Now that you know what to eat before a workout, it’s time to figure out what to eat after a workout. After exercise, your body needs to refuel, repair, generate muscle growth and restore energy. When you’re in the gym lifting weights, you aren’t building muscle, you’re actually breaking it down and creating small tissue tears. It’s what you do afterward to recover that helps to build the muscle back up and repair those small muscle tears. The right nutrition will help optimize your recovery.
My tips for optimal recovery:
- The best thing you can do is to time your workout so that you are ready to consume a meal afterwards. Your meal should be complete with CPF (complex Carbohydrate, lean Protein and healthy Fat).
- If I had to pick just one macronutrient that is most important after a workout, it would be protein.
- Think protein = RECOVERY!
- Depending on your size, the ideal range to consume after breaking down muscle is 20-30 grams (of protein).
- After a long, hard workout, glycogen stores also need to be replenished in the body. This is where carbohydrate comes in to do the job.
- If you are unable to consume a meal afterwards or you are simply just not hungry, this is when you can grab something easy like a bar or a shake.
Easy Post-Workout Shake Formula:
- 1 cup of your choice of milk
- 1/2 cup frozen or fresh fruit
- 1 scoop protein powder
- 2-3 ice cubes
Optional add-ins for bonus nutrition:
- 1 tbsp chia or hemp seeds
- Raw oats (for more staying power and heartier texture)
- 1 tablespoon peanut butter, almond butter, or PB2
- 1/8 cup Greek yogurt or kefir (look for less than 10g of sugar per serving)
- 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon or turmeric
- 2 tablespoons cacao
- Handful of fresh or frozen spinach or kale
- Handful of broccoli sprouts (if you’re a real nutrition warrior)!
Need some caffeine? Replace the milk in your smoothie with cold brew coffee! Or, add Four Sigmatic Mushroom Coffee powder (sounds weird, tastes awesome AND gives you a brain boost)!
Be careful of ready-to-drink shakes on the market– MOST of them are full of sodium and additives. There aren’t many that get an A, but I have reviewed all of them here. My favorite is Svelte because it’s delicious and easy to find. The Capuccino flavor is the best– it’s like drinking an iced coffee that’s actually good for you.
As far as protein powders and bars go, most of them also have artificial ingredients that aren’t good for your body and aren’t made from real food. Read the label! If your brain doesn’t recognize an ingredient as food, neither will your body! Read my post on the best and worst protein bars here.
Some of my favorite brands of protein powder are:
Read more about what makes these the best protein powders here.
Do you have any tried and true post-workout go-to’s?