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What to eat after you exercise

October 17th, 2012 | no comments

Last week you learned how to fuel your body before exercise. This week is all about post-exercise nutrition—which is just as important because your body needs proper nutrients for repair and recovery.

Timing of post-exercise meal

The best time to fuel your body after your workout is within 30 minutes to two hours. The sooner the better!


Your exercised muscles require protein for growth and repair, so you will want to shoot for about 10-20 grams of protein in your post-exercise meal or snack. More isn’t better…so don’t go getting the crazy idea that if you chow down on a side of beef, you’ll look like Arnold Schwarzenegger in the Terminator!


For moderate exercise, you’ll need about 30-40 grams of carbohydrate after you exercise. If you’ve just participated in high intensity exercise, aim for 50-60 grams of carbohydrate for each hour exercised.

What about fluids?

To stay well hydrated for exercise, the American College of Sports Medicine recommends that you drink:

  • About 2 to 3 cups of water during the two to three hours before your workout.
  • About 1/2 to 1 cup of water every 15 to 20 minutes during your workout. You may require more in warmer weather.
  • Roughly 2 to 3 cups of water after your workout for every pound of weight you lose during the workout.

Water is generally the best way to replace lost fluids. But if you’re exercising for more than 60 minutes, use coconut water or a sports drink. Both can help maintain your body’s electrolyte balance and give you a bit more energy because they contain carbohydrates.

12 nutritious, post-exercise meals and snacks:

  • English muffin with natural peanut butter
  • Chocolate milk
  • Homemade trail mix: raisins, dry cereal and almonds
  • 1% cottage cheese with fruit
  • Greek yogurt with fruit
  • Egg white veggie omelet with toast
  • Cereal with milk
  • Turkey sandwich
  • Crackers with cheese
  • Rice or popcorn cakes with nut butter
  • Fruit smoothie with milk and protein powder
  • A protein or energy bar

The Bottom Line: Nutrition and hydration are both super important, but the most important thing is to just get moving! Mom, I know you hate that I use you as an example for my thousands of subscribers to learn from…but if you’d just cut the excuses and hop on that treadmill in the basement (in front of the television, next to the new home gym that dad bought for the both of you to use), I’d be forced to find someone else to pick on…like my sister and Godmother!

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