Some people say you need to chug a protein shake immediately after every training session. Others say you need carbs and fat too. Which camp is correct? Let’s find out!
First Things First: Do You Even Need a Post-Workout Meal?
Here’s the thing: there is no definitive study that says you do. There are just too many variables at play here to make a recommendation that would apply to everybody. Below are some examples:
- The intensity and type of your workout
- Your level of fullness before training
- Your body fat levels
So, as a general rule, if you’re not hungry after your workout, then it’s okay to not eat or have a protein shake immediately. But if you are, then go have something with all three macronutrients—just like you should any other time of the day.
Calorie Management is More Important Than Meal Timing
Instead of worrying too much about the when, focus on the what and how much.
If you want to get bigger and stronger, for instance, consume slightly more calories than you burn. If you want to lose fat, do the opposite. If you want to just maintain your physique, then keep them even.
As for the what, just make sure your diet consists mostly of foods packed with the nutrients—both macro and micro—your body needs to function at peak capacity, and you’ll be just fine.
What You Should Be Eating Throughout the Day
Instead of giving you specific meals, I’ll just list down types of foods under each macronutrient so you can mix and match depending on your personal preferences:
- Sweet potatoes/potatoes
- Your favourite fruits
- Your favourite vegetables
- Healthy oils like canola and extra-virgin coconut
The Bottom Line: Just Eat When You are Hungry
You don’t have to force yourself to chug a glass of protein shake or devour a plate of steamed chicken breast after working out unless you’re actually hungry. If you want to progress faster, focus instead on managing the quantity and quality of the food you eat throughout the day.