What Should You East After A Workout?  

Our Ottawa physiotherapy, chiropractic and sports medicine clinics help clients who are professional athletes, and many more who work out as part of a healthy lifestyle. Many of them have questions about what to eat to help promote optimal performance when they exercise or enjoy their favourite sport.

This guide is a look at what you should be eating after a good workout – and when.

The Three Rs of Post-Workout Nutrition

After-workout nutrition becomes easy to improvise if you keep the three Rs in mind:

  • Refuel: you’ll need to give your body the nutrients you used as fuel for your workout or sport;
  • Repair: your body needs extra material to repair the muscles and other tissues that are damaged via exertion;
  • Rehydrate: your body draws from its own store of moisture as you exercise, and it’s important to regain proper hydration levels.


  • That’s a good question. The experts say it’s important to eat within 45 minutes of exercising.

Your Ottawa physiotherapist or other sports medicine specialist can provide advice on your individual needs when it comes to nutrition and working out, based on your condition and lifestyle.

Refuel with Carbohydrates

Carbs are your post-workout friend. Your body breaks down the carbs you eat into a compound called glycogen.

  • Glycogen is stored inside your muscles;
  • As you work out, your body uses it up as its first choice of fuel.

The harder and/or longer you play or work out, the more glycogen you’ll use up, and that’s especially true of endurance sports. You’ll kick start the body’s repair cycle by eating carbs after you exercise.

Easy options include:

  • Whole fruits;
  • Rolled oats;
  • Whole grain breads and crackers;
  • Whole grain rice;
  • Potatoes.

Repair & Build Muscle Tissue With Protein

As you work out, exercise or play sports, your muscles eventually begin a process of breaking down. It sounds alarming, but it’s natural, and part of the muscle building process. Your post-workout menu needs to include the material your body needs to repair and rebuild – stronger than ever.

  • The amino acids in protein are an essential component of muscle tissue;
  • The protein you eat ends the breakdown process, along with starting tissue repair – the protein synthesis process is how your muscles build back bigger;
  • It helps to solidify your gains in muscle mass, and it’s very important for anyone involved in strength and resistance training.

The general rule of thumb is to consume 15 to 25 grams of protein for a typical workout, up to 40 grams for more intense or longer periods of exercise.

Easy ideas:

  • Eggs;
  • Yogourt, especially protein-rich Greek yogourt;
  • Cottage cheese and other lean dairy;
  • Nuts and seeds;
  • Meat, poultry & seafood.

Rehydrate with Fluids

Your body warms up – literally – as you exercise, and it produces perspiration as a result. That process draws on your body’s usual reserves of moisture.

Drink at least a cup of fluid after a workout, and if you want to be precise, you can weigh yourself before and after your workout.

  • Drink 16 ounces for each pound that you’ve lost.

Easy options include:

  • Water – filtered is best;
  • Electrolyte-replenishing drinks;
  • Whole fruits and veggies with a high water content.

Some Quick Snack Ideas

If you want to get that first meal in quickly after exercising for the most benefit, then it makes sense to try and combine two or all three of the nutritional components your body needs into one easy snack. Here are some healthy ideas:

  • Granola with whole grain oats, berries and Greek yogourt;
  • Avocado with apple on whole grain toast;
  • Peanut or other nut butters on rice cakes;
  • Cheese with whole grain crackers;
  • An omelette with cheese, veggies, or lean meats;
  • Boiled or poached eggs on toast with kale;
  • Whole grain toast with apples and peanut butter
  • A whole grain sandwich with lean meat or tuna, apple slices and kale;
  • Hummus and pita;
  • Cottage cheese with nuts and fruit.

A quicker, easier recovery for your body means optimal muscle building too. If you have any questions about nutrition and exercise, don’t hesitate to contact one of our Ottawa physiotherapy, chiropractic, and sports medicine clinics for a consultation today.



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