required immediate nutrients to repair muscle tissue and increase muscle growth and strength (2). However, current research suggests that the short 30 minutes – 2 hours window is more like 24 hours. This means that the total amount of protein and carbohydrates you consume in a day is the most important factor in determining body composition and performance (3). That said, for those people that have specific goals, post-workout should be consumed 1-2 hours after activity.

What to eat

More Protein + More Carbs + Some Fat.

Select a protein source that is high-quality. Choose whole minimally processed carbs over fast-acting carbs or refined options. Your digestive system and overall health will thank you in the long run.

When post-workout nutrition becomes important

· Competing in a competition [bodybuilding, fitness model, crossfit, marathon etc.,]

· Training for 2 or more hours

· Training more than once a day

· Training after an overnight fast

· Exhaustive training that lasts 1 hour [HIIT, crossfit, heavy lifting, spin class [no thanks]]

· Desire to build as much muscle as possible / gain more strength

· Increase fat loss for advanced exercisers

Short on time? Drink your post-workout meal

1 scoop, approx 15-20g, of protein powder with approx 30-40g carbs. Choose a protein powder that is high-quality. I use a mix of organic hemp and pea protein. Also, find a protein powder that doesn’t have an extensive ingredient list as many powders are low in quality and bioavailabiliy of nutrients.

Below is my favourite Super Smoothie recipe that I drink after my workouts that aids in recovery, tastes delicious, contains many micronutrients and is the right balance of protein: carbs: fats

Summary: Is post-workout nutrition critical?

In short, no. However, if you have specific performance-based or body composition goals then I do recommend getting a little more serious about your post-workout nutrition. If you have any questions about post-workout nutrition, for your goals, ask me in the comments below.

Click here for your easy post-workout cheat sheet.

Take care

Gemma - Generation Strength

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