How to refuel effectively after a workout

Hello there,

Happy New Year to our readers, and welcome to the first post of the year.

Today is a follow on article from last weeks article, Are you Snacking Properly, PRE-WORKOUT?

We are going to discuss how to eat after exercise and how to do it properly.

The Low Down

A common misconception is that you should avoid eating after a workout, to avoid consuming excess calories and wasting the workout. Your bodies metabolism remains elevated even after exercise, so eating afterwards won’t derail your diet.

During an exercise bout the muscles breakdown and use your muscle glycogen (energy from food). The more intense the exercise, the more glycogen will be used by the body to fuel the exercise.

Think of it like driving a car. If you drive a medium to long distance at a steady, consistent speed, you will burn a moderate amount of fuel (cardio/fitness activity). Now say you hit traffic and are forced to stop and start on a regular basis, this type of driving will cause greater fuel consumption than the steady driving (Interval or high intensity training). In order to fuel properly after an exercise bout you have to consider the following.

Top Tip: The better you fuel after exercise, the quicker the body will repair itself, which leads to a better workout the following day.


Time of day

If your workout is first thing in the morning and you don’t have much time until work, a big breakfast would be a good idea. If you do your exercise after work, then you should take in a snack size portion of food immediately after your workout, saving the bigger meal for an hour later.


Quantity of food

The 30 minute window immediately following exercise is the golden window, to restore glycogen levels and help the recovery process. The portion should be a snack size, 200-300 calories is ideal. A personal example would be a banana and a glass of milk or peanut butter on toast. Find what works for you, remember the aim is not to have a meal, it’s just to restore your energy stores.


Type of food

The ideal ratio to consume is 3:1 carbohydrates to protein. You can play around with this ratio, remember that it’s mostly carbs you will be burning and fat, so protein is not the main focus. Protein takes longer for the body to break down than carbs. Consuming too much protein after a moderate bout of exercise is not an efficient method of refuelling. Protein is only used as an energy source, during ultra endurance events. Focus on light foods that can be easily absorbed by the body.


Special considerations

Protein shakes are usually very calorie heavy and full of additives that are not natural derivatives. Focus on natural sourced foods, you don’t need all that protein after a workout, no matter how intense it is. Have a good portion of protein in the next big meal so the body is ready to take it on board, to help the recovery process.


Sample Food Diary – Steve

7.45~8.00 Breakfast………A bowl of porridge with a spoon of Peanut butter and slices of apples or bananas.

12~12.30 Lunch…… Bowl of rice, some form of soup, light serving of beef/chicken/fish, some form of steamed or fermented vegetables (Korean lunch at school cafeteria)

3~3.30 Snack 1…. Energy bar/banana/apples…1 snack size portion

4.40~5.00….. Exercise bout, run ranging from 10km~20km or gym session

10~30 minutes after exercise…. Peanut butter on toast/banana/apple/glass of milk


I hope you took some information from this post. Share with us your post workout fuelling strategies.

Until next time,

Steve and Catherine 🙂



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