Post Workout Nutrition Timing

Guest Blog Post By: Phil Slater

So you just finished an intense weight lifting session or some sweat-inducing cardio? Great! But did you know you could be missing out on some huge benefits if you aren’t following a proper post workout nutrition routine? If properly executed, a proper nutrition plan following a work out could reap great benefits, and give you more bang for your buck with each and every workout you do.

Every time you finish another rep on the free weights or check off another mile on the treadmill, you are removing carbohydrates from your body and your muscles, and in essence breaking your muscles down. In order to make the most of your exercise, as well as properly restore your body and remain healthy, we need to replenish these carbohydrates at the conclusion of a workout. Unfortunately, this isn’t as simple as one carbohydrate in for every carbohydrate out, and there are a variety of steps you should be following throughout this process.

There’s been much debate about exactly when your post-workout meal should occur? Quite honestly, there’s not one right answer. How soon you should be replenishing carbohydrates depends quite greatly on what your exercise goals are, as well as what exactly your post-workout meal of choice is.

Looking to build muscle? Get those carbs back in your body as soon as you set down that dumbbell – ideally no more than 15 minutes after your workout has ended. Taking more of a cardio approach and looking to burn fat? You have time for a quick breather after getting off the treadmill. You should be shooting for 30-45 minutes post-workout to start replenishing all those carbs you just burned. Regardless of timing, you should not be consuming fats of any kind (every, really) within 4-6 hours after your workout. Not only will it inhibit quick delivery and restoration of carbohydrates, it’s also quite counterproductive to that killer workout you just finished. If for some reason you can’t get carbs back in your body within these windows, after about two and a half hours is when the clock runs out and glycogen replenishment and protein replacement will be highly compromised.

So you have these windows of opportunity to provide the best care for your body and make your workout as advantageous as possible, but what exactly is the best thing to be consuming to replace carbs?

Fitness professionals, dietitians, and nutritionists have been battling back and forth for ages, especially in this day and age with the rage of everything organic, about all natural foods versus nutritional supplements to achieve the aforementioned goal of carb replenishment. Regardless of your method of choice, a good guideline to follow is about 30 grams of carbohydrates per hour of working out.

At the end of the day, both of these methods achieve what we’re aiming for, and they both have their own benefits, so the decision lies in your hands, although each method does have its own unique benefits. While traditional, natural foods have their obvious, age-old benefits, the benefits of consuming those foods as liquids as well as the benefits of nutritional supplements are worth noting.

Thinking back to what we noted earlier, our ultimate end goal here is to replenish and repair muscles as soon as possible. By nature of the way the human body is designed, liquids and the nutrients contained within travel faster throughout the body, and therefore to muscles, much faster than solid food. This process is expedited even further with the addition of proteins such as whey and straight carbohydrates such as maltodextrin and dextrose. For comparison, a liquid meal will complete it’s course as quickly as 30 minutes, where a solid meal could take up to three hours. Simply put, the liquid meal requires much less work and digestion effort by the body than the solid meal. In addition to quicker muscle repair, a liquid meal often provides a quicker feeling of physical recovery than it’s solid counterpart.

Some more traditional liquid options are any form of smoothie with a milk/ice/fruit combination or low-fat chocolate milk. If you’re looking to stick to the basics, a turkey sandwich with a plethora of veggies (on whole grain of course) or yogurt with berries are both safe bets.

Of course throughout this process, we can’t be forgetting about good old H2O as well.

While carb replenishment is of highest importance, we also need to consider protein, which has a similar but somewhat more forgiving timeline. During our workouts, our bodies start a process known as protein synthesis which continues for about 48 hours depending on the type and intensity of workout. Roughly speaking, you should be aiming for about 15 grams of protein per hour of workout.

Ingesting proteins aids the synthetic process in releasing insulin. While the carbohydrates work great for repairing muscles, proteins and this process are a great aid in growing muscle.

While there are many factors to consider when putting together your post-workout nutrition plan, proper planning of timing and content intake can benefit you greatly.

About the Author
Phil Slater is a blogger and fitness expert who writes about all things relating to health and fitness. Over the years, Phil has helped many of his personal coaching clients live happier lives by helping them achieve their fitness goals. Visit Phil online at

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