Post-Workout Nutrition

Post-Workout Nutrition

Good pre-and post-workout nutrition is critical for fuelling energy, building lean muscle and effective recovery.

Why is post-workout nutrition important?

Post-workout nutrition depends on your individual goals, genetics, and the intensity of training. After exercise, you need to replenish with protein and carbohydrates to help: 

  • repair torn muscle tissues (protein) 
  • replenish glycogen stores (what gives us energy). 

If training results in excessive sweating, you might need an electrolyte replacement during or post-workout. 

What happens if I neglect post-workout nutrition?

If you notice low energy and increased muscle soreness and fatigue, you may not be recovering correctly. Generally, poor post-workout nutrition may cause:

  • Increased fatigue (during exercise and throughout the day)
  • Reduced performance at your next training session
  • Unsatisfactory gains from the session
  • Increased muscle soreness

How long should I wait to eat after a workout?

The post-workout eating window for optimal recovery is 15 to 30 minutes. Start drinking water immediately after your training session. Even a snack or meal 60 to 90 minutes post-workout is effective.

Your body will continue to recover over the next 12 to 24 hours so be sure to eat a variety of foods (complex carbs, protein, fat and fibre). Refer to the list of complex carbs and proteins below.

What should I eat after a workout?

A post-workout meal should consist of:

  • carbohydrates to replenish energy
  • lean protein to promote muscle repair
  • water/fluids and electrolytes for hydration

Aim for: 

Complex carbohydrates
30-45 g

15 - 25 g


Fat consumption does not help with recovery from a workout but is essential for meal satiety. Fat helps fill us up because it delays gastric emptying. High-fat meals, and snacks, should always be eaten post-workout.

If taking sports nutrition supplements, during or post-workout is the perfect time to drink your BCAAs for hydration, muscle soreness and to assist in building lean muscle. 

To build a post-workout meal, choose a complex carb like:

oatmeal brown rice sweet potatoes
quinoa whole-grain products any fruit
nuts beans corn
peas  white potatoes barley


Pair your complex carb with lean protein to promote muscle repair. 

Examples of lean protein:

  • Turkey or chicken breast
  • Lean ground beef
  • White fish
  • Shrimp + shellfish
  • Pork tenderloin/ loin chop

Vegetarian proteins:

  • Tofu + soy products
  • Nut/nut butters
  • Beans/lentils 
  • Eggs + egg whites
  • Low-fat cottage cheese
  • Greek yogurt

More Meal and Snack Ideas

  • Egg omelet and whole-grain toast
  • Salmon with sweet potato
  • Oatmeal mixed with protein powder, banana and almonds
  • Pita and hummus
  • Rice crackers and peanut butter
  • Fruit smoothie made with protein powder or greek yogurt
  • 1 slice whole-grain bread with peanut butter
  • Protein bar + piece of fruit
  • Energy ball
  • Rice cake with peanut butter and banana sliced on top
  • Protein shake + 1/4 c dried fruit (raisins, cranberries, banana)
  • BCAA drink + 1/4 c dried fruit/trailmix
  • 1/3 c trail mix (nuts/seeds + dried fruit)
  • Bowl of high fibre cereal or oatmeal with yogurt and berries
  • Fresh fruit salad topped with Greek yogurt
  • Spaghetti with lean beef with tomato sauce
  • Chicken on a whole grain tortilla or pita
  • Burrito bowl
  • Tuna on crackers plus a banana


You will need to experiment with different foods to learn what is best for your body pre and post-workout. Proper nutrition is essential to help you optimize your performance and reach your goals. 


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