Do you wonder what you should consume after training as an athlete to maximize your recovery? Or if it is even important?
I have said it before and I will say it again, FOOD IS FUEL! What you put into your body makes a difference and can positively or negatively affect your performance.
We have previously discussed the importance of pre-workout nutrition and why it is important to fuel properly before training. Just like proper pre-workout nutrition, post-training nutrition for atheletes is just as important for performance.
Proper refueling after training ensures appropriate recovery for your next training, prevents feelings of soreness, and helps muscle growth. That being said, what should you eat after your training session?
How do you optimize recovery from your training?
Post Training Hydration
Hydration is your first priority after training. You have probably heard protein, protein, and more protein. Yes, protein is important but you want fluids first! Without adequate fluids replenishment and proper hydration, your body cannot start to recover and build muscle mass. By consuming adequate fluid post-workout, you allow your body to restore balance and it also helps cool off your core body temperature.
Post Training Carbohydrates + Protein
After fluids, its time for protein, and carbohydrates as soon as your body allows it. Getting nutrients in ASAP is best but sometimes your body is not ready to accept solid food after a long and hard workout.
Post Training Fuel Examples
Here are some examples of a few small easily digestible snacks to have immediately following a long training session…
– 8-12 oz of chocolate milk + banana
– 1 Electrolyte drink + protein bar
– 1 protein shake + 2 cookie dough protein bites
All of these snacks include a liquid which is a little bit easier to digest and can be a great start to fueling after training if you struggle with fueling after practice.
What about a post-training meal?
After this initial snack, you should consume a full meal within 2 hours of finishing your workout. Ideally, I recommend consuming a meal as soon as possible. If you are going to eat a meal within an hour of finishing training (and are not hungry), you can skip the post-workout snack. I understand that is not always possible though, so make sure to fuel up with a snack!
Your post training meal should be made up of
- ~4:1 ratio of carbohydrates to protein for practice or training sessions
- ~2:1 ratio of carbs to protein for weight room sessions or on the field strength work
The combination of lean protein and complex carbohydrates promotes muscle recovery and glycogen replenishment. It takes 48 hours to properly restore glycogen, so preparing for your next training begins immediately!
Additionally, a proper ratio of protein to carbohydrates will help decrease your feelings of soreness so you are ready to go for your next session.
Post-Workout Meal Examples
- 4-6 oz of lean meat + 1.5 cup starchy carbohydrates (pasta, rice, sweet potato, regular potato, bread) + 1 cup vegetables
- 1 cup old fashioned oats made with 2 tbsp brown sugar + ¼ cup raisins + 2 hard-boiled eggs + 1 cup mixed berries + 2 tbsp all-natural nut butter
- 2 pieces of whole-wheat toast + 2 egg scramble + ½ cup sautéed veggies + 2 tbsp shredded cheese + ½ small avocado + 1 cup cherries
- 1 Blueberry Vanilla Smoothie Bowl topped with 1/2 cup cereal (more smoothie recipes in my e-book!)
As shown in the meals above, post-workout meals should…
- Prioritize carbohydrates and protein
- Include small amounts of anti-inflammatory fats (all-natural nut butter, avocado)
- Be rich in anti-inflammatory fruit and vegetables
Try these suggestions out to better fuel you through a workout and help you recover afterwards.
Creating a post-workout meal shouldn’t be hard, getting started is the first step! These are things that I discuss with my athletes in the Performance Fueling Club (PFC). PFC is an online sports nutrition coaching program that helps athletes with flexible on-demand content and live nutrition coaching with a sports dietitian.
If you are looking for guidance on post-training fueling, I encourage you to sign up today. We currently have open enrollment, and I would love to help support you in getting to your goals!