Updated: Aug 19, 2019
What do you eat after a workout?
What’s the best post-workout meal? Should you consume a high-protein meal to maximize your results? Should you consume carbs? There’s so much conflicting information about post-workout meals out there, it’s almost impossible not to get confused.
First off, let’s not take ourselves too seriously. The average person working out at moderate intensities every few days does NOT need any aggressive post-workout replenishment. Normal dietary practices following exercise will facilitate recovery within 24-48 hours. So unless you’re a triathlete who participates in multiple training sessions a day, there’s no need to lose sleep over post-workout meals. Then again, if you’re consuming a 350-calorie protein bar and a 600-calorie Jamba Juice smoothie with 75 grams of sugar after 40 mins of walking from machine to machine at the gym, you might want to rethink that.
Studies show that the best post-workout meals are HIGH IN CARBS, accompanied with SOME PROTEIN (e.g. 1 gram/kilogram of carbs and 0.5 grams/kilogram of protein - NOT the other way around). A bit of fat is also fine. Refueling needs to begin within 30 mins after a workout.
Here are a few things to keep in mind when choosing post-workout meals:
❌ Avoid simple carbs such as high-sugar foods (high-sugar protein bars and smoothies, refined bread products and other “calorie bombs”) which will cause your blood sugar to spike and erase possible gains.
❌ Avoid high-fat meals which will slow digestion and the conversion of carbs into glucose and glycogen.
❌ Avoid eating lone veggies. Remember: You need carbs with some protein. A post-workout snack consisting of only veggies will lack the basic macro nutritional necessities of a post-workout meal. There’s no point going crazy with the veggies right after a workout.
To sum it up:
* The amount of refueling needed depends on the intensity and duration of the workout.
* After a workout, your body sends a signal to the brain that says “Feed me dammit I’m starving!” Don’t choose the wrong foods in an effort to quickly satisfy that demand.
* If, after a workout, you find yourself thinking “I can eat whatever the hell I want, I deserved it”, PURGE THAT THOUGHT. It takes 30 mins of burpees to burn off a slice of pepperoni pizza. Calories in minus calories out - Simple equation. Do the math before you overindulge.
* After exercise, dietary goals are to provide adequate fluids, electrolytes, energy, carbs and protein to replace muscle glycogen and ensure rapid recovery.
* To get the biggest bang from your workout buck, replenish calories and nutrients with the right combination of protein and carbs. Limit calories that come from unhealthy foods loaded with fat and sugar.