News Alert: You *Don’t* Need To Eat Within 60 Minutes After A Workout.

Blender on Bike

Blender on Bike

The following post-workout nutrition lesson is just one of the 20 fueling myths that I dispel in my upcoming title from Endurance Planet entitled: “Endurance Planet’s Guide To Sports Nutrition with Ben Greenfield: “20 Fueling Myths Exposed”. Look for that book to be released in 3 weeks.

It’s likely that you’ve seen somewhere the legend of a mystical, magical fueling window. From exercise books, magazine articles and websites to nearly every resource that exists on sports nutrition, you’ll commonly read that “after you finish a workout, you have 20-60 minutes to replace precious energy by consuming a mix carbohydrates and proteins”.

Here’s what they don’t tell you:

In every study or experiment that has investigated the benefit of immediate post-workout nutrition replacement, subjects were fed after completing an exercise session that they had performed in a fasted or semi-starves state.

In other words, of course you’re going to benefit if you eat a meal after a workout in which you were completely depleted of energy! But how many of us actually roll out of bed in the morning, hop on a bicycle, and ride hard for 90 minutes to 2 hours with absolutely no fuel? In most cases, this would unpleasant, difficult and not a standard workout protocol.

So here’s the deal: if you’ve actually had a pre-workout meal, or any other recent meal, there’s no crucial, do-or-die need to eat after your workout – especially if you’re still “burping up” that bar you ate before your exercise session. This is especially true if you have no other workouts planned for the day, since your body is able to totally replenish energy levels within 8 hours of normal hunger-driven eating.

But it does make sense to fuel within that 20-60 minute window if you:

A) Haven’t had anything to eat before your workout and you’re in a totally energy depleted state (such as an early morning hard session before breakfast) and/or

B) You’re going to be working out again within the next 8 hours.

In such a case, grab a 3:1 ratio of carbs to protein, such as a banana smoothie with a handful of nuts and scoop of protein powder, and you’ll  be set (and yes, that’s another myth that adding a fat like nuts to your post-workout meal is going to slow down uptake of carbs or protein).

If you really want to geek out on the nitty-gritty, scientific details of this post-workout nutrition discussion, then you should check out the free Rock Star Triathlete Academy article “Putting the Pre & Post Workout Nutrition Debate Into The Grave” and also listen to in Podcast Episode #73 of David Warden’s Tri-Talk

Questions or comments? Leave them below.


9 thoughts on “News Alert: You *Don’t* Need To Eat Within 60 Minutes After A Workout.

  1. Ben, great points here and I trust your research and science without a doubt. However, after smashing a workout of like 10 tempo miles running and a high intensity spin workout, or any workout for that matter, there's nothing WRONG with eating after a workout is there? Granted, if you eat immediately before a workout, then do a not-to-intense workout, you don't need to eat. But if its been a couple hours then you workout for a couple hours, you should be eating something at least?

    1. No there's no harm in eating after a workout like that. But if you're mixing up sports drinks and sugary protein laden beverages for magical postworkout fuel after a 45 minute lunchtime lift, you are simply fueling without need, and dumping oodles of unnecessary, acidic, nutrient-void sugar down the hatch.

      1. I completely agree. Similarly, can you “start” the recovery process of a hard workout During a workout- like having a drink with some carbs and (moderate) protein during the last hour of a long ride?Thanks ben- congrats again on Kona man, that's really admirable–Chuck [email protected][email protected]

      1. What is the latest research from? Is this from a journal article? Or another professional publication? I really wish that it would become mainstream for people to post their references. Nothing against you personally, love your stuff and I am a fellow Vandal, but there is so much, what I call "soap box science" out there…

        1. Where did I say "latest research"? Read carefully. Just go look at *every* research study out there that's been done on sports nutrition or post workout nutrition. They're done in fasted subjects.

  2. Good stuff Ben. I got fired from a Gym because I wouldn't push their smoothies on my athletes after a 45 min. spin class. Would these nutritional recovery ideas change if you were doing higher intensity workouts. Say LT intervals or hill repeats.

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