Post Workout Nutrition: What Should You Eat After Working Out

You have to plan and take the most central meal of the day correctly if you want your diet campaign to maximize muscle growth.

This important meal is, of course, the one you have post workout.

A large proportion of veterans as well as almost all novice weightlifters underrate the magnitude of the post workout meal.

Strategic post-workout nutrition can significantly add to the efficiency of your training when applied properly and consistently.

Your body system is affected by three major factors following a forceful weight lifting workout:

1. Glycogen, the carbohydrate fuel that gives weightlifters the appearance of being pumped, is low.

Only certain kinds of carbohydrates will replenish muscle glycogen.

These can be found in specialty drinks consisting mainly of glucose and protein, and if possible you should guzzle one of these drinks within thirty minutes after training.

You can mix a number of useful products for an ideal post workout drink. 

You have to increase your capacity to store glycogen in your muscles so as to expand muscular endurance and thus become able to do longer and more intense workouts.

High-carbohydrate diets optimize muscle glycogen levels, and a high concentration of muscle glycogen enhances endurance exercise performance.

2. Protein breakdown is amplified.

Muscle protein status is negative when you’re hungry.

This means that more protein is being broken down than is being synthesized, leading to muscle protein loss.

Liquid nutrients after exercise can shift the net protein status in a positive direction. Taking in carbohydrates just after exercise also appears to have a marked effect on protein metabolism.

Why do carbs save, and even increase, the manufacture of proteins?

Amino acids are the subunits of proteins, and an enzyme called BCOAD, on which carbs have a calming effect, controls some amino acids.

BCOAD activity is also impacted by chronic training, which causes a slump in its activity in the muscles.

3. Muscle protein balance is negative.

This is regulated by the balance between protein synthesis and protein breakdown in the following way:

Muscle protein balance = protein synthesis – protein breakdown

Immediately after an endurance workout, protein synthesis goes down and protein breakdown goes up.

This leads to negative protein balance and loss of muscle.

Working out causes severe alterations in the metabolic atmosphere of muscle tissue and during training muscles use metabolic fuels at an accelerated pace.

For your body to mend damaged tissue and replenish fuel reserves, you must bring in carbohydrates, protein and fat into your system post exercise.

Immediately after a workout, for fast healing from exercise, you must:

1. Swiftly refill the glycogen stores in your muscles.
2. Quickly reduce the muscle protein breakdown that comes about with exercise, particularly high-intensity bodybuilding training.
3. Force further increases in muscle protein synthesis


I know carbs are the nutrient people are most afraid of these days, but honestly, they’re really not scary (or “bad”) at all.

In fact, they are an extremely essential part of your after-workout nutrition and play a key role in your post workout recovery.


Well, carbs will be used by your body to restore muscle glycogen that was depleted while you worked out.

If your post workout meal doesn’t contain carbs, your body may actually instead break down muscle tissue for this same purpose (which would suck).

Carbs also create an insulin spike which helps to move nutrients into your muscle tissue quicker.

So, now that you know your body requires carbs after a workout, you’re probably wondering what foods they should come from.

“Good Carbs” and “Bad Carbs?”

Well, you know how there are supposed “good carbs” and “bad carbs?” As it turns out, this is actually the only time when “good carbs” and “bad carbs” switch roles.

Meaning, typical good carbs (oatmeal, brown rice, etc.) contain fiber and other nutrients that slow down its digestion. This is exactly what makes them “good” any other time of the day.

But by now you know the post workout meal is all about speed. And when it comes to speed, simple/high glycemic carbs digest faster than complex/lower glycemic carbs.

Which means foods like white potatoes or white rice or a cereal like corn flakes are all good choices for a carb source after a workout.

However, just like protein, solid foods in general may not really be the absolute BEST choice at this time. Don’t get me wrong, they’ll still provide the same nutrition and get the job done. There just might be a better way.

And that’s where a little something called dextrose comes in. Dextrose is not a supplement… it’s actually just a type of sugar often used in sports drinks.

I know, I’m basically saying you should eat sugar. While that would be a terrible idea any other time of the day. 

Your post workout meal is the one exception because your body is in a state where it is perfectly primed to handle these types of foods.

For this reason, dextrose has also become almost an official choice for a post workout carb source.

How Many Carbs Should I Eat After A Workout?

Most people should look to consume somewhere between 0.25-0.4 grams of carbs per pound of their body weight from dextrose (a 175lb person would shoot for between 40-70 grams).

And once again, people who are VERY overweight should use their target body weight instead of their current body weight when doing this calculation.


Now that you know that time is of the essence when it comes to your post workout meal, this part is going to make a whole lot of sense.

See, eating this meal soon after a workout is important, but just because you are putting the food into your body quickly doesn’t actually mean the food is being digested and absorbed by your body equally as quick.

So, while chicken, meat, fish, and eggs are all fine sources of protein that I personally eat daily, they aren’t the ideal type of protein for the meal after your workout.

These foods are solid foods, and the protein in solid foods digest pretty slowly. You may have eaten a high protein food in your post workout meal. 

But by the time the protein is digested and finally ready to be used by your body, a whole lot of time would have passed. So…

What Protein Source Is Best?

This is why the ideal source of protein to eat after your workout is whey protein powder. Just mix it with some type of liquid (most often water) and you got yourself a drinkable source of protein.

A whey protein shake will be digested by your body much quicker than a solid food for two reasons:

  1. Liquid meals digest faster than solid food meals.
  2. Whey protein is the fastest digesting form of protein there is.


This is what makes whey protein pretty much the official choice of most people as their post workout meal protein source.

How Much Protein Should I Eat After A Workout?

As for how much, try to consume between 0.15-0.25 grams of protein per pound of your body weight (so a 175lb person would shoot for between 26-43 grams at this time). People who are VERY overweight should use their target body weight instead of their current body weight when doing this calculation.

Which Whey Protein Powder Should I Use?

I personally use and highly recommend Optimum Nutrition’s 100% Whey. It’s high quality, tastes amazing, and mixes easily. It’s the best selling whey protein there is.

Post Workout Carbs


The effects of fat in the post-workout meal are not well known. Essential fatty acids in adequate amounts have the ability to change physiology.

Some forms of fat may delay gastric emptying which could slow the rate at which nutrients become available to the tissues.

There is also some indication that cholesterol may be an important nutrient immediately after high intensity resistance exercise.


Insulin has a significant function in both carbohydrate and amino acid transport across the muscle cell membranes, and it also works as an important signaling molecule to fuel protein synthesis.

It’s obvious then, that insulin has a vital responsibility in post-workout recovery of protein balance.

Whether or not you need large insulin bursts depends on your aims – if you’re interested in maximum growth and recovery, then you should flood the body with protein, carbohydrates and insulin.

The muscle cells are extremely receptive to insulin following training. This critical phase of receptiveness is officially identified as facilitated diffusion.

Post Cardio

Eat a balanced meal one hour after cardio to burn body fat.

The rationale behind waiting one hour is to take advantage of your elevated metabolism and to allow your body to continue using its stores of fat for fuel.

Recovery Nutrition

The recovery process must be regarded as part of your training process. Directly following a workout, a “window of opportunity” is there for you to help your body refill its tank.

Good recovery will let you to restore nutrients, dispose of lactic acid, and replenish energy storage. This is also a superb time to supplement.

The quantity and form of carbohydrate used for recovery will depend on quite a few conditions. But there are advantages to liquid forms.

Quality and quantity is key if you’re concerned about building a great body, so this is not the best time to overindulge or feast.