Best post workout food for muscle gain

Post workout is a crucial part of any fitness routine. It's the time where your muscles are most receptive to nutrients, and you want to ensure that they're getting what they need. That's why it can be such an important part of
Best post workout food for muscle gain

Whenever you embarked in your quest for a wholesome life-style, you have been undoubtedly instructed of the significance of the post-workout meal and ensuring you do not miss out on the “anabolic window.”

You have been additionally possible instructed that your exercise could be “wasted” should you didn’t devour a post-workout shake inside half-hour of your final set.

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In any case, bodybuilders and health club bros alike have been waxing rhapsodic concerning the vitality of the post-workout meal for many years, and so they’re a number of the largest, strongest human beings on the planet.

So, they have to be onto one thing concerning the significance of post-workout vitamin, proper?

Probably so.

Nonetheless, on the opposite facet of the spectrum are the people that say that as long as you devour sufficient energy and protein every day, it would not matter in case you have a post-workout meal or not.

And, they’re proper to a sure extent. Consuming sufficient complete energy and protein every day could have a way more important affect in your skill to realize muscle and power than whether or not you had a post-workout protein shake or not.

So, does that imply post-workout meals are fully pointless?

As with nearly every part in life, contextplays a reasonably outstanding function in figuring out simply how “vital” that post-workout meal is.

On this article we’ll focus on what post-workout vitamin is when a post-workout meal turns into a precedence in addition to what are a number of the finest choices to incorporate in your post-workout meal, do you have to want to have one.

What’s Publish-Exercise Vitamin?

Your physique is in a continuing state of constructing and breaking down proteins. This course of is named “protein turnover,” and underneath regular circumstances, the 2 happen at comparatively even charges. <1>

Whenever you train, your physique initiates protein synthesis, however the longer you prepare, the extra injury is finished to muscle fibers, and while you cease coaching, muscle protein breakdown begins to outpace muscle protein synthesis. <2>

In different phrases, intense train is a catabolicprocess.

Because of this you hear so ceaselessly that you do not “grow” while you’re within the health club coaching. Train supplies the stimulus that your muscle groups want to vary and adapt, however your physique does its restore, restoration, and development when its exterior the health club, not coaching.

Now, in your muscle groups to develop greater, muscle protein synthesis should be larger than muscle protein breakdown. <3>

Throughout this time, when protein synthesis is bigger than protein breakdown, your physique is in an “anabolic” (muscle constructing) state.

Due to this fact, if you wish to construct as a lot muscle as rapidly as attainable, you wish to do every part in your energy to maximise the period of time your physique spends in an anabolic state.

Following an intense exercise, glycogen shops are depleted, muscle fibers are broken <4> and insulin sensitivity is heightened, making your physique primed and able to soak up something and every part you throw its method to assist the restore, restoration, and development processes.

This era instantly following your exercise is named the post-workout (or “anabolic”) window, and the meals you devour instantly following your exercise is the post-workout meal.

Now, earlier than we delve into what meals are finest suited to the post-workout meal, let’s first focus on why you may wish to contemplate consuming a post-workout meal.

Why Eat a Publish-Exercise Meal?

So that you can perceive why post-workout vitamin is so important, it could most likely be helpful to grasp the aim of post-workout vitamin.

So, what’s the goal of post-workout vitamin?

Typically talking, post-workout vitamin has three major objectives:

  • Replenish Glycogen
  • Cut back Muscle Protein Breakdown
  • Enhance Muscle Protein Synthesis

In different phrases, people figuring out wish to:

  • Replenish Power Shops that have been Depleted Throughout Coaching
  • Kickstart Muscle Restore
  • Improve Muscle Constructing
  • Speed up Restoration

By consuming a correct post-workout meal, you possibly can accomplish all of those objectives.

So, Is Publish-Exercise Vitamin Essential?

It is a little bit of a loaded query.

Most individuals with a level from the College of Google and a Ph.D. in summary studying will level to the latest evaluation by Aragon et al. titled “Nutrient timing revisited: is there a post-exercise anabolic window?” <5>as proof constructive that nutrient timing is usually irrelevant.

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However, saying that post-workout vitamin would not matter is a gross over-exaggeration, simplification, and misinterpretation of the analysis.

