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The Window For Gains – Post Workout Nutrition

There are two simple principles when it comes to building muscle…

You must OVERLOAD and FEED them appropriately in order for them to grow. 

It’s great to put in the work at the gym, but you won’t see those benefits if you don’t refuel properly. Here is exactly what you should do after your workout to get maximum gains. 🙂

Known as nutrient timing, some of the current literature indicates that what you eat before, during, and after your workouts is extremely important to maximize your results. Whether you’re trying to lose weight, build muscle, or train for a specific sport you need to feed your body the right things, in the right amounts, at the right time.

What you eat BEFORE prepares your body for your workout (we’re not looking for performance during your fasted morning workouts, so don’t worry about that), what you eat DURING (if appropriate) enhances the session itself, and what you take in AFTER maximizes the work completed while preparing your body for the next session.

The longer you wait to refuel, the less efficient the body becomes at putting these nutrients to work. Hence the “window” metaphor…

You have an optimal window of time to take in carbohydrates and protein after each workout.

While taking advantage of the metabolic window is important regardless of your fitness goals, nutrient timing is key to building quality muscle mass. You must consume quality carbohydrates (veggies and the right type of starches) to refuel your glycogen stores in preparation for your next workout while taking in protein to help repair and rebuild your muscles. For muscle building, taking in post-workout protein is essential. The amino acids in protein are the building blocks of muscle, and true growth cannot occur without them.

An example of a quality post-workout recovery meal (one that is designed to foster fat loss) is simply an SFH Protein shake with a small piece of fruit. Ultimately though, the amount of carbohydrates and protein you refuel with during your post-workout is dependent on a wide variety of factors, including…

  • The specific workout itself (Duration and modality can differ your need)
  • Your body weight (Physical size and current muscle mass will influence caloric needs)
  • Training schedule (The frequency of your workouts should be considered)
  • Your goals (Carbohydrate consumption differs for weight gain & weight loss)

But there is one constant… Consuming 20-40 grams of protein within the metabolic window will reap huge rewards for most.

In life and in fitness, consistency is the number one secret to success. You can’t work out once in a while and expect to see real results and the same holds true when it comes to your post-workout nutrition!

It’s consistency over time that will bring about major changes. Feed your muscles what they need after every workout within the metabolic window, and you will be amazed at the body you’ll achieve.


Riley Phelps, MS CSCS