Does Post-Workout Nutrition Even Matter?

Sorry brah...."bulking" with Doritos is just called laziness.

Sorry brah...."bulking" with Doritos is just called laziness.

One of the best parts of my job are the amount of questions I receive from my clients.  While there are stupid questions (e.g. "Is this, like, Crossfit!?" Answer: No!), I absolutely love when people want to find out what's inside my head.  In fact, I consider it a great compliment.  

On that train of thought, I tend to get a fair amount of nutrition related questions, being of course, that I'm also a nutrition coach.  Today I'd like to expand on one of the questions I hear quite often:

"What should I eat after a workout?"

Being the loud and boisterous individual that I am (ok, I'm chuckling at even suggesting that), I always have the same controversial response:

"It depends."

Many of us have heard that you're supposed to eat protein after you train.  But, how much protein?  And, what about that 30 minute metabolic window?  What about carbs? What about the broscience!?

Well, before we even hop on the protein/carb/post-workout train, we have to think about a few other details.

First, where are you starting from?

Many of us like to think we eat pretty well, but our waistlines may beg to differ.  If your idea of "healthy" is pizza with broccoli, a diet soda, and organic, gluten-free jelly beans as a chaser....that post-workout protein shake is most likely putting whipped cream on poop.

That said, work on cleaning up your overall diet is going to do more for your health and any potential gains than anything you may consume after your workout.  Failing to do so is what I like to call "majoring in the minor," which is akin to sweeping up a wet floor....when it's the ceiling that's leaking.

Second, what is your goal?

Here we can get a bit down to specifics.  Most people can either be classified as wanting to gain mass/weight, or wanting to lose it.  From there, we can go one of two paths.

Want to lose weight?  You need to eat:

  • Fruits and Vegetables
  • Minimally processed grains
  • Lean protein sources, such as chicken, beef, pork, fish, etc.

Want to bulk up and gain weight?  Then, you need to eat:

  • More Fruits and Vegetables
  • More minimally processed grains
  • More lean protein sources, such as chicken, beef, pork, fish, etc.

Once your diet is in line with those two guidelines, then it's time to get a bit more specific.  But, for the 99% of us, the game remains the same even after a workout: "eat real food, mostly plants, and not too much."