What To Eat After A Workout – The Ultimate Guide

When you stop working out it’s really important to eat something. In this article I’m going to tell you what to eat after a workout.

I spent a day going through many research papers and studies and gathered all the information you need to plan a balanced post-workout nutrition.

I decided to make this article because there are still many people nowadays that don’t understand if you don’t eat a snack or a meal after working out you will decrease the benefits you will reap of the workout you did.

This is what you will learn in this article:

Why You Should Eat After A Workout
When Should You Eat?
Macronutrients
Post-Workout Meals
Hydration Is Really Important
What To Do Next

Keep reading to find out all about it.

Why You Should Eat After A Workout 

It’s really important to always eat after working out. When you work out your body creates micro-tears in your muscles and if you don’t eat after that you are decreasing your body’s ability to repair those micro-tears and make your muscles grow. Also, when you exercise, your body will use its glycogen stores as fuel, depleting its levels, and if you don’t eat you will most likely feel lethargic. For these reasons, you should opt for a protein and carbohydrates meal, to help your body recover and reduce your fatigue. [1,2,3]

When Should You Eat?

Right after your workout is when your body has the most capacity to restore its glycogen stores and protein. For this reason, ideally, you should have a snack right after you stop working out. But if you can’t it’s okay, recent research shows that you will still reap the benefits from the post-workout snack even if you eat it a few hours later. [4,5,6]

Also, if you work out regularly you should make a habit of consuming small meals or snacks that include protein every 3-4 hours, across the day. This will help with your recovery. [7]

Macronutrients

If you want a good recovery after your exercise you need to make sure you are consuming the right amounts of the right nutrients in your post-workout. Below I explain why you need to consume each macronutrient.

Carbs

You should always consume carbohydrates after working out to help restore your glycogen stores. When you work out, your muscles will use the glycogen stored in your body as fuel. Glycogen is how your body stores the glucose you consume, mainly in the muscles. For this reason, you need to eat enough carbs, because that is the way of giving your body glucose that it later processes into glycogen. [8]

Protein

It’s really important to include protein in your post-workout snack. When you lift weights, your muscles will create damages and the protein helps to stimulate their recovery, making them grow. Also, when you work out your body will experience a breakdown of muscle protein, and eating protein will help restore it. [9,10]

Fat

You don’t need to worry much about the amount of fat you eat in your post-workout. It may slow the digestion of your post-workout but won’t take away any of its benefits nor it will impact your recovery.

Make sure to always eat healthy fats like avocado, nuts, and dark chocolate.

Post-Workout Meals

Quinoa

Quinoa is one of the best post-workout foods. It has a high concentration of protein and fiber. It also contains carbohydrates, having the two most important macronutrients. It contains all the essential amino acids (EAAs) as well that have many benefits for your health. Quinoa is also suitable for anyone that doesn’t consume gluten being gluten-free. 

Avocado

Avocado is high in healthy fats, which is also important in a complete post-workout meal, helping your recovery. It also contains B vitamins that metabolize the macronutrients you consume and turn them into energy.

Eggs

Either for pre or post-workout, eggs are always one of the best choices to put in your meals as it contains a high amount of protein.

Be sure to consume the whole egg as you will consume all the essential amino acids (EAAs). This can lead to increased muscle protein synthesis, helping your muscles grow.

Sweet Potato

If you want a good post-workout food filled with carbohydrates, sweet potatoes are a good option. They will help you restore your glycogen stores and are full of vitamin A.

Protein Shake

Being one of the easiest ways to get all the protein you need after working out, there is no way protein shake wouldn’t be on this list. Besides the obvious benefit of getting exactly the amount of protein you need easily, most of the whey protein products being sold on the market also contain leucine, one of the essential amino acids (EAAs) helping your muscles grow.

Hydration Is Really Important

It’s very important to hydrate yourself before and after working out because when you work out, you sweat and lose water. Studies have shown that keeping hydrated leads to better performance and recovery. Also, dehydration can really decrease your workout performance, making you feel exhausted.

A man drinking water

Some symptoms of dehydration are dry mouth and dark urine so keep an eye on that. There is no right amount of water everyone should drink. We recommend you to follow the American Council on Exercise suggested guidelines:

  • Drink 17 to 20 ounces of water two hours before the start of exercise.
  • Drink 7 to 10 ounces of fluid every 10 to 20 minutes during exercise.
  • Drink 16 to 24 ounces of fluid for every pound of body weight lost after exercise.

What To Do Next

A good nutrition is crucial for your workout performance. Don’t forget to eat before working out as well.

Martim Pintão

Martim Pintão

Martim is a fitness enthusiast who loves to help people get into shape. He founded Dream Strength in order to do just that, and he doesn't plan on stopping anytime soon!

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published.