Your post workout nutrition the meal you eat after a workout is probably the most important meal of the day for anyone who is looking to build muscle. Once you know the nutrients your body needs and what sources are best to obtain these nutrients, the post workout meal will probably become the simplest meal of your day. The purpose of this article is to give you that knowledge so let’s get to it.
What you should and should NOT eat after a workout.
Aside from water your post workout meal needs to contain 2 of the 3 macronutrients. Macronutrients are the ones that you need in large quantities: fats, carbohydrates and protein. The 2 that you need is carbohydrates and protein. Your post workout nutrition should not consist of any fats. The reason being is that fats slow down digestion. Your post workout nutrition is all about speed!!
There are 3 questions that you need to know the answer to regarding post workout nutrition.
1. Post workout meal how soon should I eat it after my workout?
2. Post workout meal should have how much protein and how many carbs?
3. What sources should my proteins and carbs come from in my post workout meal.
How long after my workout should I eat my post workout meal?
Your post workout meal should be within an hour of completing your workout. Fitness experts believe there is this "window of opportunity" that exists after your workout which it would be the most beneficial for your body to receive its post workout meal. This window is believed to be the first hour after you complete your workout. Again, you should try to get your post workout meal into your body within 1 hour. Personally, I have my post workout meal about 15 minutes after my workout and you will see how I do this at the end of my article. It is absolutely crucial that you consume your post-workout meal immediately after exercise. As indicated above, after exercise, the muscles are depleted and require an abundance of protein and carbohydrate. In addition, during this time, the muscles are "primed" for nutrient uptake.
As time goes by, this window gradually closes and by failing to eat immediately after exercise, you reduce your chances of promoting full recovery. To illustrate how quickly this window closes, research has shown that consuming a post exercise meal immediately after working out is better than consuming one just an hour later!!!
Post Workout Protein
Now that you know that time is important when it comes to your post workout meal, it’s also important for you to understand that this meal needs to be digested quickly. Your post workout meal is all about speed!! Egg whites and chicken are all excellent sources of protein but they are not the ideal sources of protein for your post workout meal. These sources mentioned are whole foods which mean the protein and its nutrients are digested slowly. If you ate this as your post workout meal a great deal of time would go by before it was digested and ready for use by your body but by then that window of opportunity would have come and gone. This is why the ideal source of protein for your post workout meal should come from a whey protein powder mixed with water. On the other hand, a whey protein shake will be digested quicker because it’s in liquid form and not to mention whey protein is the fastest digesting protein available. This is why so many have chosen whey protein as their source of protein for their post workout meal. As far as how many grams you should consume after your workout, I recommend around 15% to 20% of your bodyweight. For example, I weigh 200 lbs so I should get anywhere from 30 to 40 grams of protein in my post workout meal.
Post Workout Carbs
After your workout carbs are an extremely important part of your post workout nutrition. Carbs are your body’s primary energy source and will be used by your body to restore muscle glycogen that you have burned up during your workout. If your post workout meal does not contain carbs, your body may actually break down your hard gained muscle tissue for this purpose. If you are looking to add muscle and get bigger this would be horrible. Carbs are also needed to create an insulin spike which is needed to move nutrients into your muscle tissue quicker which helps jumpstart muscle repair after your workout.
Now that you know carbs are important after a workout, what should be your sources for carbohydrates? You are probably aware there are “good carbs” and then there are “bad carbs.” Most fitness experts out there suggest its ok to eat “bad carbs” after your workout. Bad carbs will create a better insulin spike over the good carbs. Personally, I no longer take this approach because I noticed my body fat percentage started to rise. The only time I would suggest “bad carbs” is ok is if your pre workout nutrition was poor or you did your workout first thing in the morning before eating (something you should never do by the way). However, it’s ok if your post workout meal contains some bad carbs just don’t overdo it especially if you want those six pack abs!! Fitness experts suggest that good carbs such as whole wheat bread, brown rice contain too much fiber, and fiber slows down your digestion which will decrease your insulin spike. This is what makes "good carbs" any other time of the day the best option. But by now you know the post workout meal is all about speed. And when it comes to speed, simple carbs digest far more quickly than the slower digested complex carbs. With that said, a baked potato or a couple slices of white bread are okay carbohydrate choices for your post workout meal. As for the amount of carbs for your post workout meal aim for 20-30 carbs for every 100 pounds you weight. For example, I weight 200lbs so I should get 40-60 grams of carbs for my post workout meal.
My Post Workout Meal
To finish this up here is what I do for my post workout meal. Before I leave for the gym, I put two scoops of whey protein inside my shaker bottle. I also grab a couple of bananas and a bottle of water along with my creatine of choice Creature by Beast Nutrition. After my workout I get into my car, open the shaker bottle, pour in the water, shake for 20 seconds and drink it down with my creatine pills. As I head home I eat my bananas. The whole process takes less than 10 minutes it’s quick, easy, and convenient and my post workout meal contains the best sources of everything my body requires post workout.
For more on muscle building nutrition see my post on Pre Workout Nutrition