A lot of people have a hard time with their nutrition in general.
For muscle mass, it’s actually effortless.
You need to eat more calories, which isn’t a problem whatsoever for most people.
For fat loss, it’s definitely a lot more complicated.
You have to be in a calorie deficit and find ways to optimize what you eat and when so you can maintain muscle mass, improve satiation, and of course, stay consistent.
With this in mind, what should you be eating after a workout to lose weight efficiently?
Let’s find out!
Macros To Consume After Your Workouts
If the majority of your food intake looks similar to this, you’re probably on the right track. Healthier foods are more nutrient-dense and fill you up much more than junk food.
After you’ve spent time training hard in the gym, you need to make sure you recover as quickly as possible.
The faster you recover, the sooner you can train again.
The more you’re able to train and recover from, the better off you’ll be when it comes to maintaining muscle mass and, of course, losing body fat.
The most essential nutrients you need to replenish after a workout are :
- Electrolytes, such as sodium.
Not only do you burn through muscle glycogen during a workout, but you also break down muscle fibers, which requires amino acids to repair them.
On top of that, you most likely sweat a decent amount after a hard training session. Which is why you need to consume some sodium as well.
That makes this very easy to determine what nutrients you should be prioritizing to optimize fat loss and maintain muscle mass.
What’s also important to know is what types of foods should consume to get these nutrients.
We all know people that workout in the gym and immediately go to a fast-food restaurant afterward because they “earned it.”
Which is obviously a horrible mindset to be in!
Instead, you want to consume a combination of fast and slow-digesting carbs and protein.
Why fast and slow-digesting foods exactly?
It’s pretty simple.
This will help with recovery and get you back to training quicker.
By taking in some slower-digesting foods, you get a slower release of carbs and amino acids into the bloodstream hours after training.
This combination makes your training more effective and will keep you satiated longer than just smashing a bunch of sugar and calling it a day.
The number of carbs and proteins you consume after a workout will depend on your individual calorie and macronutrient requirements.
Carbs, Protein, and Sodium Are King
These three nutrients are the most criticial when it comes to fueling hard training, maintaining muscle mass, and lose body fat.
In general, when the goal is fat loss, you want to save the majority of your carbs and sodium intake for pre, intra, and post-workout meals.
Proteins should be spread out throughout the day to ensure you have a steady stream of amino acids throughout the day.
Let’s say you’re eating 2,000 calories per day to lose weight; you’re consuming 200 grams of protein, 60 grams of fat, and 165 grams of carbs.
- Calories 2,000
- Protein 200
- Fat 60
- Carbs 165
And now, let’s assume you’re eating 4 meals per day.
2 pre-workout meals and 2 post-workout meals is a standard way to set this up.
I would set up your protein equally for each meal, carbs would be in the pre and post-workout meals, and the majority of fats in the first and final meals of the day.
I’ll explain why later.
- Meal 1 – Breakfast
- Protein 50
- Carbs 0
- Fat 20
- Meal 2 – Pre-Workout
- Protein 50
- Carbs 65
- Fat 10
- Sodium 1,000mg
- Meal 3 – Post-Workout
- Protein 50
- Carbs 100
- Fat 10
- Sodium 1,000mg
- Meal 4 – Dinner
- Protein 50
- Carbs 0
- Fat 20
This is an easy way to set up your diet to maximize your recovery, increase performance in the gym, and ensure you maintain muscle mass while losing fat.
Do you have any questions about why I set it up this way?
If so, let me know in the comments below to help you set it up for yourself.
List Of Foods To Eat After Workout
Now that we know which nutrients we need to consume post-workout, I’m going to show you precisely what you should be eating.
There’s nothing inherently special about these foods except for the fact that they check all the boxes I’ve stated above.
Adding more protein to your diet is the easiest thing you can do to lose more fat and maintain muscle mass for life. And no, you won’t look like these guys just by eating more protein. There’s more to it than that. But seriously more protein, please!
Protein intake post-workout is easy to figure out.
You can also consume things such as egg whites or other lean protein sources.
The key word is “lean.” If you consume a bunch of fat post-workout, it’s going to slow down your digestion.
This is usually a good thing, but post-workout, we want to digest as quickly as possible to get the nutrients into the muscle cells faster.
