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

Affiliate Disclosure

Articles

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:

Get The Low Carb Athlete - 100% Free!Eliminate fatigue and unlock the secrets of low-carb success. Sign up now for instant access to the book!

A) Haven’t had anything to eat before your workout and you’re in a total 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.

Ask Ben a Podcast Question


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

  1. Matt says:

    Hi Ben,

    I only work out once a week (lifting) just to keep things moving and not get the ol beer belly.

    I am usually empty stomach since waking up, do the workout at lunch, and finally eat at dinner.

    My thinking is that I have enough nutrients stored up from the past week that my body should be able to burn since I am not constantly beating down my body with frequent workouts.

    I don’t feel light headed and I make sure to stay well-hydrated. Is there any danger or research on this kind of low frequency, hoping to use the body’s stores of energy strategy?

    1. Eating once a day is fine, just as long as you're getting enough calories with that one meal.

  2. Marc says:

    Hi Ben, I do intermittent fasting from 8pm to 12nn. I usually just have one big meal by noon and some snacks here and there. My usual workout time is 8pm onwards so I consume my whey protein before workout (before starting my IF) and don’t consume anything after. Is this a sustainable practice? I am also doing this while maintaining a low carb diet.

    1. Hi Marc, I would need to gather much more information about you and your exercise/diet habits via a one-on-one consult: https://BenGreenfieldFitness.com/coaching You could also get advice on this sort of thing in the Kion Community: https://Facebook.com/groups/GetKion

  3. Ana says:

    Hi Ben! My question is related to working out and faster (time restricted eating). My eating window is from 11 am to 7 pm, and I workout at 5;30 am (HIIT and X3 protocol). Is my eating window starting too late? I want to avoid aminos to stay on a fasted state, but do you think I should be eating breakfast ? Does the benefit of excise followed by a meal outweights TRE? Dinner at 6 pm is our family time so I cannot get away with moving that.

    1. For questions like this where I need to gather much more information about you and your exercise/diet habits, I recommend going over this in a one-on-one consult: https://BenGreenfieldFitness.com/coaching You could also get advice in the Kion Community: https://Facebook.com/groups/GetKion

  4. Nowlin says:

    Hey Ben,

    Have a question for you. I’m planning on hiking 20 miles on Sunday. What do you think of doing a 24 hour fast from Friday dinner to Saturday dinner? Is Saturday’s dinner enough to replenish before a long hike like that?

    What if I were to hike 20 miles Friday? Would it be unwise to do a 24 hour fast starting post-hike that Friday dinner to Saturday’s dinner after a long hike like that?

    Nowlin

    1. Have you done a fasted endurance event before? If not, start with fewer miles and see how it goes. Listen to your body!

      1. Nowlin says:

        I have not! Great advice, thank you. Decided to fast today and do 8 miles this evening.

        Keep on keeping on, love your work.

        NJ

  5. meghan says:

    I had a question for you regarding nutrition and post workout protein consumption.

    I eat two meals a day with breakfast being very large and hefty. I eat around 8am when I wake up and I’ll have a bowl of oatmeal, a banana, 2 spoonfuls almond butter as well as eggs with avocado and nutritional yeast.. SO… HUGE haha.

    Since breakfast is my biggest meal of the day, I am typically full until around 4pm and am dont get hungry at all until around 4ish where Ill have a small snack (vegetables) and then dinner around 6. I guess this is kind of along the lines of intermittent fasting??

    Anyway, I was wondering if Im doing myself harm by not eating protein after I work out? OR does my body use the protein I consumed the couple hours before for breakfast to rebuild muscle? Or is that of no use..? I dont want to force myself to have protein if Im still SO full from earlier..

    Also, Im not working out that hard because of knee injury (45 min of elliptical, band work, machine weight exercises). So is protein really necessary after? But I do want to grow muscle.

    Is what Im doing fine or do you think I should change it up so that my muscles have protein after?

    1. Not necessarily, but you never mentioned when you were working out. I would re-read the above article :) Your answer is there.

  6. Liv says:

    Do you have to eat after a workout?

