I spend a good deal of time talking with my customers about post-workout nutrition. Here’s the secret: there is no “right” or “best” way to refuel your body after a workout. Protein shakes and drinks are convenient and portable, but whole foods in the form of a meal work just as well. You have to decide what’s best for you based on your situation with timing and availability.
Generally, you should consume a combination of carbohydrates and protein within 30 minutes after completing your workout. Fluid replacement is also important: aim for 20 to 24 ounces of fluid per pound lost during exercise (weigh yourself before and after your workout).
Following your workout, research supports a carbohydrate to protein ratio of 2:1 for short, low-to-medium-intensity workouts, or 3:1 for longer, harder sessions. (Check out best carbs post-workout.)
After your workout, you want to accomplish three things:
- Refuel – carbs, protein, fluid, and rest.
- Rebuild – aim for 0.8 grams of protein per pound of body weight, per day.
- Rehydrate – drink water every day; your performance needs may include electrolyte replacement, depending on the intensity and duration of your workout and environmental conditions (heat, humidity).
If you’re not incorporating smart nutrition strategies into your overall training plan, you’re sabotaging your results and compromising your goals.