Today we're tackling post-workout nutrition!
What should I eat?
Protein is power
Protein powder in milk or water is a simple and easy way to consume protein quickly. A quality whey or plant-based option is your best bet (check out the suggestions at the end of this article). If you can't get on board with protein powder, greek yogurt and lean meats are also terrific post-workout protein sources.
Carb it up
The tried-and-true rice, potatoes, or oats are all excellent carb sources. Easily digested options like fruit or carb powder work well too, just make sure you are consuming them with your protein for optimal absorption. More often than not, I encourage my clients to consume “chewable” carbs (food) over carb powder (liquid). Carb powders are great for muscle mass chasers, competitors, and people who struggle to meet their daily carb goals. However, to put it simply, carb powders are unnecessary for the average gym-goer; PLUS when we elect to consume carb powder we miss out on the fiber GAINZ that whole foods provide.
Fill in those fats
While we want to keep fat consumption low before our workout, a moderate amount of fat post-workout can help us feel re-energized and curb that post-workout hunger beast. Hit up healthy fats such as avocados, nuts, olive oil, and nut butters.
How much should I eat?
Assuming this is a post-workout snack (not a full meal) we can use the following as guidelines:
Generally speaking, we want a MINIMUM of 20g of protein. However, I encourage most of my clients to consume closer to 25-35g.
For performance athletes + individuals aiming to put on serious strength and muscle, a 2:1 carb to protein ratio is a solid starting point.
i.e. 20g protein = 40g carbs.
For the average gym-goer/60-minute class crew:
Aim for 25-35g of carbs, almost a 1:1 ratio with your protein.
i.e. 20g protein = 30g carbs
If you are part of the 60-minute class crew you may be wondering, why fewer carbs? Well, we want to replace glycogen so we feel recovered, but the average gym-goer likely does not need (or want) to consume a significant portion of their carbs for the day in their pre/post-workout snacks.
Lastly, if you are planning to have a full meal within 60-90 minutes after your workout, you can actually consume just a protein shake and be a-ok!
Fats are flexible! Fats are not as critical of a component in your post-workout snack as protein and carbs, feel free to add them as you see fit. If it's easy to integrate them, anywhere from 10-15g is a good general goal.
When should I eat?
Don’t overthink timing. Seriously.
Studies have shown there is a “window of opportunity” after your workout where your muscles are essentially primed to absorb the nutrients from your food and convert them for muscle growth and recovery. That being said, don’t go wild trying to crush carbs and a protein shake SECONDS after your workout. You will still reap the benefits of your work in the gym even if you cannot eat immediately afterward. So, if you have to get to work, pick up the kids, get stuck in traffic, etc., don’t sweat it (but definitely consider packing your post-workout snack or a protein shake in your gym bag to ward off hanger). No matter how busy you are, you should aim to eat within 60-90 minutes of your workout in order to feel energized and recovered!
Protein Powder Suggestions
Below are a few of my favorite tasty + clean protein brands!
Ascent Native Fuel Whey Protein Powder
Bluebonnet Nutrition 100% Natural Whey Protein Isolate Powder Xwerks Grow
Optimum Nutrition Gold Standard 100% Plant Based Protein Powder
Orgain Simple Organic Plant Protein Powder
Sunwarrior Warrior Blend Organic Vegan Plant Protein Powder