What Do You Eat After a Strength Workout?

Eating the right foods after a strength workout improves your muscle gains and fat loss.  

How much do you eat every day? Have you ever journalized what you eat in a day? If not, you may be underestimating your daily caloric intake. Research shows that people will underestimate the amount of calories they eat for various reasons. 

According to the True Results Health Honesty Survey, 46 percent of those surveyed are not honest with family members and 32 percent admit to lying to doctors. True Results is a team of leading weight loss experts based in Texas.

"Lying about your health and fitness, if even only a few times per year, can signify a fundamental issue in your ability to achieve your health goals," said Jessica Diaz, nutritionist and exercise physiologist for True Results. "Numerous studies have shown, the key to achieving any health or fitness goal is support from those around you and that cannot happen if you're not honest with yourself or others."

Its a good idea to journal your eating habits until you have a handle on what, when and how much to eat. Although you don't need to strictly count calories, you need to have a good handle on how many calories you are eating and burning every day. Even if you eat whole, natural foods, you cannot eat as much as you want. You will gain weight if you consistently maintain daily caloric surpluses (eat more calories than you burn).

Those who have succeeded at transforming their bodies from fat to lean have health and fitness practices that they do on most days. It becomes a lifestyle. It really is that simple. You become what you habitually do, whether good or bad. So, you need to establish what works for you to stay lean and keep the weight off. 

What to Eat?  Take Inventory

You will eat what is in your kitchen, good or bad.   So, simply, give yourself the best chance to succeed.  Keep the good and toss out the bad stuff.  That can be incredibly tough to do but you have to start somewhere.

Planning will take the stress of “what to eat” away. 

So, your number one planning tool is your weekly grocery shopping list. 

Toss out the bad foods in your pantry and replace them with the foods on your shopping list, day-by-day and week-by-week.  It becomes like clockwork after a few weeks.   You will find boxed, packaged and processed foods beginning to disappear.

Even though its not rocket science, the food replacement method works.  Just start doing it!

How Much to Eat?

You do need to maintain a caloric deficit on most days to burn fat and lose weight.  And, although you don’t need to strictly count calories, you need to know how much to eat.

This will take you getting to know your body better. 

Learning to eat whole, natural foods will make calorie counting unnecessary over time.

Before I discuss what you should eat before and after a strength workout, its important to remember that you should keep your body in an anabolic state.  If you don’t do this, your pre-and post-workout meals won’t be very effective and you’re defeating your purpose for working out:  muscle gain and fat loss.

What does “anabolic state” mean?  Here are six points to consider:

a. When your body is in an anabolic state, the metabolic processes which build up body tissues, such as muscle growth, are working properly.

b. The catabolic state is just the opposite.  Your body goes into a catabolic state when you don’t eat enough or when you workout hard.  The micro tears in your muscles can’t be avoided during a tough strength workout. 

A post-workout meal containing mainly quickly digesting protein and carbohydrates will minimize the catabolic state and begin the repair and rebuilding process of your muscle tissues.   To get maximum benefits, this meal needs to be 30-45 minutes after your strength workout.  Protein shakes or smoothies are ideal for this purpose.

c. It is also critical to rest and recover between workouts for your body to remain in an anabolic state.  Recovery is just as important as the workouts if you want your muscles to grow and to prevent injuries and general body breakdown.

d. Eat the right way most of the time.  That means including the macronutrients (proteins, carbohydrates, healthy fats) in your diet.  Your body particularly needs fuel from carbohydrates (storage glycogen) during your coming workout.  You should not go long periods without eating.  Eating every 2-3 hours will do the trick.  When your body senses starvation, it begins to feed on itself and your precious muscle mass usually takes the hit.

e. Dietary supplements are also part of the anabolic puzzle.  Multivitamins and krill oil are two examples of supplements that I take. 

f. Drink enough water every day so your body’s metabolic processes will work properly.  Dehydration is big trouble, of course.  Drink about an ounce of water for every pound of your body weight.  So, if you weigh 200 pounds, drink about 100 ounces of water a day.  Foods high in water content count towards your water consumption.

Now, on to what you should eat pre-workout.  Eat 1-2 hours before your strength workout.  I will usually eat about 1 hour before a workout.  Everyone’s body reacts differently to foods, so you decide when to eat.

Your body primarily needs carbohydrates and protein (very little fat) in a pre-workout meal of 250-300 calories.  Here are 5 good examples for a workout lasting one hour or less:

1.      Smoothie with Greek yogurt, chopped peach and sprinkled nuts
2.      All natural peanut butter with banana or apple on whole wheat bread
3.      Ripe banana, 1 scoop of whey protein, 1 Tb of all natural peanut butter
4.      All natural fruit energy bar (not protein bar), no trans fat, low saturated fat
5.      Fat free chocolate milk

About Mark


Mark Dilworth is a Lifestyle and Weight Management Specialist and since 2006 he has owned Your Fitness University, Her Fitness Hut, My Fitness Hut, Sports Fitness Hut.

Mark has helped thousands of clients and readers make lifestyle changes that lead to better long-term health, which includes acceptable body fat and ideal body weight.He does not recommend fad diets, quick weight loss gimmicks, starvation diets, weight loss pills, fat burner supplements and the like.

Popular Posts