Post-workout nutrition: What to eat after exercise?

Post-workout nutrition. What to eat after exercise

Let’s first understand what happens in the body when we exercise. This helps us to know why post-workout nutrition is important.

During the exercise, the glycogen present in the muscles gets used up. Glycogen is a form of glucose that is stored in the muscles. All the energy required for the body is initially taken from the glycogen.

Along with glycogen, the protein present in the muscles also gets slightly damaged. This breakdown of proteins is essential to form even stronger bonds as a result of exercise.

So, as glycogen usage and protein breakdown happen within the muscles, post-workout nutrition becomes essential to restore the nutrient levels.

Post-work nutrition helps your muscles to restore the glycogen storage and regrowth and restoration of muscle proteins. Hence post-workout nutrition helps in overall recovery.

Post-workout nutrition. What to eat after exercise
Post-workout nutrition. What to eat after exercise

What should your post-workout meal contain?

As discussed, the main aim of post-workout nutrition is to restore glycogen and restore muscle protein. Hence, the post-workout nutrition should be a good mix of carbohydrates and proteins.

Carbohydrates help you in the immediate glycogen supply to your body. Protein helps you in repairing and restoring your muscle. 

Normal people who exercise somewhere around 40 minutes to one hour don’t have much effect on muscle breakdown. Although it happens, it happens in small quantities.

But people who are athletes or athletes have more muscle breakdown. Also, people who do endurance training are likely to have more muscle breakdowns than people who do resistance training. 

Endurance training is those activities that involve more intensity like running, swimming, cardio, etc. Resistance training involves strength training, weight lifting, etc.

Quantity of protein to be taken

The quantity of protein taken depends upon the intensity, time, and type of the workout. Studies have shown that taking an average of 20g to 40g helps in muscle recovery.

Quantity of carbs to be taken

Carbohydrates help in replenishing the glycogen in your body. Again, the rate of consumption of glycogen depends upon the intensity and duration of your workout.

The number of carbs to be consumed also depends upon the time interval between two consecutive workouts. 

If you work out two times a day and for longer hours, you need more carbs to replenish glycogen present in your muscles. This can help you to better perform in your workouts.

But if you have a gap of one or more days between two consecutive workouts, you need not worry about replenishing glycogen in shorter periods.

Also Rea: 9 Simple Tips and Tricks for busy women to stay fit

Why your post-workout meal should contain both protein and carbs

So, both carbs and proteins are required to replenish and rejuvenate the muscles and energy in your body. 

Studies have shown that taking a post-workout meal that contains both carbohydrates and proteins helps better insulin production.

Insulin is a hormone that is secreted by the pancreas. The glucose which is formed from the food we eat is stored in the liver. 

Glucose is responsible for all the energy we get in our bodies. But this glucose is converted into glycogen by the insulin and supplied all over the body.

When the glycogen present in the body is utilized, insulin is secreted by the pancreas and again glucose is converted into glycogen and supplied to the whole body to get energy.

The proportion of proteins and carbs

Thus, after a workout, insulin secretion is necessary to produce glycogen in the whole body. 

So, taking a post-workout meal having both carbohydrates and protein in the ratio of 3:1 enhances the synthesis of both glycogen and protein.

Fats in post-workout meal

People usually have misconceptions when it comes to fat. All fats are not bad in general. 

There are also good fats that are present in nuts, seeds like pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, dairy, etc. 

Fats from processed foods and sugar should be limited completely as they are not only bad but also do not contain any nutrition in them.

A moderate amount of fat consumption will not affect your recovery post-workout. Hence, you can take all three, carbs and fats in the required quantities in your diet.

When can you have your post-workout meal?

The glycogen present in your body acts as fuel in supplying energy to your body. The energy will be exhausted after your workout and the ability to absorb glycogen and protein is enhanced after doing the workout. 

You are recommended to take carbs within one or two hours of your workout. And, protein even 3-4 hours after exercise.

So, if you take a pre-workout meal that contains protein an hour or two before your workout, you probably skip having protein in your post-workout meal.

Healthy food choices post-workout

We have discussed the importance of carbs, protein, and fats in your post-workout meal so far. 

Now let’s see the foods which contain them.


You can have simple carbohydrates after your workout in your meal. Simple carbohydrates are those which are easily digestible and can help release glucose in the blood easily.

Foods that are sources of simple carbs are grains, rice, fruits, oatmeal, potatoes, sweet potatoes, whole grain bread, etc.


Proteins are easily found in foods like yogurt, soya milk, chicken, whole milk, fish, eggs, etc.


Some healthy fats can be easily found in nuts, whole milk, seeds, nut butter, etc.

How essential is it to take post-workout nutrition?

We have discussed so far the importance of post-workout nutrition and the nutrients that should be a part of it.

Now let us discuss, is post-workout nutrition really important?

Most people take a small portion of snacks before a workout in the early morning to have some energy. 

But, after a workout, there is no need to take another meal between it and breakfast just because you have done a workout.

Similarly, if you do your workout in the evening, you can plan to have a post-workout meal as dinner and plan to include the necessary nutrients in it. 

Also Read: Benefits of Yoga for overall health and fitness

Final Word:

Although post nutrition is important, it is very essential for people who do intense workouts twice a day or athletes or athletes. 

Otherwise just planning breakfast or dinner as your post-workout meal is simple enough to complete the nutrition

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