Understand how to create the best post workout meals

Male in red Adidas t-shirt holding two bistro beef burgers.

Why should you eat post-workout?

Understanding how the right foods can help you before or after your exercise is very important because your body's state is affected by physical exercise.

When you’re working out, your muscles use up their glycogen stores for fuel.

For those that don't know, glycogen is a sugar (or Carbohydrate) in its storage form.

When we eat carbohydrates, our body changes it into a form of sugar called ‘glucose' that can be used for energy.

The glucose is changed to glycogen, a form of sugar that can be easily stored by our muscles and liver. This is a very important source of energy fro your body.

When you’re working out, your muscles use their glycogen stores as energy to fuel your workout, resulting in your muscles being partially depleted of glycogen which will then lead to the proteins in your muscles getting broken down and damaged.

When you have finished your workout, your body tries to rebuild it's glycogen stores and repair and regrow those muscle proteins.

This will also help with rapid recovery and initiate muscle tissue repair. This is where eating the right nutrients comes into place and people forget how important this actually is.

Topless man with a muscular physique working out in the gym

Eating the right nutrients soon after a workout helps your body.

  • Decrease muscle protein breakdown.
  • Increase muscle growth.
  • Replenish glycogen stores and initiate muscle tissues repair and adaptation.
  • Enhance Recovery.

Macro Nutrients such as proteins, fats and carbs should all be involved in your body post-workout recovery process.

Protein helps with repair and the growth of your muscles, giving your body the amino acids it needs to repair and rebuild.

Also giving you the building blocks required to build new muscle tissue which will then lead to muscle growth. Studies have shown that consuming 20-40g of protein maximizes the ability to rebuild and recover the body after a workout.

Don't skip the carbs.

Carbs written with carbohydrates on a black background  

Carbohydrates give you energy and aid the recovery process.

Your body breaks down carbohydrates into simple sugars, which are then absorbed into the bloodstream.

As the sugar level rises in your body the pancreas releases a hormone called insulin. Insulin is needed to move sugar from the blood into the cells, where the sugar can be used as a source of energy.

The role that carbs play in recovery goes back to glycogen stores. Immediately after exercise, your body needs to replenish its glycogen stores in order to prevent glycogen depletion.

Glycogen depletion, when glycogen stores have run out, causes gluconeogenesis. This is when the body forms glucose from new sources to compensate for the lack of glucose from carbohydrates. When this happens your body turns to the fats and proteins in your body to fill this need.

Fats are not your enemy!

Bottle of olive oil in a clear glass bottle on the side of a modern kitchen

Fats aren’t as bad as people make them out to be.

People tend to think that eating fat after a workout slows down digestion and inhibits the absorption of nutrients. While fat may slow down the absorption rate of your post-workout meal, it will not reduce its benefits.

Studies have shown that high-fat meals 45% of energy comes from the fat. It might be a good idea to limit the amount of fat you eat after exercise if you wish to absorb nutrients faster but in the end, having some fat in your post-workout meal will not affect your recovery.

Here are a few staple foods that you should be including in your diet and post-workout meals.

Though it's not an exhaustive list, it should give you a good idea base to creating your own post-workout meals, that will fuel your recovery after tough workouts and just as important eating foods you enjoy.

 Proteins  Carbohydrates Fats 
  • Eggs
  • Cottage cheese
  • Greek yoghurt
  • Tuna
  • Chicken
  • Salmon
  • Oats
  • Quinoa
  • Almonds
  • Venison 
  • Pasta
  • Potatoes
  • Bananas
  • Rice
  • Buckwheat
  • Bread
  • Rice cakes
  • Tomato
  • Corn
  • Raisins
  • Sweet potatoes
  • Avocado
  • Nuts
  • Chia seeds
  • Cheese
  • Dark chocolate
  • Coconuts
  • Tofu
  • Walnuts
  • Flaxseed
  • Nut Butter