Post-Workout Meal: What To Eat After A Training Session

Nutrition tips and food ideas.

Your post-workout nutrition is as important as exercising. After working out, your body needs the right nutrients in order to recover and help you progress. In this article we will give you tips to get the right post-workout meal.

  • Carbohydrate: When you perform a workout, your body uses glycogen as a primary source of energy. Glycogen is the main storage form of glucose, which is stored in your liver and muscles. Our body has roughly 500 g of glycogen in our body, which is 2000 calories. Therefore, it is important to eat carbohydrates in order to replenish your glycogen stores.
  • Protein: After your workout your body needs to regrow and repair the muscle tissues that have been damaged during your session. Thus, you also need to consume protein after your workout so your body can take care of your muscle growth.
  • Fat: Your body can use fat as a source of energy if you're doing a prolonged aerobic activity. Therefore, if you've done a long aerobic workout (e.g. running for more than 45 mins) it could be beneficial to consume some fat after your workout. If you performed an anaerobic workout your body doesn't necessarily need fat, but consuming some may not have an impact on your recovery.

Most people tend to forget about consuming carbohydrates after a workout. It is very important to replenish your glycogen stores with carbs so your body doesn't use protein in order to refill these stores.

The number of carbs you should consume after a workout depends on the calories you've burned.

You need 0.4 g - 0.7 g of carbs per pound (1 g - 1.4 g of carb per kg) per hour of exercise. Thus, if you weigh 170 lbs you should roughly consume 70 g - 120 g (0.4 g carbs * 170 lbs | 0.7 g carbs * 170 lbs) of carbs after an hour of working out. It's recommended to consume them within 45 minutes after your workout. If you wait longer than two hours, your glycogen synthesis can be reduced up to 50%.

It is recommended to have a 3:1 carb to protein ratio. So if we take our previous example of 170 lbs you should roughly consume 23 g - 40 g (70 g carbs / 3 | 120 g carbs / 3) of protein after your workout.

It is important to have both protein and carbohydrates in your post-workout meal. Easily digested foods tend to help you recover faster. It's why people tend to consume a protein shake right after their workout. Consuming theses nutrients in a liquid form will help you digest them faster and avoid getting bloated.

Protein powders are recommended, but not necessary to get results. Therefore, find something that works best with your lifestyle and nutrition habits.

You may want to reduce your fat and fiber intake right after your workout because they can slow down your digestion.

  • Carbs
  • White rice
  • Pasta
  • Potatoes
  • Fruits (banana, peach, pineapple...)
  • ...
  • Protein
    • Protein powder (including plant-based ones)
    • Lean meats (chicken, turkey...)
    • Eggs
    • Lean fish (haddock, tuna...)
    • Greek yogurt
    • ...

We can sweat lot when we exercise, especially if you are performing high intensity or aerobic workouts. The term "sweat-rate" is how much fluids you lose when you perform an activity. This rate varies from person to person and also depends on the activity being performed.

An average person sweats between 0.8 to 1.4 liters of fluids per hour of exercise. You're not only losing water, you're also losing electrolytes which are essential for your body to function properly. For example you can lose between 220 mg to 1100 mg of sodium for each liter of fluids. To give you some perspective, the American Heart Association recommends 1,500 mg of sodium per day for most adults. Therefore, it is important to refuel these electrolytes with sport drinks or by eating salty and micronutrients dense food.

  • Your post-workout meal is as important as working out.
  • Consume a high carb and moderate protein meal within 45 minutes after your workout.
  • You need 0.4 g - 0.7 g of carbs per pound (1 g - 1.4 g of carb per kg) per hour of exercise.
  • It is recommended to have a 3:1 carb to protein ratio.
  • A good example would be: 120 g of carbs and 40 g of protein post-workout.
  • Protein shakes are recommended, but not required.
  • Stay hydrated.

Here's a plan you can do at home:

  • Bob Murray and Christine Rosenbloom, Fundamentals of glycogen metabolism for coaches and athletes
  • ISSN exercise & sport nutrition review
  • A Scientific Statement From the American Heart Association
  • The role of post-exercise nutrient administration on muscle protein synthesis and glycogen synthesis.
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