Post-Workout Nutrition: What Is It and Why Should I Care?

The importance of post-exercise nutrition often gets overlooked. It is easy to think that when the clock runs out after a hard workout that signals the end of the benefits that you will reap from your exercise.  The focus on recovery post-workout will allow for better recovery by decreased soreness, less fatigue and lethargy and an increase in performance in future workouts.

The post-workout window is often thought of as the most important part of nutrient timing. Mainly for the reason that after exercise, a significant portion of stored fuels in your body in the form of glycogen and amino acids, are depleted. Therefore, consuming proper nutrients will allow you to restore your energy reserves and initiate muscle tissue rebuilding.

Post workout carbs are also required to facilitate sodium absorption in the gut after a sweaty workout that leaves you in need to replace electrolytes. Sandra Fowkes Godek, a doctorate in exercise physiology and director of the Heat Illness Evaluation Avoidance and Treatment (HEAT) Institute at West Chester University in Pennsylvania, explains the need for carbohydrates for electrolyte replacement and proper hydration balance “If you drink a special high-sodium beverage to replace electrolytes, it’s essential to pair that drink with carbohydrates. Gatorade’s carbohydrate content is 6 percent—not enough to facilitate sodium absorption. A true sodium-replacement drink is anywhere from 10 or 12 percent carbohydrate. Without a carbohydrate, the majority of the salt you put in your stomach ends up in the toilet within two hours because your body has a protective mechanism against a (mass) of salt”.

Most recovery drinks have low carbohydrates and high sugar content. An ideal recovery drink should have protein with carbohydrates for proper post workout recovery. Combining protein with fast acting easily digested carbohydrates quickly replenishes glycogen levels and acts as a catalyst carrying nutrients that were lost during training.

Need ideas on how to get these post workout carbs? Driven Nutrition offers a great post workout recovery product, “POST WOD” that combines a 1:1 ratio of protein (20 grams) and carbohydrates (20 grams) that can facilitate proper recovery. Other alternatives include protein bars with a good amount of carbohydrates (~20 grams) or a serving of fruit (1 cup of blueberries is ~20 grams of carbohydrates).

Understanding post workout nutrition leads to better recovery and allows you to know what your body needs to achieve to be more effective inside the gym.


  • Top 5 Hydration Myths Busted. Hilary Achauer. The Crossfit Journal, May 5 2017.
  • PostWod, Recovery Salvation just in time for the Open! Sean McQueary. Driven Coaches Newsletter. Feb 22, 2017.
  • American College of Sports Medicine; American Dietetic Association; Dietitians of Canada. (2009). Nutrition and Athletic Performance. Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise, 709-731.
  • Cordain, L., & Friel, J. (2005). The Paleo Diet for Athletes. Emmaus, PA: Rodale Inc.
  • Aragon, A., & Schoenfeld, B. (2013). Nutrient timing revisited: is there a post-exercise anabolic window? Journal of the International Society for Sports Nutrition; 10: 5.

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