Is there really a “Time Window” for eating after workouts?
There are so many nutrition myths out there, but what has probably caused the most controversy is the timing of post workout nutrition – is it really important to eat immediately after a workout?
Well, one study found that for most people, food and protein consumption mattered more throughout the day than in the hour after a workout. In direct contrast, another confirmed nutrient timing is a must-do practice to gain any benefits.
So what should you do?
Personally, I like to refuel and replenish after my workouts. Sometimes it’s not immediately, but it is within about 30 min - 1 hour. But I also think you need to take both above studies into consideration.
Here are a few points about what and when to eat around your workout:
The daily total protein intake is as important (if not more) than just the protein after a workout. It is not just about immediate protein/food consumption — there is a much bigger picture to consider. To fully maximise your performance and recovery, it is important to consume enough protein and calories throughout the whole day, rather than looking at a single eating occasion.
While eating directly after a workout has short-term effects, by eating well through out the whole day promotes better overall muscle growth, fat loss and recovery in the long term.
Nutrient timing is important if you are working out again later. The body needs to replenish lost nutrients to help the muscles recover faster. After a workout, an immediate supply of carbohydrates helps maximise glycogen stores, which can improve your performance and recovery.
The amount depends on a lot of factors – whether you’re male or female, your weight, your overall muscle mass, and also what type of exercise you are doing. But the more often you work out or the harder you work out, the more you will need.
Nutrient planning is effective if you are training in a state of fasting. If you are training first thing in the morning and in you’re a state of fasting, (you have not had any food overnight/before your early morning workout), research has found you are more likely to have more muscle breakdown and will need more recovery time if you don’t replenish and refuel after your workout.
In order to switch your net catabolic state into an anabolic one, waiting too long, skipping your meal or just consuming protein won’t cut it. The best results are seen when people consume protein and carbohydrates together immediately after a workout.
So what’s the take home message? For the best results, it’s important to consume a healthy meal or snack consisting of a combination of protein and carbs after your workout. It doesn’t have to be as soon as you have finished, just as long as it’s within about an hour after. And it doesn’t have to be a large meal either – a snack is enough at times, just as long it keeps you going until your next meal.
It is also extremely important to continue to consume protein and carbs throughout the day. Again, you don’t have to eat a huge amount, but enough for your body and a steady flow through the day.
Need some help? I’m currently doing a few personalised meal plans, if you’re interested just send me an email or check out my ‘Get Shredded’ meal plans, perfect for helping you to ‘get shredded’ in a very short amount of time.