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Should I be eating high-carb or high-fat post-workout?

Updated: Dec 18, 2023

I often find that people think a lot about what they eat before a workout but perhaps not so much after which is why I loved it when one of my girls sent me this question in the week.

During a workout we actually make ourselves weaker by damaging muscle fibres and when we recover post-workout with nutrition, that is where we improve and get stronger – another reason why this is a really great question to ask and to learn from. People working out but neglecting their nutrition are missing out on SO much for that reason.

Let’s chat a little then about what happens when we exercise. When you’re working out, your muscles use up what is called glycogen.

Glycogen is the body’s preferred fuel source especially during high- intensity workouts – we get glycogen primarily from carbohydrates.

So, training often results in your muscles being partially depleted of said glycogen.

Some of the proteins in your muscles can also be broken down and damaged.

After your workout, your body tries to rebuild its glycogen stores as well as repair and regrow those muscle proteins through recovery protocols and, of course nutrition. This is one of the reasons it is especially important to eat carbs and protein after your workout.

Doing this helps your body:

  • decrease muscle protein breakdown

  • increase muscle protein synthesis (growth)

  • restore glycogen stores

In turn, this will all enhance the recovery process.

All of the macronutrients – proteins, carbs and fats are involved in your body’s post-workout recovery process, for this reason, it is important that we achieve the right combination.

Many people claim that eating fat after a workout slows down digestion and inhibits the absorption of nutrients. While fat might slow down the absorption of your post-workout meal, it will not reduce its benefits, it will simply take longer for the body to process.

However, many find that pre-workout, due to it often being slightly more difficult for the body to digest, that fat doesn’t agree with them in a pre-workout meal. This is often why if I have someone doing an event, besides the benefits of consumption of protein and carbs pre-workout, I suggest maybe limiting the fat-content of their pre-workout meal.

It’s isn’t all bad though, it has been shown in research that whole milk has been more effective at promoting muscle growth after a workout than skimmed milk although, to me, that could potentially be due to the increased energy intake there rather than the fat.

Some fat in your post-workout meal will not affect your recovery as some may suggest.

Helpful?! Let me know.

What’s your favourite post-workout feed?

Peace and love, A x

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