Carb comas are awesome and you should feel awesome when you’re in one. Carbs are the most important macronutrient right after protein so try to keep them as high as you can to power you through your workouts.
Carbs are easy to figure out, as well. We want to consume fast-digesting sources such as white rice, cereal, Gatorade, fruit juice, and other sources.
This might sound weird, but some of the best fat loss phases for me was when I saved all of my carbs for pre and post workout.
This worked out to around 100 grams of carbs pre and 200 grams post.
I would consume healthier carbohydrates such as fruits and whole grains an hour or two before training.
Then, I would eat an entire box of those skinny cow ice cream sandwiches after the workout.
This worked out to around 900 calories and about 180 or so carbs.
Because I had that to look forward to every day I trained, it made training hard and staying compliant to the rest of the plan easy.
Many people I know, including bodybuilders, consume a lot of their carbs post-workout in the form of cereal, high protein yogurt, and other sweeter treats.
As long as the rest of your diet is consistent and you don’t go over your calorie deficit: you’re absolutely going to lose weight and crush it in the gym.
Salt is usually neglected in the world of fitness. Everybody thinks if they salt their foods their heart will explode. And for most people this just really isn’t the case. So I ask you, why soooo salllttttyyy!?
Sodium intake is a tricky thing for most people. If you’re sedentary and have a history of high blood pressure, increasing your sodium intake isn’t a great idea.
On the other hand, if you’re an athlete training 3-4 days per week, odds are you can afford to add some sodium around your workouts.
It’s basically a performance-enhancing micronutrient that aids in muscular function.
Especially if you’re in a deficit and trying to lose body fat.
That extra boost that higher sodium levels give you is definitely welcome.
I recommend adding 1-2 grams of sodium to your pre and post-workout meals.
This might be something simple such as adding salt to your white rice and lean meat pre-workout meal.
Or, you might have to drink some Gatorade with salt after your workout.
I would track your sodium intake just like anything else. And of course, make sure you’re tracking your blood pressure to make sure you’re heading in the right direction.
I had slightly higher blood pressure at one point.
After training hard, drinking lots of water, and increasing my sodium intake to 4-6 grams per day, my Blood Pressure is pretty much perfect.
Just like anything, try it for yourself, and if you have adverse health effects, just adjust and see how you feel afterward.
Sodium intake is one thing that you need to pay attention to.
The majority of people who overdo it are already consuming processed foods, are sedentary, and just don’t do anything.
These people are at risk, so if you’re in that category, start small and track your progress just like anything else.
If you aren’t at risk, you could go up to 10,000 mg per day if you’re a huge bodybuilder or a Crossfit/endurance athlete.
What Not To Eat After A Workout
Believe me, I’m not hating on things like eggs, olive oil, nuts, and other healthy sources of fat. Not at all! But right after a workout isn’t the best time if you want to optimize your diet completely. Also these informercials are absolutely bonkers and I hate them and love them all at the same time.
This list is going to be a lot easier, honestly.
Immediately after a workout, you shouldn’t be consuming high-fat foods.
When you consume many fats with your meals, the fat encapsulates the food and slows down digestion by a large margin.
This is why so many people feel like they barely need to eat when they’re on keto.
The high fat, moderate protein diet is incredibly satiating and takes forever to digest.
If you’re trying to lose weight, save your fats for the morning and after your post-workout meal.
This will allow you to get the benefits of slower digesting food when you need them. This will help you stay satiated, so you don’t overeat when nighttime comes.
Post-workout should be just like Simba, Timon, and Pumbaa; Hakuna Matata. Just chilling, eating some good food, and vegging out after another hard day in the gym.
Finding out what foods to eat before and after a workout doesn’t have to be complicated.
You simply need to know what nutrients are required to recover the fastest.
The faster you recover, the more you can train.
The more you can train and recover from, the more muscle you’ll maintain and fat you will lose.
And the longer you can do this while being consistent, the greater your results will be.
With that, I turn it over to you.
What are some of your go-to meals for pre and post-workout?
Is it similar to what I laid out here or something entirely different?
Also, what are you going to take from this article and start using it immediately? Let me know in the comments below!
Until next time,