Importance of Post Activity Fueling

When we train, even when we just go to the gym and “workout” we are depleting our bodies of glycogen and breaking down muscles all with the goal of stimulating adaptation to the depletion and muscle growth. That adaptation occurs in a few ways 1) your recovery practices and then 2) doing it again.

Recovery practices are vast from the sleep that you get, compression, baths, massages, supplements, nutrition, and so much more. Today we are going to talk about the very first step to beginning your recovery practices, your nutrition immediately following your training, exercise, or workout. Proper post training fueling facilitates:

  • Replenishment of electrolytes in the body

  • Fluid replenishment

  • Replenishment of glycogen in the body

  • Muscle repair, recovery, and synthesis

  • Decreases risk of illness and injury

  • Prepares the body to do it all over again the next day

There are two post activity (training) windows for fueling towards recovery. The first window is the 30 minute window immediately following training and the second window follow immediately after during the next 90 minutes after that 30 minute window.

30 Minutes Post Training

The first 30 minutes immediately following your workout or training session has shown to be one of the most important time frames in which the body can absorb carbohydrates and protein. This is usually one of the hardest time frames for people to get something into their system to begin the recovery process for a lot of reasons; scrambling to get ready for work at the gym, driving home from the pool or wherever you were out biking, not hungry because your stomach is a little touchy from the training, or just forget about it. The thing is, during this 30 minute window it does not mean you need to consume an entire meal but rather just something small like a snack, or protein shake.

Some people will argue that you immediately want to put carbohydrates into your system and others say Protein first during this time window, I personally like to get a ratio of carbohydrates and protein in order to begin both processes of restoring muscle glycogen and protein synthesis. To begin the process of restoring muscle glycogen and promote protein synthesis we want to ensure that during this window we are consuming a ratio of:

- 1:1 CHO:PRO for daily training, low intensity, low volume such as Yoga or weightlifting or recovery activities
- 2:1 CHO: PRO for exercise less than 2 hrs, with moderate to high intensity.
- 3:1 CHO: PRO for duration longer than 2-3+ hours or high intensity work

During this time frame you really want to consider the carbohydrate and protein sources that you consume, because the goal is to immediately begin replenishing muscle glycogen and protein synthesis you want to consume fast acting carbs and protein.

Simple and easily digestible carbohydrates are key because it promotes faster nutrient absorption. Now I want to stress the simple does not mean “bad” or “ sugary” such as candies or donuts for while they have carbohydrates and quick sugars all it will do is quickly spike your blood sugar not provide you with any nutritional value, but rather carbohydrates such as:
Sweet potatoes
Whole Grains
Nut butters

How do you calculate how many carbs you should consume during this 30 minute period? To calculate this I like to take the quantity of protein that I should consume, see next section, and then pick a ratio and do it based on the ratio:

- 1:1 CHO:PRO for daily training, low intensity, low volume such as Yoga or weightlifting or recovery activities
- 2:1 CHO: PRO for exercise less than 2 hrs, with moderate to high intensity.
- 3:1 CHO: PRO for duration longer than 2-3+ hours or high intensity work

So for example if I use the number of around 18 grams of protein, calculated below, then if I was doing a 1:1 CHO:PRO ratio then I would want to consume 18 grams PRO and 18 grams of CHO during this time frame.

The protein you consume should be high quality with a good amino acid profile. There are multiple types of protein sources such as the protein you find in whole foods or if you need a quick and easy way to consume some protein a protein shake is always a really easy option. During the 30 minute window you want to focus on consuming whey protein as it is a fast acting protein that your body immediately begins digesting.

How much protein should you consume post workout? There is a simple equation that can give you a good estimate to follow: 0.25-0.3 g per kg of body weight, so to calculate this you would take you body weight in kg and multiply it by ~0.25-0.3 g
Example: A 135 lb human at 61 kg would take the 61 kg and multiply it by 0.30 for a total protein of 18 grams, and for reference most whey protein powders are about 20 grams of protein.

You may be wondering what about Fat during this window? Fat is not necessarily an important macro-nutrient to consume during this time frame as it takes a lot longer to turn fat into an energy source.

Often it really is hard to consume a “meal” or make sure that you get the right number of proteins and carbs during this 30 minute time frame so really the key is to just get something into your system and here are some quick and easy examples:
- Whey Protein Shake with some Almond Milk (or even water)
- Banana with nut butter
- Toast with nut butter
- Chia Pudding
- Fruit - such as berries, melons, oranges, etc
- homemade smoothie

90 Minute Window

This is where you want to eat a complete meal, a “balanced” meal, with a ratio of carbohydrates, fats, and proteins along with a good number of calories that is based on what your body needs to fuel it for strength. This is an important window that is often forget because food was consumed during that 30 minutes then you get busy with whatever else it is that you are doing.

If you fueled properly during the first thirty minutes after your training you may find that you are not starving during this period of time, because fueling during that first 30 minutes actually can really help to keep you from going crazy with the cravings. The number one key to this window is that you re-fuel with REAL food, more times than not it seems people think they can grab something fast like a bar, fast food, or really fast easy stuff that does not offer a lot of nutritional value and just chalk it up to being calories and think that will satisfy but in reality you are depriving your body of the food it needs to fuel itself. I have shared the below charts before and want to share them again, as they are great examples of “real” foods that should be consumed:

food list.PNG

Personally, I am a huge smoothie fan after training, here is my go-to post workout smoothie bowls:

6-8 oz Almond Milk
1/2 - 1 cup Berries
1/2 - 1 cup Power Greens (ie: dark greens)
1/2 - 1 cup Beets
2-4 carrots
1/2 avocado
1 scoop Infinit RAW Protein Powder
1 scoop Maca Powder
1 tbs organic Cacoa Powder
1 tbs Organic whole coconut oil
Toppings: Hemp Seeds, Walnuts, Organic Honey, Organic Granola
Mix everything together till smooth (adding more water if necessary) except for the toppings. Pour into a Bowl top with organic honey, hemp seeds, walnuts, and a small amount of granola.


During exercise you lose water and electrolytes through sweat and it is just as important to restore your hydration status immediately as it is to fuel your body with food. The key is basically to replace the ounces of water you lost during the workout. You can determine the amount by weighing yourself before and after activity to determine how many ounces you lost during the event but that is often tough to do without access to a scale so really an easier tactic is to simply drink until your thirst diminishes or your urine is a light straw color.

You don’t want to reach for only water because you also need to replace your electrolytes. It is best to stay away from sugary drinks but rather simple drinks with electrolytes in them.

Making your post activity fueling a priority is key to giving yourself the energy to be able to either do another workout that afternoon or evening and for sure key to being able to wake up the next day and do it all over again. It is all a part of this idea of fueling your body for strength and optimizing the performance that your body is capable of, the more you begin to think of food as fuel the more you will find the strength to go out there and chase your dreams!!