Post-Workout Recovery Nutrition
Updated: Jun 24
by Stacey Raza, certified fitness instructor and nutritionist
One of the most common questions I get asked as a nutritionist is what to eat before a workout. Equally important, but less obvious is what to eat after a workout.
Making the effort to exercise is for most of us the hardest part of becoming fit. But it’s really only half the battle. Paying attention to your nutrition is also critical to your success. During a tough workout, your body uses the energy stored in your muscles (glycogen) to power you through. That means consuming carbohydrates in your recovery nutrition is essential to replenish that energy. A tough exercise session also breaks down muscle so you will want to add protein to help rebuild and repair. Ideally, you should time your post workout snack within 60 minutes of completing your session.
The importance of recovery nutrition depends on the type, duration and intensity of your exercise session. Listen to your body. You may need more nutrition after a two-hour tennis match, than you do after a 30 minute walk. Post workout nutrition is especially important if you need to complete two or more training sessions during the day, or two sessions in close succession (ie. in the evening and then again the next morning).
Recovery nutrition is also critical if you start the workout fasting or with only a small pre-workout meal; if you work out in the morning for example.
Another scenario where recovery nutrition is important is if you are following a calorie-restricted diet for weight loss. You will need to ration some of these calories for before and after your workout.
If you are working out once a day or a couple of times per week recovery nutrition is still important, but you can most likely meet your nutrition goals from your usual intake without having to add additional meals or snacks.
Try some of these post-workout snacks/meals, your body will thank you for it later.
1 cup of chocolate milk
Turkey and veggies on a whole-grain tortilla wrap
Whole wheat toast with sliced banana and 1 tablespoon of nut butter