The Importance of Post Workout Nutrition

Posted by Renato Tavares BJJ - February 8, 2012 - Diet and Nutrition - No Comments

The Importance of Post Workout Nutrition

Protein Fruit Smoothie a great Post Workout SnackMost would think that the food we eat prior to workouts is, by far, the most important nutrition of the day.

That is actually incorrect.

If you could only eat 5 hours before or 5 hours after training, you should pick after every time.

While pre-workout nutrition is important, it is not nearly as important for athletes as their post-workout nutrition.

There are even some athletes who only train in a fasted state and wait until their workout is over to eat.  It is even possible to gain muscle and lose fat while doing this!

Now, I’m not suggesting anyone do this out there because intermittent fasting can be very challenging until your body adjusts to it.

What I’m doing is demonstrating how athletes can still perform at a high level without eating before a workout, but they would not be able to do this without eating afterwards.

Why, you ask??


Two reasons:

  1. Post-workout Recovery
  2. Post-Workout Nutrition is Pre-Workout Nutrition for the next workout.


Muscle recovery and full body recovery occur around the clock, BUT the most important recovery periods are:
the first thirty minutes following a workout and the nutrition that is consumed in the next few hours.

There is a window of time in which our body can hyper-compensate for the nutrients lost during our workout and that is immediately following the workout up to one hour afterward.
During this time, it is important to get some nutrients/calories into your system.  While regular-solid food would also work, a liquid meal would get into your system more quickly.

Some examples are a protein smoothie with fruit, a carbohydrate and amino acid drink, or chocolate milk.

Yes, chocolate milk is a good recovery drink if you eat dairy.  It has protein, carbohydrates, and calcium.  My favorite postworkout drink is coconut water(naturally sweetened) with Branched Chain Amino Acids.  It’s loaded with Potassium, Magnesium, natural sugars, fluids, and the amino acids to aid in recovery.  The possibilities are broad and tasty.

The second phase of your Postworkout Nutrition is the time between 1 and 5 hours of your workout.

Eating a healthy, mostly whole foods diet is very important in this phase.  Healthy starches(potatoes, rice, whole grains), lean meats(or legumes and nuts for vegans), and lots of fruits and vegetables(preferably fresh).

A meal of a large sweet potato, 5 oz. piece of fish, steamed vegetables, and fresh fruit would be a great recovery meal.

This type of eating should continue all day.  You may taper your carbohydrates towards the end of the day if weight management is one of your goals.

Post-workout nutrition is pre-workout nutrition for the next day.  The food you eat gives you energy and recovery for later.

It’s much more effective to eat further away from your workouts or training sessions instead of right before.

Calories and nutrients take time to assimilate and get flowing through our bodies.  Glucose is also stored as glycogen in the muscles and the liver.  This is stored energy for later.  Stored energy for your next workout!  So the post-workout meal becomes the pre-workout meal for the next day.

As you can see, post-workout nutrition is an essential part of any athlete’s successful lifestyle. The plan I’ve given you here is a basic outline of your best option for recovering.

That being said, even if you can’t follow it to a T, you can still recover if you just eat after your workout.

And remember: The sooner, the better!

Written By: Coach Bill Dayton
Personal Trainer/ ATTVB After School Director

No comments

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *