This is an excerpt from The Fighter’s Diet

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The three most important meals of the day are breakfast (or using my terminology Pre-Breakfast), your pre-workout meal, and your post-workout meal.

You could easily argue that post-workout nutrition is THE most important of the three.

Following any type of workout whether its your strength & conditioning, your cardio, sparring, or your skill work—proper nutrition right after you’re done is paramount.

Its paramount because your body needs lots of nutrients to recover, and it requires certain types.

So let’s talk about that.

Why is Post Workout Nutrition So Important

There are a couple reasons why post workout nutrition is so important.

1. Recovery

You’ve depleted your muscle glycogen, your blood sugar’s dropped, and your muscles have been broken down.

If you don’t provide the proper nutrients post workout they won’t repair themselves or grow.

2. Metabolic Rate

The idea behind this diet is to keep our metabolism high so we’re burning calories and our fat stores.

If you don’t consume the right nutrients post workout your blood sugar levels can’t normalize—which in turn causes your body to go into a catabolic effect. You begin to lose muscle as well as slow down your metabolism.

There is about a 45 minute window post workout that your body craves nutrients.

I tell people all the time that if they’re trying to build muscle with their workouts and they miss consumption during this window that they essentially just wasted their time working out. Yes, it’s THAT important.

But as an athlete or the average person who’s trying to sustain their current muscle mass and burn fat, if you miss this window—not only are you going to feel like shit, but you’ll slow your metabolism down. Which isn’t helping you accomplish your goal either.

So if consuming a meal post workout is so important, what’s the best thing to consume?

The Post Workout Recovery Shake

You can argue other substitutes, but the best thing to consume is a protein shake.

And I do this immediately after I stop whatever workout I’m doing, the sooner the recovery process gets started the better.

After your workout your body needs two things:

1. Protein

To repair or build muscle mass.

2. Fast Digesting Carbs

To help stabilize blood sugar levels, replenish your muscle’s glycogen stores, and to spike your insulin levels so that the protein gets transported from the blood stream into the muscles.

Protein comes in the form of powdered whey, soy, or casein.

I’d go with whey because it’s the fastest digesting protein (soy is fast digesting too).

And your fast digesting carbs (simple sugar) can come in the form of juice, a sports drink like gatorade, or skim milk.

You can make them yourself or you can buy the RTDs (ready to drink) shakes available at every supplement store.

Regardless of which path you choose the goal is still the same. I try to consume anywhere from 20 to 40 grams of protein and 40 to 60 grams of fast digesting carbs.

Depending on bodyweight, your ultimate goal (more muscle/less muscle), and the intensity of your workout those numbers will fluctuate from person to person.

The Post Workout Meal

If you thought post workout nutrition stopped with the shake…you’d be wrong.

Because of the increased absorption rate of nutrients post workout you’ll find yourself getting hungry sooner than the typical 3 hours between meals.

And that’s ok—it’s just a continuation of the recovery process. You’re body’s letting you know it’s time for another balanced meal. Usually around 60 to 90 minutes post workout.

This, if you’ll remember, is just like our pre-breakfast and breakfast scenario.

You’ll notice that your pre-workout meal, post workout shake, and post workout meal are all kind of grouped together closer than our typical 3 hour interval, and that’s fine.

They’re all still counted as meals. This is how we’re able to reach 6,7, and possibly up to 8 meals a day (if you have multiple workouts).

After your post workout shake then meal you’ll return back to the normal interval.