What and When to Eat After Training

By Robert Gray

You fueled for performance before your training session and you crushed it! You executed the workout correctly, achieved the appropriate stimulus, and now you want to make sure you maximize the benefits of your training by recovering to the best of your ability. Nutrition is a key aspect of optimal recovery from training and in the subsequent potential adaptation. What and when you should eat, or “refuel", after training depends on the length and intensity of exercise and when the next workout will be.

Carbohydrates, proteins, and fats are the three macronutrients found in our food. Of the three, carbohydrates are the most effective and efficient fuel source (stored as glycogen in our muscles, or found in our bloodstream as glucose) for our muscles/body during moderate and intense exercise. As a result of training our body depletes our glycogen stores and our blood glucose levels decrease. Ignoring the need to ingest carbohydrates to replenish our glycogen stores and raise our blood glucose level can lead to diminished training adaptation. A target of 1.5g carbohydrates per 1kg of bodyweight 30-45 minutes immediately after exercises and at 2 hour intervals thereafter is a great way to make sure you are replenishing your glycogen stores (energy stored in your muscles). The timing of refueling post-exercise is important because there is a window where our cells are more sensitive to insulin, which transports glucose into the cell where it is stored as glycogen. Eating in this window can make your replenishing/recovery efforts more efficient and effective.

Ingesting protein at a minimum 1:4 protein to carbohydrate ratio post-exercise has shown to decrease muscle soreness in endurance athletes. Branched-chain amino acids (BCAA’s) are the building blocks for proteins and some, like leucine, help decrease muscle soreness post exercise. Additionally, many fruits contain anti-inflammatory and antioxidant effects which could play a role in recovery and decreasing muscle soreness from training. Eating protein beyond the 1:4 protein to carbohydrate ratio can increase protein synthesis and potentially create an anabolic environment within your body.


McGill, Erin, and Ian Montel. “Performance Nutrition.” Essentials of Sports Performance Training, Jones & Bartlett Learning, Burlington, MA, 2019, pp. 498–516.

Sherwood, Chris. “How Does Glucose Provide Energ

y? | Livestrong.” LIVESTRONG.COM, Leaf Group, https://www.livestrong.com/article/25939-glucose-provide-energy/.

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