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

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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.

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29 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]@Amerigroupcorp.com Www.feerlessfood.com

      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.

  3. I want to know if you didn’t eat anything in the morning before a workout and then you had a moderate workout, even if you’re starving, will you NOT benefit as much or AT ALL from a workout if you don’t eat until more than an hour after a workout?

    1. The answer is right there in the post…
      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.

  4. Hi,

    I experienced something weird this morning after my workout and googled my state and found your article amongst many to help. This is indeed a great article. Just want your opinion on this experience of mine.

    So i woke up, after having a clove of garlic with warm lemon water, i started my workout. It was a 30 minutes session in which i had some strength exercises involved for core, some lunges and squats. I skipped a rope for 5 minutes to finish it off.

    After 15 minutes, i had my oatmeal with a teaspoon of protein powder. And i have been feeling lethargic and sleepy since then. I was actually feeling sleepy while having my oatmeal.

    What do you think went wrong here???? What do i need to stop doing? Thanks! Awaiting your reply.

  5. i workout in the morning in empty stomach for 1 hr….is it to eat post workout meal after 2 hrs of workout…because my gym is far away from home ..and to get home it take 30 min …and i bath after workout…so it takes time ..so is it ok to eat after 2 hrs

  6. Could you please post a link (or two) to the peer-reviewed journals where these results were published? I get very science geeky about this. Many thanks!

  7. Does the need to refuel for an upcoming workout in the next 8 hours change if you’re in ketosis?

    And what fueling strategies would you utilise (for post-nutrition) when ketotic?

    If you want me to be more specific – high intensity intermittent team sport, not fasted

  8. Hi Ben, thank you for sharing your insights! If as a result of family & work commitments, my only opportunity to run occurs at 9 pm (after a 7 pm dinner), what (if anything) would you suggest I eat between my 9 pm run and 11 pm or 12 am bedtime? Would you offer different advice if my 9 pm workout involves strength training or HIT (rather than an endurance activity)?

  9. Hi Ben, thank you for sharing your insights! If as a result of family & work commitments, my only opportunity to run occurs at 9 pm (after a 7 pm dinner), what (if anything) would you suggest I eat between my 9 pm run and bedtime (between 11 pm and 12 am)? Would you offer different advice if my 9 pm workout involves strength training or HIT (rather than an endurance activity)?

  10. Thanks Ben, very helpful! In terms of planning my nutrition, if I am trying to improve health and maintain weight, given the proximity of my 9 pm workout time to my 11 pm or 12 am bedtime, after my workout, would you suggest consuming carbs (to replenish glycogen stores), protein (to increase rate of protein synthesis) or nothing at all (i.e. eat 7 pm, workout 9 pm, sleep 11 pm or 12 pm, eat 6:30 am). Love your podcasts! Thanks.

    1. If you're working out at 9 PM you should have dinner all done with by around seven or 8 PM and then after your workout just do some amino acids with a small amount of carbohydrate, like a small sweet potato or a small piece of raw fruit. But if you want to get into the nitty gritty detail, book a consult at <a href="http://www.greenfieldfitnesssystems.com/ben” target=”_blank”>www.greenfieldfitnesssystems.com/ben and choose 20 or 60 minutes and we'll get you scheduled.

  11. I guess my question is, assuming I take in enough calories and balance macronutrients correctly each day, if my late evening workout occurs a mere two or three hours before bedtime, would you recommend distributing primarily carb or protein or fat consumption just before bed? Would it be better to fast eight or so hours (until breakfast) instead?

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