The Window of Opportunity for Post-Workout Nutrition

Jenna Braddock
by Jenna Braddock
Share it:
The Window of Opportunity for Post-Workout Nutrition

After you work out, there’s a certain amount of time in which you are able to replenish the calories burned as a way to boost recovery. Find out the ideal way to do this and why it matters.

When it comes to post-workout nutrition, the window of opportunity is the time immediately following exercise when your body is extra-responsive to nutrition. Think of it as your muscles being like a sponge, quickly absorbing nutrients needed to rebuild and repair. Research indicates that this response occurs in the 30-45 minutes following exercise and can last up to 2 hours.

Exercise activates several factors that promote this “sponge-like” response:

  • It triggers activation of the enzyme that stimulates the production of glycogen, the stored form of glucose that is used during intense exercise. While glycogen can be formed and stored long after exercise, it happens most quickly during this initial period of time. This is important for loading muscles and the liver with stored energy for future workouts.
  • Muscle membranes become more permeable, allowing needed nutrients to flow into them more easily.
  • Body cells become more sensitive to insulin, the key that unlocks the door to allow glucose to enter. 

There are two main reasons why recovery nutrition is important. First, it replaces energy and nutrients needed to maintain performance levels during subsequent workouts. Second, it provides nutritional building blocks required to repair and build body tissue after your most recent workout.

WHO NEEDS RECOVERY NUTRITION?

The window of opportunity is most important for athletes who train at a vigorous level, including endurance athletes. Others who can benefit include those who exercise hard for at least an hour or more, those looking to improve their body composition through challenging resistance training and anyone having a difficult time keeping their weight up while exercising. Some research also suggests that older adults may benefit from post-workout nutrition to help maintain lean muscle tissue.

Those who exercise at a low-to-moderate level of intensity and/or for less than an hour may not benefit from immediate post-exercise fuel. It’s important to weigh the pros and cons of total calories consumed versus the impact on recovery.

WHAT SHOULD I EAT AFTER A WORKOUT?

Research has shown pairing carbohydrates and protein is the winning ticket if you want to maximize the benefits of nutrition. Carbohydrates help replace energy and accelerate protein synthesis in the muscle, while protein provides amino acids to repair and rebuild tissue throughout the body.

You can consume carbohydrates and protein together in a variety of ways. Whole foods are always a great choice, but supplements are convenient. If you use supplements regularly, mix in whole foods as often as possible to offer your body a wide array of nutrients.

What that can look like:

  • 2 cups low-fat chocolate milk
  • 1 cup Greek yogurt with a serving of crackers
  • Nutrition bar containing both carbs and protein
  • Smoothie with fruit and source of protein
  • Small meat and cheese sandwich
  • 1/2 cup cottage cheese with 1 cup fruit
  • 3 ounces lox (smoked salmon) on 1/2 bagel

As a general rule, try 1–1.2 g carbohydrates per kilogram of body weight, starting with 15–25 g of protein.

About the Author

Jenna Braddock
Jenna Braddock

Jenna is a registered dietitian nutritionist and certified specialist in sports nutrition. She is a mom to two little boys and wife to a football coach. She shares real-life strategies for better health and doable, delicious recipes on her site Make Healthy Easy. She is active on Twitter, Instagram, Facebook and Pinterest

Related

9 responses to “The Window of Opportunity for Post-Workout Nutrition”

  1. Avatar Dave Gee says:

    Also worth considering if ‘the window’ is really that important – I believe some appropriate pre-workout nutrition can mean it’s not worthy of concern. (Though appreciate not everyone wants to eat prior to a workout.)

    • Avatar fmrleftchick says:

      It’s depends mostly on the intensity, and the length of the workout. Given a person is regularly eating a healthy and proper balance of macros, it is relatively safe to assume they have enough glucose/glycogen stores to fuel a moderate workout on an empty stomach.

      If however engaging in heavy lifting or intense cardio for any significant amount of time, it is highly advisable to load both protein and carbs pre-workout. This will fuel those brutal last reps that build muscle or allow for lengthier runs. Additionally, it will help prevent the body from utilizing amino acids (protein/muscle tissue) for fuel when blood sugar is depleted.

      It’s fine to eat before mild/moderate exercise as well just so long as one stays within their daily caloric limit. A good rule of thumb is 0.25 grams both protein and carbs per pound of body-weight about 1 hour before, and again immediately after finished.

  2. Avatar trimble.robin says:

    I profited 104000 dollars in last twelve months by working from my home a­­n­­d I was able to do it by w­orking in my own time f­­o­­r 3 or sometimes more hours a day. I was following a business opportunity I found on-line and I am excited that i was able to make so much extra income. It’s very beginner friendly a­­n­­d I am just so thankful that i discovered it. Check out what I do… http://gee­.­su/Vym1k

  3. Avatar james.martinez.90@mail.ru says:

    I’ve made 104 thousand bucks in last 12 months by doing an on-line job a­­n­­d I was able to do it by w­o­r­k­i­n­g part time f­o­r 3 or sometimes more h /daily. I used an earning opportunity I found online and I am so amazed that i earned so much money. It’s beginner-friendly and I’m just so grateful that i found it. Here’s what I do… http://www.wzurl­.­me/tEXzrw

  4. Avatar william.hardwick@mail.ru says:

    I’ve profited $104k previous year by freelancing online a­­n­­d I did it by w­o­r­k­i­n­g in my own time for 3 or sometimes more hours /daily. I followed an earning opportunity I was introduced by this web-site i found online and I am happy that I was able to earn so much money on the side. It’s user friendly a­­n­­d I’m so happy that i found it. Here’s what I did… http://www.wzurl­.­me/UhyySA

  5. Avatar amy.mercado says:

    I was without work for six months time when my former Co-worker ultimately recommended me to get into freelancing at home… It was only just after I gained $5000 in my initial 30 days when I seriously believed I could do this for a living! Nowadays I am joyful than ever… I work from home moreover I am my own boss now like I always wanted… I see several depressed people around me, working the same old boring job that’s sucking the life from them day by day… Everytime I notice any person like that I say START FREELANCING MAN! This is how I started >>>> http://working92­.­weebly­.­com

  6. Avatar christine.mccroy says:

    I was paid 104000 dollars past 12 months by doing an internet job and I was able to do it by w­orking in my own time f­o­r quite a few hours everyday. I applied job opportunity I found on the net and also I am thrilled that I was capable to make such great money. It is really newbie-friendly and I am so blessed that I discovered out regarding it. Go and visit what I do… http://nubr­.­co/6Hg1oz

  7. Avatar Tyler King says:

    I was paid 104000 bucks previous year by doing an internet job furthermore I was able to do it by w­orking in my own time f­o­r quite a few hours on a daily basis. I utilized work opportunity I stumbled upon on the web and therefore I am thrilled that I was capable to earn such great money. It’s genuinely newbie-friendly and therefore I’m so delighted that I discovered out regarding it. Read through exactly what I do… http://s­.­id/1cn

  8. Avatar Sagor ahmed says:

    Some foods are increase fat. After work-out if I eat some fatty foods then what the reason to workout? Do you have some recommendation about fat burning foods? Do you think its really works?

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Never Miss a Post!

Turn on MyFitnessPal desktop notifications and stay up to date on the latest health and fitness advice.

Great!

Click the 'Allow' Button Above

Awesome!

You're all set.