Truthfully, the reality is that the “necessity” of a post-workout meal depends upon a number of elements, as we talked about above.

In case you’re coaching consists of hopping on the elliptical 2-3 occasions per week for half-hour at a time or simply performing some gentle circuit coaching a few time per week, then, by and huge, you need not fear about having a post-workout meal.

You will just do high-quality to deal with getting inadequate quantities of protein and sufficient complete energy every day.

Now, in case you are extra bodily lively, the place you prepare a number of days in a row, or carry out two-a-days, then the significance of post-workout vitamin turns into a bit bigger.

The extra lively you might be and the nearer your coaching periods and competitions are to one another the extra crucial post-workout meals change into as they’re essential to replenish depleted power shops and provide your physique with the important constructing blocks it must restore broken tissue.

Moreover, should you’ve plateaued along with your progress within the health club, or discovering your self horrendously sore for days on finish following your intense exercises, then likelihood is fairly good which you can profit from correct post-workout vitamin.

Primarily, it boils right down to this:

The sooner which you can get vitamins into your physique following a exercise, the faster the restoration course of begins.

The sooner you get well, the extra ceaselessly you possibly can prepare, and the extra productive you may be in these coaching periods.

Do that repeatedly over a protracted interval, and you will make considerably higher progress than what you have been doing.

When Do I Eat My Publish-Exercise Meal?

No speak of post-workout vitamin is full with out discussing the “anabolic window.”

As you are possible conscious, the “anabolic window” is the 30-60-minute window instantly following your exercise when you must eat your post-workout meal to capitalize on all of the good points made throughout your coaching session.

And as we said up high, failure to devour your post-workout meal on this timeframe results in good points left on the desk and a “wasted” exercise.”

But, is this true?

Is it essential to slam your protein shake the second you finish performing your last set of curls in the squat rack?

As we said before, it depends – context matters.

In this case, the immediacy with which you need to consume your post-workout meal depends on when your last meal was.

If you ate a substantial mixed meal (protein, carbs, and fats) an hour or two before your workout, then the urgency to get in your post-workout meal is considerably less as your body is still digesting, absorbing, and utilizing the nutrients from that meal. <5,6>

However, if it’s been 4-5 hours since your last meal, then you might want to hurry up and get that post-workout meal in your body.

Will you lose out on “every kind of good points” by not having your post-workout meal shortly after your workout?

Not really, but you’re not doing yourself any favors as the recovery and growth process can’t begin until you give your body some fuel to do the work.

So, what qualifies as an excellent post-workout meal?

What to Eat Post-Workout: Protein, Carbohydrates, and Fat


Earlier, we stated that your muscles are primed to utilize anything and everything you throw their way, and while you could go and crush a dozen doughnuts following a tough workout, that’s not exactly ideal.

Fortunately, you don’t have to do much guessing when it comes to figuring out what to eat post-workout, as numerous studies have been conducted investigating this very issue.

Following training, blood flow and insulin sensitivity increases, which increases amino acid transport and uptake into your muscles. As such, it would make sense that consuming some protein following your workout would be helpful.

After all, you just spent the better part of 60-90 minutes breaking down muscle tissue, which is made of protein.

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Therefore, by including protein in your post-workout meal, you’re helping stop muscle breakdown as well as providing the building blocks your body needs to repair and grow the muscles you just spent time breaking down.

Beyond that, research shows that protein consumed immediately following exercise stimulates muscle protein synthesis to a higher degree than when an equivalent amount of protein is consumed at other times of the day. <7>

As far as how much protein do you need post-workout, research has shown that 20 grams seem to be the minimum necessary to stimulate protein synthesis maximally. <8,9>

Ok, so we know protein is essential following a workout, but…

Are Carbohydrates Necessary Post-Workout?

The issue of whether or not carbohydrates are beneficial or necessary post-workout has been a hotly debated topic as of late especially when you consider the current mass carbophobia that’s been permeating throughout the fitness industry recently thanks to low/no-carb diets like Paleo, Primal, Keto, and Carnivore.

Fortunately, we don’t have to rely on the fear-mongering of fad diets for our post-workout nutrition recommendations; we have human studies to look to for answers.

A study published in the Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition showed that subjects consuming protein alone were just as effective as protein + carbohydrate when it came to repairing or building muscle. <10>

However, the group consuming carbohydrates experienced better recovery than the group that consumed protein alone.

