VIDEO: Post Workout Nutrition for Training Over Two Hours

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By adequately fueling with protein and carbohydrates within 30-minutes post workout, consecutive workouts will be more successful.

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By Marni Rakes, MS, ISSN 
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After a long workout it is time for the body to recover. Nutrition immediately after training will aid in recovery of muscles and the replenishment of glycogen. By adequately fueling with protein and carbohydrates within 30-minutes post workout, consecutive workouts will be more successful.


The meal post-workout should be high in carbohydrate, easy to digest and moderate on the glycemic index. With an emphasis on liquid protein prior to the carbohydrate meal, you will encourage an efficient delivery of carbohydrates without a dramatic change in blood sugar.


These guidelines assume that the athlete does their long workouts in the morning. If your long workout is later in the day, the guidelines will still apply, just adjust the breakfast principles to lunch or dinner.

Depending on the intensity and duration of the workout, total calories before training will differ among athletes.


Post-training guidelines:

  • Drink protein immediately after– Recover and repair quickly. Liquid protein w/ in 30 minutes post exercise. Prevents overeating at your subsequent meal.
    Examples: Whey protein, skim/soy milk, yogurt.

  • Include protein with post-workout meal. - Prevents surge in blood sugar when eating carbohydrates. Additional repair of damaged tissues and provides slow digestion.
    Examples: Lean/veggie meat, beans, tofu, cottage cheese, yogurt, egg whites, nuts/PB.

  • Eat a carbohydrate-rich meal –Restore glycogen.
    Examples: Bagel, cereal, pancakes, waffle, toast, granola bar, fruit.

  • Drink fluids – Replenish and prevent dehydration. Replace electrolytes.
    Examples: Water, soy/skim milk, fruit juice, sports drink.

  • Eat small meals and snacks after meal– Eat in small portions through out the day for proper fueling and preventing weight gain.


  • Immediately after * workout:
    *2-3 hour workout: 200-250 calorie smoothie, 200-300 calorie breakfast.
    *3-4 hour workouts: 250-300 calorie smoothie, 300-350 calorie breakfast.
    *4+ hour workout: 250-350 calorie smoothie, 300-400 calorie breakfast. 100-200 calorie snack 2-3 hours post meal.

  • Drink 16-20 ounces water within first hour post-workout. Drink 8-16 ounces water every 1-2 hours post exercise (until you finish 40 ounces fluid).
    *Calories depend on body size, training intensity and experience.

Key notes for post-training:

  • Consume liquid protein snack within 30 minutes post exercise.

  • Replenish glycogen stores with a carbohydrate meal of a moderate glycemic index.

  • Follow liquid protein snack with a carbohydrate-rich meal.

  • Hydrate immediately. Include fruits in the post-training meal to provide electrolytes lost in sweat.

Sample recovery foods:

1 scoop 90-110 calorie protein powder with 6 ounces skim/soy milk and 4 ounces water.
4-6 ounces low sugar, fat-free yogurt with 1/3 cup dry cereal
String cheese with 15 pretzels
Nuts with 5 whole wheat crackers
½ Bagel with 1 tablespoon peanut butter and ½ banana
½ cup cottage cheese with ½ pear (sliced) and 2 tablespoons raisins
1 cup soy/skim milk with ¾ cup dry cereal
160 calorie (or less) sports/granola bar with 6 ounces skim/soy milk
1 cup fresh fruit and ¼ mixed nuts

In order to have the competitive edge you must maintain a healthy and wholesome diet on a regular basis. Always stay hydrated and choose real food, such as fresh fruits, vegetables and lean/veggie meat, on a regular basis. Do not neglect the importance of protein after a workout. In a triathletes diet, emphasize real sources of protein (beans, nuts, meats, eggs, protein powder, cheese, yogurt) with each meal and snack to offset a potential rise in blood sugar.


About Marni
- See all Articles - Custom Nutrition Program
Master of Science degree in Exercise Physiology. Certified sports nutritionist through the International Society of Sports Nutrition.  Spinning class teacher and CPR certified. 2006 Boston Marathon, 2006 IMFL, 2007 Ironman World Championship finisher and qualified for the 2007 Ironman 70.3 World Championship.
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date: June 5, 2008