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What’s The Best Food To Eat After A Workout?

by jenny sansouci on January 7, 2015

Friends! It’s 10:05pm and I’ve got my blue-blocker sunglasses on again while blogging. This whole challenge of posting a blog every day is really forcing me to work when I’d normally be sleeping or watching Revenge.


Today I’m sharing something I’ve been thinking about for awhile. The other day when I was at Barry’s Bootcamp, I noticed something. They make protein shakes that you pre-order before class, and they have them all lined up after class for everyone to drink right away so nobody has to wait for their post-workout nutrition to hit their veins.

It got me thinking.

What’s the best food to eat after working out? Does it actually make a difference? Does timing matter?

I decided to consult 3 people who I look up to in the fitness world – they are rockstar status fitness gurus!!! Here’s what they had to say.

Amy Clover, Strong Inside Out Bootcamp


The best thing to eat after a workout totally depends on your goals and the kind of workout you do. Timing your nutrition really does make a difference! There’s something we trainers call the “window of opportunity” which happens during and right after workouts (up to 2 hours after to be exact, but the sooner the better!); it’s basically your muscles’ optimal feeding time. If you do pretty tough workouts, your muscles need to be refueled with glycogen and protein in order to function optimally, keep metabolism revving and avoid injury. Something else to note here: feeding your muscles with a small snack or timing your meals for optimal muscle refueling will not make you bulk up! In fact, it could be the difference between getting that tone you’re after and being “skinny fat.” Just stick to clean, whole foods… like Jenny tells you. 🙂

Here’s a simplified guide (not the rules, but a guideline–there are always exceptions!) to work from if your goal is fat loss, general health or lean muscle maintenance:

  • If your workout consists of intervals, sprints, HIIT, circuit training, weight training or endurance training for over 45 minutes: eat or drink a snack that’s at a ratio of 2:1 carbs to protein within 2 hours of ending your workout. You can just time meals for after workouts so that you’re not adding too many calories into your diet. I find that right before breakfast is a great time to work out!
  • If your workout consists of 45 minutes or less of easy to moderate cardio like jogging, walking or biking: skip the post-workout snack altogether, or just time your next meal for right after your workout if you get hungry.

What Amy eats after a workout: I just blend up half a banana with 8 oz unsweetened vanilla almond milk and one scoop of organic, vegan protein powder (which is about 10 grams of protein) and add a dash of cinnamon. Delish! Join Amy’s at-home bootcamp


Noah Neiman, Master Trainer at Barry’s Bootcamp 

Noah-NeimanYou want to get carbs after a workout, but you don’t want to eat the carbs alone – eat them with protein. Carbs are like a school bus. If you eat them with protein, they’ll take your ass to school. But if you eat them alone, they’ll take you to the crack den. 

The intention with eating right after a workout is to restore glycogen in the muscles and build new tissue while your muscles are the most receptive to it. 60-90 minutes after a workout is what’s “recommended,” as far as timing your food, but really it’s about what you eat in the 24 hour window after the workout – glycogen will get restored as the day goes on. It’s not the end of the world if you don’t refuel immediately after.

Typically I would say aim for about 20g of protein, 20g of carbs, and healthy fats. The more energy you exert, the more carbs you’ll want to eat (although, if you are on a super low carb diet your body will eventually adjust to burning fat instead of carbs).

What Noah eats after a workout: I love eggs, and toast with almond butter and jelly. From my head down to my legs, I love eggs. Whole, organic eggs – nature’s perfect little basket of nutrients.


Joel Runyon, Ultra-marathon Runner, Impossible Fitness

joel-runyonPost workout, make sure you get protein to help fuel your muscles and some carbohydrates to replenish your glycogen levels and continue to build your muscles. Carbs + protein is where it’s at.

I subscribe to the Carb Back Loading school of thought where you should eat any high glycemic carbs that you’re going to eat within an hour post-workout, but depending on your goals, that may not be the best method to do on a daily basis.

What Joel eats after a workout: When it comes to post-lifting, the fastest way to get it all is in a smoothie. Dump a protein powder + some BCAAs into a shake, add water and drink while walking to the car / subway. Refueling after an ultra marathon typically includes eating whatever the heck you want to. 🙂 You just ran an ultra marathon!



OK! How cool are they? Thanks guys!

KEY TAKEAWAYS (from the brain of me, jenny):

So, it sounds like all 3 of these fit and fab peeps agree that CARBS AND PROTEIN are what you want to focus on, the closer to your workout’s end the better (but specific timing really is not the end of the world). Some people avoid too much fat after workouts (because it slows digestion so the other nutrients get into your system more slowly), and some people say, no biggie.

I think smoothies are one of the quickest ways to get these carbs and protein into your system, but if you aren’t into protein shakes you could also do what the peeps at Whole30 say, and eat starchy veggies and protein (think: sweet potatoes and eggs).

Something I read in a Whole30 fitness forum that I thought was helpful:  “If you are trying to lose weight and feel good without post-workout carbs, then skip them. If you are trying to maintain or gain weight/and or you need carbs post-workout to feel good, then eat those. Always eat the protein.”

I’ll be sharing my post-workout smoothie here on the blog tomorrow morning! Sorry to be a tease. IT WILL HAVE CARBS AND PROTEIN! Woo! I would share it now, but I have to post a blog every day, so I need new material. Don’t worry, I’ll post it early in the day so nobody has a panic attack! Jk. But it’s really really really really really really good.


So what do you guys think? I WOULD LOVE YOUR THOUGHTS! I KNOW YOU GUYS HAVE THEM! Let’s learn! Chime in. 🙂

Fun fun fun to have fitnessy people around that we can all learn from.
Love you guys!

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{ 1 comment }

Sloan February 7, 2015 at 5:56 pm


I’ve had this crazy notion that you “must” ingest the protein/carb combo within 30 minutes of ending your workout or all is lost (clearly, as I read – and observe in life, this is not the case).

The only other thing to add (which I find effective for me, a 5’0 frame who builds muscle relatively easily minus my arms – fuck you, arms), is mixing a combo of amino acids and glutamine to swig WHILE you’re working out (this tidbit helps me build muscle faster than just feeding my muscles post-workout).

I generally take two water bottles of ‘concoction’ with me to work out (because I’m a thirsty human). One shaker bottle always contains pure electrolytes, the other contains the amino+glutamine combo, – – then the protein shake is waiting to be downed post-workout. If I’m starving afterwards, toss in a small piece of sourdough bread with a healthy slather of crunchy almond butter with blueberries. Does the trick! Full and fuelled.

I love fitness rockstar shares! Always learn something new. Thanks 🙂

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