Post-Workout Nutrition

Post workout nutrition has 3 specific purposes:

  1. Replenish glycogen
  2. Decrease protein breakdown
  3. Increase protein synthesis

Simply put, athletes/exercisers want to

  1. Replenish their energy stores
  2. Increase muscle size and/or muscle quality
  3. Repair the damage that was caused by the workout

It’s important to understand that during your workouts, you’re not making gains.  Instead, you’re basically just tearing your body apart; you’re damaging tissues at a microlevel & using fuel.  This sounds like it’s not a good thing but in fact it is.  This is what ultimately makes us stronger, leaner, fitter, and more muscular BUT in the short term, it requires REPAIR.

The relationship between protein breakdown & protein synthesis represents the metabolic basis for muscle growth.  During a workout, muscle protein synthesis is increased slightly (or unchanged) while protein breakdown is dramatically increased.  So all in all, wer’re doing a lot more breaking down than building up throughout a workout.

“Window of Opportunity”

You have a small amount of time after your workout to re-fuel your body.  This window opens immediately after your workout & closes pretty quickly.  Research suggests that while protein synthesis (rebuilding) persists for about 48 hours after exercise, it’s most important to get post workout nutrition IMMEDIATELY, & within 2 hours after that.  

If you feed your body properly during this window of opportunity, you’ll see benefits & results.  If you delay (even by a couple hours) you’ll be decreasing glycogen stores and protein synthesis (rebuilding).

Finally, WHAT TO EAT…

Consume food or a meal consisting of:

  1. Protein (this is to help aid in protein synthesis)
  2. Carbohydrates (this is to help replace muscle glycogen & enhance the role of insulin in transporting nutrients into cells)

Feel free to shoot me an e-mail if you have questions about specific foods/snacks to consume post-workout! : )

Reference: All About Post Workout Nutrition by Ryan Andrews


2 thoughts on “Post-Workout Nutrition”

  1. So what foods would you recommend? I always have a problem picking the right foods and feel I am very picky or not hungry after I work out or run.

    1. A lot of people feel the same way & just aren’t hungry or wanting food after a workout. In the case, I’d go for some kind of protein smoothie or something you can drink. I usually make a smoothie with whey protein (Chocolate, Designer Whey), a bananna, & low fat chocolate milk. Chocolate milk is actually great after a workout because it has almost double the amount of carbohydrates & protein than regular milk and even most sport drinks. It also has calcium & a little sodium & sugar which helps recovering athletes/exercisers retain some water (to prevent dehydration) & regain energy.

      Some healtheir small snacks for after a workout that contain protein & carbohydrates you could try are:

      Hummus & Whole Wheat Pita or Hummus & Carrots
      Greek Yogurt & fresh fruit
      Sliced Turkey with cheese (just leave the bread out if you don’t feel that hungry & wrap a few pieces of turkey around a small cheese wedge)

      Hope that helps! : )

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