Nutrition, Training

What Should I Eat After A Workout?

Whether you’ve been lifting heavy in the gym, sprinting around on the sports field or just went for a jog around the block, what you eat as your next meal can play a pivotal role in putting energy back in to your muscles, helping them to recover and rebuild.

Here we will explain the importance of post work out nutrition, which foods you should focus on and how long after exercise you should eat them.

How Food And Exercise Work Together

Hard workouts leave your muscles depleted of energy and starving for fuel. It is important to put the right nutrients back in to your system at the right time to ensure that your muscles can recover and rebuild stronger, so that the next time you want to use them they have enough energy to go again.

The intensity of your workout will dictate how much energy you need to consume afterwards in order to bring yourself level again – the harder you train, the more energy will be required.

During an exercise session, energy stores (in the form of glycogen) are depleted, muscle tissue is damaged and fluids and electrolytes are lost through sweat. The priority for a post workout meal therefore is to replace the glycogen used, repair the muscle tissue and replenish the lost fluids and electrolytes.

Which Foods To Focus On And When

Simply put, good quality carbohydrates and lean proteins in the right amounts are what you should eat post workout. The quantity and timing will vary depending on your current body size and composition, the intensity of your exercise and your goals.

If your goal is to gain muscle and you train with high intensity, it is generally recommended to consume between 20 and 30 grams of protein and 30-40 grams of good carbohydrates after your workout.

This combination of macronutrients works in two ways – with the protein helping to repair and rebuild damaged muscle fibres, while the carbs return energy (glycogen) to the muscles.

If moderate exercise is more your style and your goal is simply to feel good and stay in shape, a well-balanced meal with a smaller amount of good quality protein and carbs is a great way to keep you feeling energised.

The post workout meal doesn’t have to be super complicated with shakes and supplements, nor does it have to be expensive. Here are a couple of examples of foods that can be enjoyed after a great workout:

  • Eggs on toast
  • Peanut butter and banana
  • Yoghurt with granola
  • Fruits and nuts
  • Chicken sandwich with tomato and avocado
  • A Swole Range meal if you are trying to gain muscle, or an Active Range meal if you’re looking to stay in shape

The other key component to post workout nutrition is hydration. When you exercise you tend to lose fluids and salts through sweat, with the amount lost dependant on the intensity and duration of exercise.

Making sure that you drink plenty of water after you train will help you to rehydrate and recover. Drinks like coconut water are a great way to replenish lost electrolytes after a long, sweaty session.

Timing Your Meal

Exactly when you should eat is largely up for debate, with some suggesting eating within 30 minutes post workout, and others suggesting at some point throughout the day. It is also heavily dependant on your goals and the type of exercise that you are performing.

If you are weight training with a goal of increasing muscle size, it is generally recommended to eat as close to the end of your workout as possible to maximise your anabolic window – referring to the short time after training in which your muscles are repairing and recovering.

After weight training, your body is in an anabolic state, which causes a range of cellular processes that facilitate muscle repair and growth. By consuming protein and carbs after training you help to fuel these processes.

If weight gain is not your goal and you simply want to refuel and recover to tackle the rest of your day, eating within an hour after exercise should be fine.

There is no hard and fast rule around nutrition timing. Some people find that they simply aren’t hungry after a workout, while others don’t have time to eat until later.

The most important factor in your post workout meal is not so much the timing of it but just generally making sure that you are eating the right nutritious foods for your goals.

The Takeaway

As with anything in life, there is no one size fits all solution. Finding which foods work best for you post workout will be a journey of discovery, one that will lead to fulfilment of your goals once you get it right!

We’ve given some basic guidelines as to the things to look out for and we hope that you find them useful. Feel free to follow them if you find that they work for you, and change things up if you find that they don’t.

If you’re finding meal prepping to be a workout in itself, our range of high protein, well balanced meals are designed to save you time while providing the right nutrition for your needs.

Why not get started with one of our starter packs, featuring 2 flavours from each of our Swole, Active and Low Carb ranges.

If you would like to discuss how each range might assist you in achieving your goals, feel free to get in touch with us and we'd be happy to talk you through it.