A post-workout meal is critical for optimal recovery, body function, and body composition.
Fitness and nutrition information is getting better and better. There was a time when all we seemed to talk about was “calories in vs. calories out.”
So. Not. The. Case.
Most fitness professional now know that it is not just about the number of calories. The kinds of calories, the combination of different foods, and the timing of meals play into a healthy and strong body.
Nutrition is not just about looks but about the body functioning properly.
Post-Workout Meal Timing
A post-workout meal should be eaten within 35-45 minutes of exercise for optimal recovery.
A post-workout meal should be eaten w/in 35-45 min. of exercise for optimal recovery #sweatpink Click To Tweet
Eating carbohydrates immediately after exercise replenishes glycogen storages (what the body uses for energy) 2x more than 2+ hours after exercise. Full glycogen stores can also increase future exercise intensity and duration.
Adding protein with carbs to the post workout meal maximizes the body’s ability to restore glycogen levels, reduce muscle damage, and repair muscles.
When we exercise, our body breaks down muscle. Muscles grow when they rest and recover. So optimizing recovery is a crucial part of exercise.
Post-Workout Protein and Carbohydrate Needs
2:1 or 3:1 carbs to protein is ideal for a post-workout meal.
Carbs get a bad rap but they are fuel for our muscles and brain. People should strive to eat carbohydrates with at least 3g of fiber (25-35g of fiber per day is idea – the average American eats about 11-13g of fiber).
Top choices for carbs:
High fiber cereals
Whole wheat bread.
Carbs = .5 – 1g per kg body weight is recommended for the post-workout meal
100 lbs = 23g – 45g
140 lbs = 32g – 64g
200 lbs = 45g – 91g
A combination of fast and slow digesting carbs will help to immediately replenish energy needs and aid in prolonged energy.
Fast-acting carbohydrates, or simple carbohydrates, are easy to digest and supply the body with energy very quickly. Simple carbs are mostly found in refined grain products, some fruits, and some dairy. You can also find them in high-sugar foods such as candy and soda – but these are not your ideal choice for fast-acting carbohydrates! Simple carbs can be a good option before a workout if you need a quick boost of energy.
Slow-digesting carbs – such as yams, wild and brown rice, beans, legumes, vegetables, red potatoes, oat bran, rolled oats, and whole-grain and whole-wheat breads – and are loaded with nutrients and fiber. These foods produce relatively slow increases in blood glucose.
Protein = 20-25g of protein is recommended for the post-workout meal
Note: Bodybuilders and older adults may eat a little more protein, but the benefits start to taper off after about 20-25g.
Sources of protein:
6 oz steak – 42 g
6 oz tuna – 40 g
3.5 oz chicken breast – 30g
Porkchop – 22g
1/2 cup cottage cheese – 15g
1 cup yogurt – 8-12g (check label)
1 cup milk – 8g
1/4 cup almonds = 8g
Egg – 6g per egg
1 tsp PB – 4g
Don’t Forget Breakfast
Break-the-FAST. Breakfast is meant to break the fast from sleeping all night and it should be eating within 60 minutes of waking up to jump start your metabolism.
And while we are talking about sleep – getting 7-9 hours is optimal for recovery, performance, and metabolism.
What you (+ your clients) need to be eating in a post-workout meal. #nutrition #fittips Click To Tweet
10 Post-Workout Meals + Breakfast Ideas
Chocolate Beet Protein Post-Run Donuts from Jenn at A Traveling Wife
Easy Apple Sausage Breakfast Bake from Lindsay at Cotter Crunch
Breakfast Banana Split from Kat at Katalyst Health
Guacamole Toast with Fried Egg from Farrah at Fairy Burger
Quinoa Breakfast Scramble from Jessica at Semi Sweet Tooth
Sweet Potato Kale Hash from Lee at Fit Foodie Finds
Breakfast Burrito from Chrissy at Snacking in Sneakers
Whole Grain Muesli Bars from Sarah at The Fit Cookie
Gluten Free Banana Bread from Jill at Jill Conyers
Pineapple Upside Down Cake Bites from Kayla at Healthy Helper
Try these 10 tasty post-workout meals and breakfast ideas! #fitfam #fitness Click To Tweet
What do you typically eat after a workout?
What is your favorite breakfast food/recipe?
Trainers: Do you talk about the post-workout meal with clients?
photo credit: Turquoise and Palm
This is great info Sarah. I’m going to share it with a few PT clients. Thanks!
Thanks Jill! Yes, that is actually how this post came about 🙂 I put together a couple emails for clients in a program I am running about post-workout meals!
I am not always the greatest at doing this either – but am really trying to plan ahead and be more prepared! 😉 Just checked out your blog by the way – love it! 🙂
Thanks for sharing this amazing article with us. I appreciate your knowledge on nutrition. Many of your nutrition tips
has helped me live a healthy life. I enjoyed it. Thank you.
I loved your blog, very good tips, lots of delicious recipes !!
Thanks alot for these informations Sarah, I am definitely looking forward to try these out. Can’t wait to read your next articles 🙂
Like you do, I always emphasize the importance of breakfast. Working out without eating something will only do more harm than good in the body. Thanks for this, Sarah. I know many readers like me will learn many tips from this.