Additionally, other research has shown that the addition of carbohydrates to the post-workout meal stops catabolism (muscle protein breakdown), enhances muscle protein synthesis, and accelerates glycogen replenishment. <11,12>

It’s also worth noting that consuming carbohydrates post-workout increases insulin levels. Insulin is a hormone that helps shuttles nutrients from the bloodstream into your muscles.

And, it just so happens that in addition to playing taxi driver for carbohydrates and amino acid, it also helps stop muscle protein breakdown. <13>

Now, a lot will be made of the importance of replenishing muscle glycogen immediately after training, but the simple truth of the matter is that if your next training session isn’t until tomorrow, you don’t absolutely “have” to eat carbohydrates post-workout.

However, if you’re a field sport athlete participating in multiple rounds of competition or training bouts in a single day, you want to get some fast-digesting carbohydrates in your following training, so your body has enough time to top off glycogen reserves ahead of the next go ‘round.

But, for the average trainee looking to build muscle and burn fat that only trains once per day, carbohydrates are secondary to protein in terms of post-workout meal importance.

What About Fat in the Post-Workout Meal?

If you want to include some fat in the post-workout meal you can, but it’s not going to confer any special muscle-building benefits like protein and carbohydrates can. It’s not going to hurt your muscle-building efforts or glycogen replenishment either if you’re only training once per day too. <15>

Fat adds flavor to food and helps keep you feeling full, but it also slows down the digestion of your meal. <14>

Now, this isn’t a big deal if you’re only training once per day, but if you are training or competing for multiple times per day, then you would want to minimize fat in the post-workout meal to allow for the carbohydrates and protein to be digested and absorbed as quickly as possible.

The Best Post-Workout Meal Foods

As we just explained, you want to focus on protein first, carbs second, and fats third.

The reason for this is simple. Intense exercise damages muscles and depletes muscle glycogen. Your top priority after training is halting muscle breakdown and initiating the repair and growth processes.

Protein and carbohydrates are the most effective macronutrients for accomplishing these goals.

Now, if you’re only training once per day, you don’t need to focus on how fast-digesting your meal is as your body will top off its glycogen stores over the next 24 hours, and you’ll be all set for tomorrow’s training.

If, however, you’ve got another round of practice, training, or competition later int he day, you want fast-digesting protein (such as whey protein powder) and fast-digesting carbohydrates (white rice, white bread, rice cakes, Cluster Dextrin, etc.).

Here are some of our favorite post-workout foods broken out according to their predominant macronutrient:


  • Whey Protein Powder (such as Steel Whey)
  • Chicken
  • Beef
  • Turkey
  • Pork
  • Eggs
  • Greek Yogurt
  • Protein Bar


  • Rice
  • Oatmeal
  • Potatoes
  • Sweet Potatoes
  • Fruit (strawberries, bananas, apples, etc.)
  • Chocolate Milk
  • Pasta
  • Quinoa
  • Green Vegetables


  • Nuts
  • Seeds
  • Avocado
  • Olive Oil
  • Egg Yolks
  • Nut Butter

Best Post-Workout Meal for Building Muscle

We’ll be honest; there is no “finest” post-workout meal for muscle gain. As long as you’re getting in quality protein and carbohydrates, you can eat the foods that you enjoy eating.

Here are some of our personal favorites meals to help build muscle mass:

  • Protein Powder + Oatmeal
  • Protein Powder + Yogurt
  • Steak + Baked Potato
  • Turkey Sandwich + Fruit
  • Pita + Hummus
  • Greek Yogurt + Berries + Granola/Cereal
  • Cereal + Milk
  • Peanut Butter Sandwich (Jelly is ok too!)
  • Cottage Cheese + Fruit
  • Grilled Salmon + Sweet Potatoes

The Bottom Line on Post-Workout Meals

A lot has been made over the years about whether a post-workout meal is necessary or not for muscle gains. The honest answer is that it depends on what your goals are, how long it’s been since your last meal, and when your next training bout is.

All that being said, having a post-workout meal for muscle gains has almost no downsides, but it will halt muscle protein breakdown and start the muscle-building process.