  7. Nour says:

    Hey Ben,

    I participate in intermittent fasting (5-hour window). I workout about 2 hours after my last meal. I do not eat after my workouts, I usually aim for 5 days of resistance training (15-20 mins of cardio each) with light cardio on the 6th day and 1 rest day.
    am I jeopardizing my fitness goals by not “replenishing” my body after a workout, especially when I am training a large muscle group?
    The aim is to lose fat but keep the muscle mass.

    Thank you!

  8. April says:

    i tend to workout after work,which is the hours around 5:30 to 7:30 and workout for roughly around 20-4o mins….i eat a late lunch…….my question is ,do i have to eat after my workout which probably ends around 8:30 0r 9 pm?

    1. April, you don't need to, but that also depends on the intensity of your workout and what you've eaten throughout the day.

  9. Bill says:

    Ben, I love your site. My question is…if I workout at 4:30 for an hour and my last meal before that is at 2:30, should I still wait the two hours after I finish? I feel like two hours is not considered “fasted” at this point, but is not close enough to be considered a pre-workout meal…

    1. Yep, I'd still wait a couple hours if I were you. That's what I do. But you can use aminos in this case, like this: https://getkion.com/shop/body/kion-aminos/

  10. Wonderful website. A lot of useful info here. I am sending it to a few pals ans

    additionally sharing in delicious. And of course,

    thanks for your sweat!

  11. Dana says:

    I always go run for an hour in the morning with empty stomach

    Is it ok if i eat after running directly ?

    1. Yep – fasted exercise is good for you and yes you can have breakfast afterwards.

  12. Bless says:

    I exercise 3 hours after I wake up then eat 30minutes later. I also exercise 3hours after supper, then go to bed maybe close to 2hours later. Is this okay for a person who wants to lose weight?

    1. Yes that's fine – but I would check this out if I were you: https://bengreenfieldfitness.com/2015/09/how-to-l…

  13. Scott says:

    Got it! Thanks!!

  14. Scott says:

    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?

    1. Carb backload, baby! Save the carbs until that post evening workout, period. Even if dinner came before that workout.

  15. Scott says:

    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="https://greenfieldfitnesssystems.com/ben” target=”_blank”>www.greenfieldfitnesssystems.com/ben and choose 20 or 60 minutes and we'll get you scheduled.

  16. Scott says:

    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)?

  17. Scott says:

    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)?

    1. Scott, have you read this? https://bengreenfieldfitness.com/2013/07/what-to-… – start there and let me know if you have any questions.

  18. 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

    1. Only if that workout is glycolytically demanding/anaerobic. Fueling strategy would be any of the options here: https://bengreenfieldfitness.com/2013/07/easy-mea…

  19. Laura Roberts says:

    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!

    1. You can find them in the article: “Putting the Pre & Post Workout Nutrition Debate Into The Grave” http://www.rockstartriathlete.com/putting-the-pre… and also listen to in Podcast Episode #73 of David Warden’s Tri-Talk http://traffic.libsyn.com/tritalk/tri_talk_73.mp3

  20. bob says:

    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

    1. I would suggest either eating something beforehand or finding a way to eat something within the first hour. Read the article, all the info you need is in there.

  21. iswinar says:

    What if I want to gain muscle and lose fat at the same time?

  22. Verda says:

    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.

    1. I suspect this may have to do with either A) hypoglycemic response to oatmeal. Go for something more like the high fat smoothie on this page https://bengreenfieldfitness.com/2013/07/easy-… ; B) BAD protein powder…I'd check this out: https://greenfieldfitnesssystems.com/product/vega…

  23. Dan Juric says:

    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.

  24. Derek says:

    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.

    1. Research evolves and I am constantly learning. What I have just said is what to do.

      1. Kristin says:

        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.

  25. feerlessfood says:

    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. feerlessfood says:

        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 FeerickChuckfeerick@gmail.com703-626-9389Cfeeric@Amerigroupcorp.com Www.feerlessfood.com

        1. I suppose if you want to carry that with you for the whole ride.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *