What To Eat After A Workout? Why It’s Not A Big Deal

I’m sure you’ve done it before. You go to the gym and do this crazy workout consisting of weight lifting, sprinting, and stability ball back flips. Then you rush home, open your fridge, and try to decide what to eat after a workout (hopefully something with carbs and protein).

Okay, so maybe you don’t do stability ball back flips, but I guarantee that if you’ve been working out for a while, then you know exactly what I’m talking about. I mean, I used to be just like that. I used to stress about what to eat after a workout, and would literally freak out since the only thing I had in my house was some damn soy milk.

What to eat after a workout
I swear, I actually know people with cabinets that look like this

But I was a dumb little man back then. I believed everything I read online and in magazines and really believed that post workout nutrition was vital to your success.

Defining “post workout”

First off, let’s define what “post workout” means. Most people think that the post workout meal is the meal you eat right after you workout.

Well… this is technically true.

In a very interesting study conducted at McMaster University in Hamilton, Ontario, scientists tested 15 men. The 15 men basically performed a weight training workout, but didn’t eat any protein until 24 hours later. That’s an entire day of ZERO protein after a weight training session. If you told a bodybuilder to try that, he would probably kill you.

But what’s interesting about the study is that even after 24 hours, certain muscle growth markers showed a large increase after ingesting the protein. The bottom line is that eating protein post workout does cause anabolic activity in your muscles, but that activity can still happen as much as 24 hours later.

If anything, this study should tell you that it’s okay to not care about what to eat directly after you workout, because technically, any meal you eat after a workout is a post workout meal. It all depends on how you define post workout.

Bottom line: as long as you eat something within 24 hours after a workout, then you’re good to go.

A secret benefit to skipping your post workout meal

In my opinion, the main benefit of skipping your post workout meal is that it increases you HGH levels.

After you workout, your HGH(human growth hormone)  levels are very high, and this helps you burn fat. But the moment you put some calories in your mouth, whether it be protein, carbs, or fats; then your HGH levels are going to decrease rapidly.

If your goal is to maximize fat loss, then you may want hold off on eating anything for an hour or two.

But what if I want to gain muscle?

If you’re super skinny, and your main goal is to pack on muscle, then you may want to eat something within 1-2 hours after you workout.

Most skinny guys need to eat a lot to grow, so this is the ONLY time I actually recommend you eat something after you workout.

Take away points

Alright here’s the lowdown on post workout nutrition

  • There is no actual definition to “post workout.” The first meal you eat after a workout is technically your “post workout” meal.
  • If you want to maximize fat loss, then don’t eat right after a workout. Wait 1, 2 or even 24 hours if you are following a plan like Eat Stop Eat
  • If you want to gain muscle, try to eat something with protein and carbs within 1-2 hours of working out.

Bottom line: DON’T STRESS ABOUT IT. Try to get something with protein within 2 hours of working out but even then , don’t worry about it.

The only reason why the idea is so popular is because supplement companies make a ridiculous amount of money by promoting the idea that you need to eat right after a workout.

Just ask yourself this: if everyone is so concerned about what to eat after a workout and everyone is using post workout supplements, then why are most people still fat?

Just something to think about.

Let me know if you have any questions below.

13 thoughts on “What To Eat After A Workout? Why It’s Not A Big Deal”

  1. I don’t always eat a post workout meal either just because of the time I worked out at (midday during work) and I knew I was going to have a big dinner at home in a couple hours. Now I don’t have to always feel guilty. 😉 Thanks for this entry!

    • Hey Dave,
      I’m a big fan of “How Much Protein.” It really goes against what conventional wisdom has taught us about protein intake, and that’s a good thing!

  2. I don’t always eat a post workout meal either just because of the time I worked out at (midday during work) and I knew I was going to have a big dinner at home in a couple hours. Now I don’t have to always feel guilty. Thanks for this entry!

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