What to Eat After a Workout

When planning a workout, there is a lot of ambiguity and planning that goes into to help reach your goals. And this is why there is a good chance you put a lot of thought into your pre-workout meal. But did you ever give equal thoughts on post workout meal?

To help you optimize nutrition after workout, here is a detailed guide.

Eating after a workout is important

When you work out the body use up glycogen, it is the body’s preferred fuel source especially during high intensity workouts. This results in the depletion of glycogen. Some of the proteins in your muscles are broken down and damaged.

After the workout, the body tries to rebuild its glycogen stores and repair and regrow the muscle proteins. Eating the right nutrients soon after you exercise can help the body to restore faster. It is especially important to eat carbs and protein after the workout. It helps in decreasing muscle protein breakdown, increase muscle protein synthesis, restore glycogen stores and enhance recovery.

Protein, carbs and fat

Each macronutrient- protein, carbs and fat they all are involved in the body’s post workout recovery process and this is why it is imperative to have that right mix.

Protein helps repair and build muscle

Exercise triggers the breakdown of muscle protein. The rate at which this happens depends on the kind of exercise and the level of your training, but even well trained athletes experience muscle-protein breakdown.

Consumption of an adequate amount of protein after a workout gives your body the amino acids it needs to repair and reset and rebuild the proteins. It also gives you the building blocks required to build new muscle tissues.

It’s recommended that one should consume 0.14-.023 grams of protein per pound of body weight (0.3-0.5 grams/kg) almost immediately after a workout.

One study has found that eating protein as pre workout and post workout has a similar effect on muscle strength and body composition changes.

Studies claim that ingesting 20-40 grams of protein seems to maximize the body’s ability to recover after exercise.  

Carbs help with recovery

The body’s glycogen stores are used as fuel during exercise and consuming carbs after the workout helps replenish them. The rate at which glycogen stores are used depends on the activity. Like endurance sports activities cause body to use more glycogen than resistance training. So, if someone participates in endurance sports they might then need to consume more carbs than someone engaging in weightlifting.

Consuming 0.5 – 0.7 grams of carbs per pound (1.1-1.5 grams/kg) of body weight within 30 minutes after training results in proper glycogen resynthesizes.

Also, insulin secretion, which promotes glycogen synthesis, is better stimulated when carbs and protein are consumed at the same time.

Thus, consuming both carbs and protein after exercise can maximize protein and glycogen synthesis.

Eating plenty of carbs to rebuild glycogen stores is most important for people, who exercise often, like twice in the same day, but if you take rest for 1 or 2 days to rest between workouts, it becomes less significant.

Fat is not that bad

People think that eating fat after a workout slows down digestion and inhibits the absorption of nutrients. While fat might slow down the absorption of your post workout meal, but it doesn’t reduce the benefits. It might be a good idea if one limits the amount of fat one eats after exercise, but having some fat in post workout meal doesn’t affect the recovery.

The timing of your post workout meal matters

The body’s ability to rebuild glycogen and protein is enhanced after you exercise. And this is why, it is recommended that one should consume a combination of carbs and protein as soon as possible after exercising. Earlier, experts used to recommend eating the post workout meal within 45 minutes, as delay of carb consumption by as little as 2 hours after a workout may lead to as much as 50% lower rates of glycogen synthesis.

Foods to eat after you work out

The primary goal of your post workout meal is to supply your body with the right nutrients for adequate recovery and to maximize the benefits of your workout. Choosing easily digested foods will promote faster nutrient absorption.

Below are the lists containing examples of simple and easily digestible foods:


  • Animal or plant based protein powder
  • Eggs
  • Greek Yogurt
  • Cottage Cheese
  • Salmon
  • Chicken
  • Protein bar
  • Tuna


  • Avacado
  • Nuts
  • Nut Butters
  • Seeds
  • Trail Mix (dried fruits and nuts)


  • Sweet potatoes
  • Chocolate milk
  • Quinoa and other grains
  • Fruits
  • Rice Cakes
  • Rice
  • Oatmeal
  • Potatoes
  • Pasta
  • Whole grain bread
  • Edamame


Consuming a proper amount of carbs and protein after exercise is essential. It stimulates muscle protein synthesis and improves recovery and enhances performance during the next workout.

It is important to not avoid food much longer than a few hours before refueling with a meal or snack.

And finally, replenishing lost water and electrolytes can complete the picture and help one maximize the benefits of their workout.

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