Post-Workout Meal Guidelines | STACK
X

Become a Better Athlete. Sign Up for our FREE Newsletter.

Post-Workout Meal Guidelines

November 13, 2010

Must See Nutrition Videos

A post-workout meal optimizes muscle recovery to improve size and strength in athletes. According to Tim Ziegenfuss, president of the International Society of Sports Nutrition, it should contain carbohydrates and protein in a ratio of from 2:1 to 4:1.

Protein gives muscles the amino acids they need to rebuild and recover. Experts recommend consuming a high-quality protein source within a half hour to 45 minutes following a workout. During this time, muscles are primed to rebuild and recover, making it important to consume easy-to-digest forms of protein—such as lean meat, chicken or fish, or a whey protein supplement.

If an athlete is low on fuel (carbs), protein loses its effectiveness, because the body uses protein as an energy source instead of to develop muscle. Adhering to the prescribed carb-to-protein ratio enhances the strength training process and won't subvert your gains.

Carbs from high-glycemic index foods—such as a sports drink, banana, brown rice, potatoes or pretzels—quickly restore energy so your muscles can absorb protein to maximize recovery. Ziegenfuss says, “Higher volumes of training necessitate a greater amount of carbohydrate, whereas athletes looking to improve body composition [i.e., lose body fat] should stay near the low end of the carb recommendation.”

Avoid foods that slow down digestion—those high in fat, like French fries, fatty beef and cheese. Also, in the 45-minute post-workout window, avoid  foods high in fiber—such as salads and whole grains. They limit your body's ability to deliver energy and protein quickly to the muscles.

To finish off their post-workout meal, athletes should focus on hydration. Cheryl Zonkowski, University of Florida director of sports nutrition, says to weigh yourself before and after a workout or game. For every pound lost, consume 24 oz. of water or a sports drink.

Check out these post-workout meal options for optimal recovery:

9 Essential Energy and Recovery Foods
Eat Mexican For Muscle Repair
Recovery Drinks
Lean Muscle Mass Nutriton
Chocolate Milk: A Well-Balanced Recovery Drink

Andy Haley
- Andy Haley is an Associate Content Director at STACK Media. A certified strength and conditioning specialist (CSCS), he received his bachelor’s degree in exercise science...
Andy Haley
- Andy Haley is an Associate Content Director at STACK Media. A certified strength and conditioning specialist (CSCS), he received his bachelor’s degree in exercise science...
More Cool Stuff You'll Like

3 Smoothie Recipes to Meet Your Nutrition Needs

Time Your Fueling for Peak Performance

Spice Up Your Workout With This Recovery Drink Recipe

Design the Perfect Muscle-Building Post-Workout Meal

Make Gains With This Post-Workout Shake Recipe

Why You Can't Ignore Pre- and Post-Workout Nutrition

Fuel Up Fast With 4 Smoothies From the New York Giants

4 Post-Workout Shakes for Recovery and Building Muscle

The DIY Athlete: Homemade Fruit Smoothies

KISS Your Way to a Perfect Post-Workout Meal

Eating to Reduce Post-Workout Soreness

Elevate Your Game With Pre- and Post-Workout Nutrition

Post-Workout Breakfast Muscle-Building Shakes

Top 3 Reasons to Take Dextrose Post-Workout

Post-Workout Foods for Any Occasion

Do You Need Protein Immediately After Your Workout?

The Power of Green Smoothies

Chocolate Milk after Workouts

The Prime Time to Build Muscle

How to Build a Performance-Fueling Smoothie

The Perfect Post-Workout Pasta Recipe

What to Eat to Get Bigger, Faster and Stronger

The Best Post-Workout Supplements and Nutrition

Simple Post-Workout Shake Recipe

How to Plan Your Post-Workout Nutrition

Cool Foods and Beverages for the Summer Athlete

The Truth About Post-Workout Carbs

A Guide to Muscle-Building Supplements

A Customized Approach to Post-Workout Nutrition

Benefits of Oatmeal, Pre- or Post-Workout

Fast Food and Student-Athletes

Post-Workout Chocolate Peanut Butter Shake Recipe

5 Protein-Packed Recovery Shakes

Hungry? Try the DIY Protein Bar

The Best Post-Workout Carbs

5 Tips to Increase Lean Body Mass

3 Recipes to Spice Up Chocolate Milk

The DIY Athlete: Homemade Fruit Strips

Fuel Your Performance With Salad: Here's How