The next time you finish a tough workout, give one of these post-workout meals a shot and let us know which your favorite is by tagging us on Instagram @steelfitusa! Also, check out our Post-Workout Supplementsto help you repair and recover muscles.

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  1. Koller AA, Relucio J, Nik S, et al. Studying Whole-Body Protein Turnover Using Stable-Isotope Labeled Mice. J Biomol Tech. 2011;22(Suppl):S69.
  2. Kumar, V., Atherton, P., Smith, K., & Rennie, M. J. (2009). Human muscle protein synthesis and breakdown during and after exercise. Journal of Applied Physiology (Bethesda, Md. : 1985), 106(6), 2026-2039.
  3. Schoenfeld, B. J. (2010). The mechanisms of muscle hypertrophy and their application to resistance training. J Strength Cond Res, 24.
  4. Pitkanen, H. T., Nykanen, T., Knuutinen, J., Lahti, K., Keinanen, O., Alen, M., … Mero, A. A. (2003). Free amino acid pool and muscle protein balance after resistance exercise. Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise, 35(5), 784-792.
  5. Aragon AA, Schoenfeld BJ. Nutrient timing revisited: is there a post-exercise anabolic window? Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition. 2013;10:5. doi:10.1186/1550-2783-10-5.
  6. Tipton, K. D., Rasmussen, B. B., Miller, S. L., Wolf, S. E., Owens-Stovall, S. K., Petrini, B. E., & Wolfe, R. R. (2001). Timing of amino acid-carbohydrate ingestion alters anabolic response of muscle to resistance exercise. American Journal of Physiology. Endocrinology and Metabolism, 281(2), E197-206.
  7. Biolo, G., Tipton, K. D., Klein, S., & Wolfe, R. R. (1997). An abundant supply of amino acids enhances the metabolic effect of exercise on muscle protein. The American Journal of Physiology, 273(1 Pt 1), E122-9.
  8. Witard, O. C., Jackman, S. R., Breen, L., Smith, K., Selby, A., & Tipton, K. D. (2014). Myofibrillar muscle protein synthesis rates subsequent to a meal in response to increasing doses of whey protein at rest and after resistance exercise. The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 99(1), 86-95.
  9. Yang, Y., Breen, L., Burd, N. A., Hector, A. J., Churchward-Venne, T. A., Josse, A. R., Phillips, S. M. (2012). Resistance exercise enhances myofibrillar protein synthesis with graded intakes of whey protein in older men. The British Journal of Nutrition, 108(10), 1780-1788.
  10. Vandré Figueiredo, et. al., “Is carbohydrate wanted to additional stimulate muscle protein synthesis/hypertrophy following resistance train,” Journal of the Worldwide Society of Sports activities Vitamin 2013, 10:42.
  11. Zawadzki KM, Yaspelkis BB, Ivy JL. Carbohydrate-protein advanced will increase the speed of muscle glycogen storage after train. J Appl Physiol. 1992;72(5):1854 LP-1859.
  12. Ivy JL, Goforth HW, Damon BM, McCauley TR, Parsons EC, Worth TB. Early postexercise muscle glycogen restoration is enhanced with a carbohydrate-protein complement. J Appl Physiol. 2002;93(4):1337 LP-1344.
  13. Denne, S. C., Liechty, E. A., Liu, Y. M., Brechtel, G., & Baron, A. D. (1991). Proteolysis in skeletal muscle and entire physique in response to euglycemic hyperinsulinemia in regular adults. The American Journal of Physiology, 261(6 Pt 1), E809-14. familycuisine.web/10.1152/ajpendo.1991.261.6.E809
  14. Moghaddam, E., Vogt, J. A., & Wolever, T. M. S. (2006). The results of fats and protein on glycemic responses in nondiabetic people differ with waist circumference, fasting plasma insulin, and dietary fiber consumption. The Journal of Vitamin, 136(10), 2506-2511. familycuisine.web/10.1093/jn/136.10.2506
  15. Burke, L. M., Collier, G. R., Beasley, S. Okay., Davis, P. G., Fricker, P. A., Heeley, P., … Hargreaves, M. (1995). Impact of coingestion of fats and protein with carbohydrate feedings on muscle glycogen storage. Journal of Utilized Physiology (Bethesda, Md. : 1985), 78(6), 2187-2192. familycuisine.web/10.1152/jappl.1995.78.6.2187

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