Post Workout Nutrition – What you need to know


The following is a guest post from Parth Shah of

Bodybuilders will tell you to eat a bunch of carbs and protein after working out. I tried this and I got fat.

Two questions have always haunted me:

1. What is the most important meal of the day?

2. What do I eat at this meal?

When you ask yourself the first question, another question comes to mind: What makes a meal important?

In my opinion, an important meal is one that feeds your immediate need and your long-term need. You only have one immediate need: replenish used nutrients.

What causes nutrients/calories to be used/burned?

· An intense workout

· A bunch of errands that wear you out

· A physically demanding job

· A super fast metabolic rate

A long-term need refers to your long-term goal. This can be burning fat, putting on muscle, gaining strength, or improving as an athlete. But this long-term goal isn’t really important when determining the most important meal, but it is important in determining the contents of that meal.

What have we learned from the above information? Your most important meal should reflect the time where you are most in need of food. This is very obvious, but unfortunately this is a forgotten element in diet design. I don’t think I need to go into the benefits of eating when you need food.

The second question is what do you eat at this meal?

If, for example, your goal is to burn fat, you may be following a low-carbohydrate diet. This is the perfect time to eat carbs. The reason carbs are avoided while fat burning is because this is the first source of energy. And if energy is not needed, then carbs are stored as fat. Protein may not be as important here as carbs are. You can take in gradual amounts of protein throughout the day to maintain your muscle. But the key here is getting the bulk of your carbohydrates (and calories) right after you workout.

If your goal is to put on muscle, you should be eating a lot of food in general. This should come as a no-brainer and hence your largest meal should be a combination of both protein and carbs. In terms of protein, I think this is an element of how hard you’ve trained. Protein is one of those nutrients which I believe we really don’t need a lot of. I was able to build muscle with 80 grams of protein a day, and when I upped it by 20 grams, my bodyweight shot up. If people aren’t gaining muscle mass, it has more to do with overall caloric intake and their training program. Not necessarily their protein intake.

What if your goal is athletic in nature? When you’re an athlete you wear out your joints more then the average guy at the gym. You’re doing a whole bunch of lateral agility movements if you play basketball or soccor. Your jumping around, ducking and weaving if you’re a martial arts guy. Focus on your healthy fats. My healthy fats are at least 40% of my total diet. Healthy fats are also very important if you’re cutting weight.

This was just a brief primer on post-workout nutrition, and few lessons we forget. There is no magic formula, as most bodybuilders claim. Not everyone needs 40 grams of carbs and 40 grams of protein after working out. Your biggest meal of the day should reflect your most calorie-intensive activity of the day (working out), and everything else should be specific to your long-term goal.

This article is based off of experience and observation. I don’t have any lab room science to back of my claims. But I believe my “claims” are common sense. Don’t you?

About the Author

Parth Shah is a Strength Consultant based in New Hyde Park, New York and can be found at his website,

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