What To Eat After A Workout To Build Muscle vs What To Eat After A Workout To Lose Weight

Whether you are trying to build muscle or trying to lose weight your nutrition is huge. In order to get the most out of your exercise routines you’ve got to know what to eat after a workout.

There are many meals that are typically good to eat when trying to build muscle but you absolutely should not eat them directly after a workout. The same goes for losing weight. Many times a good and balanced meal is not what to eat after a workout.

What To Eat After A Workout

I realize that there are many who want to gain muscle and lose fat at the same time. If you’re one of those then I’d really recommend going the conservative route in your eating habits. You don’t need to eat a TON of food to gain muscle. It’s my feeling that you’d be better off gaining muscle at a slower rate than gaining fat along with it.

That aside, these suggestions are not for what your actual “meal” should be, but rather this is just aimed at what you should eat immediately after a workout. I know for me, I like to get my post workout “meal” in within minutes of completing my workout and then I’ll eat a real meal about an hour or so later.

What To Eat After A Workout To Build Muscle

Whenever I am really trying to cut fat and get lean I eat a much differently after I train than if I’m trying to build muscle. Generally, your diet should consist of healthy fats, protein, vegetables and quality carbohydrates such as from fruit and occasionally whole grains. For more info you can checkout my articles on how many carbs per day you should eat as well as how many grams of protein per day.

But what you eat right after your workout is a little different than “generally.” This is a time when your body needs and uses the nutrients from food the most. If you down a chicken breast, baked potato with butter and some green beans right after your workout that’s good, right? Well … kind of. This is where a healthy dinner is less than ideal for right after your workout.

The fat in the butter on the baked potato and the fiber in the rest of the food is actually slowing down your body’s ability to absorb these much needed nutrients. When your main goal is to build muscle, you need to get quality protein and carbohydrates into your muscles as quickly as possible … save that dinner for an hour or so afterwards.

So what’s better than lean chicken breasts and baked potatoes for a post workout meal? Chocolate milk is actually a better answer to what to eat after a workout. Yep, good old Nestle Chocolate mix and some non fat milk. Make sure it is non fat/skim milk.

Again, the rules change a bit when it comes to what to eat after a workout because of your body’s eagerness to soak in all that you give it. Normally 1-2% milk would be a better alternative to skim milk because it has at least some fat in it. The fat in milk is good because helps to limit the glycemic index from the natural sugars in milk. While that is good for the rest of the time, you actually want all of that to soak in and go straight to your muscles.

While chocolate milk is slowly becoming more and more popular as a post workout meal, I feel that there is something even a little better. If you can spare a few extra bucks, I’d recommend going with a protein powder (low/non-fat milk) and mixing this with Nestle (or whatever brand you choose) and the non fat milk. This will give you even more protein, more nutrients and usually these are not high in calories or fat.<

What To Eat After A Workout To Lose Weight

So the rules here are actually not that different. Even when trying to lose weight, you can afford a few more carbs than normal … if you want. My take on this is a bit different though.

If you are really focused on losing weight and/or fat then your workout should be quite a bit different than that of a muscle building workout. Because of this, what to eat after a workout changes based on what the workout is aimed to do.

When building muscle your workout is going to consist mostly of lifting weights and lifting a high volume of weights — for more details on that checkout my post on the different types of sets and reps it takes to build muscle mass vs. muscle density.

But when focused on burning fat your workouts should consist of some resistance training at the beginning and then end with a high intensity interval training workout.

After you do this HIIT type of cardio your body will have released a good amount of HGH. This hormone is your friend. The human growth hormone plays a big role in burning fat. You seriously slow down it’s effects by ingesting calories.

In order to allow for the maximum effect you should actually wait 1-2 hours before eating anything. This will ensure that your body is burning as much fat for fuel as possible. There is a word of caution though. If you are concerned about possibly losing some muscle mass then you shouldn’t go this route.

Instead of downing a protein shake though, try taking some BCAA supplements. This will preserve your hard earned muscle and still allow you to lose fat.

Wrapping It Up

Quick absorbing protein and carbs is what to eat after a workout.

If your aim is to gain muscle, then you can go all out and down a protein shake, BCAA’s, some bread, white rice, whatever, as long as it doesn’t contain fat to slow down the absorption.

If you are going purely for fat loss you still need to get nutrients into your muscles but just not as quickly. BCAA’s are great because they help you to stay in the fat burning mode for longer but if you aren’t overly concerned with losing muscle just hold off ingesting anything for about an hour.