The Secret of the Properly Balanced Post-Workout Meal for Fat Loss & Muscle Building

by Mike Geary, Certified Nutrition Specialist, Certified Personal Trainer

healthy post workout smoothieI'm sure you've heard before that your post-workout meal is actually your most important meal of the day (aside from breakfast).

I'd have to agree with that for the most part because refueling your body with the right combination of nutrients is SOOOOO vastly important to repairing your muscles from the breakdown of a workout, and keeping your metabolism sky high.

From the research about post-workout meals :

"A recent 12-week study says that those who failed to consume a post workout meal immediately after their workouts suffered a lower metabolism, loss of fat free mass, and had clear indications of muscle loss - while their counterparts (those who consumed a post workout recovery meal) significantly lost more fat, increased lean muscle, improved their metabolism, and increased dynamic strength."

I've noticed that many people are confused as to what actually makes a good post-workout meal. A couple common questions about post workout meals:

1. Aren't post-workout meals just important for building muscle? Do they matter at all if my goal is fat loss?

2. Is it best to use one of the fancy post-workout drinks or shakes that you see in the magazines or is a whole food meal better? What's the best combination of carbs to protein to fat in a good post workout meal?

3. How quickly after a workout is best to consume my post workout meal?

1. Post-workout meals are important for BOTH muscle building and fat loss!

Always remember that one of the most important aspects of long term fat loss and maintaining a lean body for life is raising your overall metabolic rate by building and maintaining adequate lean muscle mass throughout your body.

By consuming a proper post workout meal after every workout, you assist your body in repairing and building lean muscle throughout your body. The more lean muscle you have, the higher your metabolic rate... hence, you lose fat easier, and it is MUCH easier to stay lean long term.

2. Whole foods or supplement shakes? This can be done either way, but I'm going to show you some guidelines why some post-workout shakes are better than others and some whole foods are better than others. Either way, you can make it work.

First, keep in mind that your goal throughout the majority of each day is eating small whole food meals frequently that digest slowly with high fiber and a controlled glycemic response (blood sugar). These normal daily meals should also contain healthy fats and slowly digested proteins to keep a steady supply of amino acids.

Well, when it comes to post-workout meals, you can almost use the exact opposite strategy of your normal meals. With post-workout meals, you actually want a faster digesting carbohydrate source to elicit an insulin response, which surges nutrients and glycogen back into your muscles for repair.

So while I always preach high fiber for most of your meals, with post-workout, you actually want low fiber, high GI carbs, and quickly digesting proteins as well for muscle repair.

Another aspect to keep in mind... while I always preach healthy fats at most of your meals... with the post workout meal, you actually want almost all carbs and protein, and very little fat if any. Fat just slows the absorption and glycemic response which is not what you want with the post-workout meal.

What about ratios of carbs and protein?

I've reviewed dozens and dozens of studies on this subject and it always seems to come back to a ratio of approximately 2 to 1 carbs to protein (up to possibly 4:1 ratio of carbs to protein). This seems to be the optimal combination to maximize muscle repair to boost that metabolism for long term fat loss.

I usually make my post-workout shakes using a frozen banana, whey protein, water, and some real maple syrup and aim for about a 2:1 ratio of carbs to protein.

If you want to make things simpler, one of the best post-workout shakes that I've found is Prograde's Varsity Post-Workout mix. Check it out at:

3. How quickly should you eat (or drink) your post-workout meal?

As soon as you can after your workout (the sooner the better)!

Studies show that the sooner you consume your post workout meal following your intense workout, the better your muscle recovery will be, and a higher percentage of the carbs ingested will be used for muscle glycogen replenishment instead of other uses.

The first thing I do when I get back from the gym is make my post workout shake, and this is about 10 min after finishing my workout.

Make sure to check out some of the other research about post-workout recovery meals at:

Alright, I'll be back soon with more Lean-Body Secrets. Til then...

Don't be lazy... Be lean!

Mike Geary
Certified Nutrition Specialist
Certified Personal Trainer
Founder - & busy man fitness .com

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