Updated: Sep 29
Post workout nutrition...is it important?
Yes! During your workout your muscles are hard at work, utilizing glycogen stores for fuel (aka energy), and proteins are being broken down and damaged. Post workout nutrition ensures you body is able to replenish glycogen stores as well as rebuild, repair and regrow muscle proteins.
Benefits of well-balanced post workout nutrition:
Reduced muscle soreness
Increased muscle growth
Decreased muscle breakdown
Carbohydrates and Protein.
You need Carbohydrates to replenish glycogen stores and Protein to aid in protein synthesis. The general recommendation is to consume a 3:1 ratio of carbs and protein within 45 minutes to 2 hours of completing your workout to best optimize nutrients and support your body’s ability to recover.
Consider this: post workout nutrition is key for weight training, interval training, and endurance training sessions that last 45 minutes or longer. The amount of carbs and protein you may consume might also vary by individual fat loss goals and/or muscle building goals. Post workout replenishment rules do not apply toward casual exercise activities, such as walking the dog, mowing and weeding the lawn, riding your bike to the store and back, etc.
Examples of post workout Carbs and Proteins:
Low fat chocolate milk
Dark leafy greens
Protein powder (mixed with low fat milk or water)
Low fat Greek yogurt
Low fat cottage cheese
Examples of post workout snacks:
Protein shake and 1 banana (100-150 calorie protein shake)
P.B. roll up with 1 whole wheat tortilla with 1 Tbsp. natural peanut butter & 1 Tbsp. low sugar jam or add sliced banana in place of jam
1/2 P.B. & J sandwich (whole wheat bread, low sugar jam)
1 whole wheat pita bread with 1 single serving cup of hummus
Single serving low fat Greek yogurt topped with handful of berries and 1 Tbsp. low fat granola
Single serving low fat cottage cheese with single serving fruit (such as pineapple or mandarin slices)
DIY trail mix (combo of unsalted nuts and dried fruit, store in snack size Ziplock bag for easy portion control!)
Single serving of low fat chocolate milk with 1 hard boiled egg
½ sliced apple, 1 low fat cheese (baby bel or cheese stick for example) and 8 whole grain crackers (or used 2 pieces of thin sliced cheese to make mini sandwiches!)
8-10 low salt pretzels with single serving hummus or natural nut butter cup
Examples of post workout meals:
Smoothie with 1 scoop protein powder, ½ C low fat milk of choice, 1 handful of dark leafy greens and ½ C frozen berries
1 C whole grain cereal and ½ C low fat milk of choice
Quinoa bowl with ½ C quinoa, ½ C berries and 1 Tbsp. sliced or chopped nuts (almonds, walnuts, pecans)
6 oz. salmon with 1 medium size baked sweet potato
Avocado tuna salad sandwich on whole grain bread: serving of tuna, ½ mashed avocado, dill and Dijon mustard to taste, diced red onion as desired, serve with ½ sliced apple
Turkey sandwich on whole wheat bread or whole grain bagel: 2 slices low salt turkey, 1 slice of low fat cheese, dark leafy green (such as romaine), sliced onion and tomato as desired, serve with 1/2 orange
Spinach and egg white omelette: 3 egg whites, 1 C baby spinach, ¼ C fat free crumbled feta cheese (or sub with ¼ C cottage cheese), diced sweet yellow onion and tomato (or make it a wrap by placing in 1 whole wheat tortilla!)
Bottom line: an important part of effective and efficient recovery post workout is to give your body what it needs to replenish, rebuild, repair and restore. The general recommendation for post workout replenishment is to a 3:1 ratio of Carbohydrates and Protein. How much an individual might need, will largely depend on the type of workout(s) engaged in as well as unique health and fitness goals (i.e. weight loss, muscle build, etc.).