What To Eat After A Workout To Build Lean Muscle

Working out is great unless your recovery sucks. That’s why we’re going to tell you about the importance of post-workout food and exactly what to eat after a workout, to refuel your body with optimal post-workout nutrition. In doing so, you’ll gain more lean muscle, shred more unwanted body fat, and feel better overall (including the next day).


  1. Replenish glycogen & energy

  2. Repair and rebuild quality muscle mass

What To Eat After Your Workout

So let’s start here - why does what you eat after a workout matter? Before we get into what to actually put on your plate, you need to understand what a workout does to your body. There’s these nifty little things in our muscle tissues that give us energy called glycogen. Our body keeps glycogen in our muscles so that we can be ready to use them quickly, whether it’s to run after the mail man or explode through a power clean.

When we do exercises with weights, like resistance training, we cause micro-tears in our muscles which helps them grow. However, this damages our muscle proteins, and without giving them back nutrients post-workout, we starve the muscles, keeping them from repairing and rebuilding. This is why you get really sore a few hours later or even the next day. You’re lacking nutrients.

RELATED: Wellness Stack From Swolverine


  1. Better workout recovery

  2. Less soreness

  3. Better muscle-building ability

  4. Improved bone density

  5. Better fat-burning ability

Why Is Food Important Post Workout

If your body isn’t getting the nutrients it needs, like carbohydrates, to replenish glycogen and other nutrients that are used up during exercise, your recovery isn’t going to be very good. Sure, you might rest after a workout and feel ‘recovered’, but while you’re resting, your body is working extremely hard to repair those micro-tears in your muscles.

Denying your body nutrients, especially within an hour or so of working out, can cause long-term damage because ultimately, you’re denying your body the resources it needs to repair. It’s like expecting your car to run when it doesn’t have any gas in it. That gas is glycogen, which is derived from carbohydrates.

It’s also important to note that muscle hypertrophy happens only when a positive protein balance is established post-workout. If you don’t, your muscles will break down from your workout and have no way of reaping themselves. This is especially important for endurance athletes or those that workout for more than an hour.

RELATED: Extra Sore? Here’s Why Glutamine Is The Best Supplement For Soreness

What Is The Window Of Opportunity

You may have heard of it, you may have not. Either way, the window of opportunity that we’re talking about here is the timeframe after your workout that your body is most primed to accept and use nutrients for muscle synthesis. This window opens right when you finish your workout and closes around the 2-hour mark. If you can get food in, within the first hour or so, you’re going to be priming your body for the most optimal situation to build and rebuild some really quality muscle that was broken down during your workout. This is why we call it ‘post-workout nutrition because it’s right after your workout.

What happens if you don’t refeed your body within the window of opportunity? Well, if you don’t get nutrients in fat enough, even if it’s outside of the 2-hour window, you decrease your body’s ability to accept and use the nutrients you give it. Glycogen storage goes down and so does muscle protein synthesis. So in short, keep a post-workout on hand in your bag, in your car, or if you live close enough, have it right when you get home.


Post Workout Nutrition - What To Eat After Your Workout

Consuming the right nutrients is fundamental to maximize athletic performance by rebuilding lean muscle mass and optimizing recovery. Exercise capacity, performance, and recovery from exercise can be enhanced by evidence-based nutritional interventions through the manipulation of different nutritional variables like nutrient composition, quantity, and timing of nutrient ingestion.


  1. Protein for muscle building

  2. Carbs for glycogen replenishment & insulin for transport

Post-workout nutrition is critical to help improve athletic performance and optimize recovery. The nutrients you receive from the foods you eat can effectively reduce post-workout inflammation and oxidative stress; the two most common contributing factors to delayed onset muscle soreness. Glutamine-rich foodsOmega-3 fatty acids, and fruits rich in polyphenols such as blueberries and pomegranates are robust in anti-inflammatory polyphenols, flavonoids, and antioxidants which can help relieve soreness.


  1. Increase blood flow

  2. Improve nutrient and oxygen delivery

  3. Provide amino acids from protein and glucose from carbs to encourage protein synthesis (muscle repair/rebuild)

RELATED: What is muscle protein synthesis

Post Workout Carbs

Post-workout carbs, specifically Complex carbohydrates are a critical piece to your post-workout nutrition strategy. Carbs are broken down into glycogen and aid in the recovery process by optimizing amino acid utilization from protein and reducing muscle mass breakdown. Glycogen is also the first form of energy metabolized to support your workouts during long and intense training periods. When glycogen stores are depleted, you will experience lethargy and muscle fatigue. Carbs are crucial to influencing the restoration of exercise capacity during high-intensity training.

RECOMMENDED PRODUCT: Clean Carbs - Liquid Real Food Recovery Supplement


Protein provides fundamental amino acids to build and rebuild muscle mass. Oftentimes, ingesting a fast-acting form of protein can be one of the best recovery methods, to help relieve muscle soreness post-workout.

A study published in the journal Nutrients examined the effects of whey protein supplementation on performance recovery after resistance training. 12 study participants consumed 25g of whey protein post-workout and 25g the following morning. The study found that whey protein significantly reduced acute muscle soreness 24 hours post-workout [R].

Swolverine’s Whey Protein Isolate has 26g of protein per serving, to help relieve muscle soreness and optimize post-workout muscle recovery.

Fat After A Workout

While fat isn’t bad, when it comes to post-workout nutrition and what to eat after a workout, we recommend building your food around protein and carbs instead of fat. Fat doesn’t actually affect glycogen stores or muscle recovery, so it’s not entirely necessary. If you’re looking for a quick and easy post-workout, we recommend mixing Swolverine’s Whey Protein Isolate (or Plant Protein) with a scoop of CLEAN CARBS powder which is powdered sweet potato, yams, oats, and blueberries. Because it’s liquid, if you’re looking to maximize your post-workout recovery and gains from your hard work, then this is the best way to go.

RELATED: 10 delicious post-workout snacks to build more muscle

RECOMMENDED: Whey Protein Isolate & Clean Carbs

During Your Workout

If you’re an endurance athlete and require a larger amount of carbohydrates in your diet, then you should absolutely be taking an intra workout carb supplement and post-workout carb. If you’re not an endurance athlete and/or you’re not training over 1 1/2 hours per day, then you do not necessarily need an intra-workout carbohydrate.

That being said, you may consider adding in a scoop of BCAA + Electrolytes into your water for during your workout to create a positive amino acid balance in the body so that you don’t unintentionally breakdown muscle during your workout. This will also provide you with intra-workout hydration.

RECOMMENDED: BCAA + Electrolyte Powder

What To Eat After Your Workout

In short, you want to eat within an hour or two of finishing your workout. You want your post-workout meal to have protein and carbs, while fat isn’t necessary to stimulate protein synthesis and repair glycogen levels. If you’re not exactly hungry after a workout and/or whole foods like oatmeal, a banana, eggs, and toast doesn’t exactly sound appetizing, we strongly suggest getting your protein and carbs from real food powdered supplements. These supplements are Whey Protein Isolate and Clean Carbs from Swolverine, as they have the highest quality concentration of nutrients to deliver to your tired body right after your workout. Plus, together, they’re delicious! Long story short, if you want to reap the rewards of your workout and thank your body for letting you push it as hard as you do, give back to it with quality nutrients when you’re done. Capeesh?!

The Swole Kitchen - Get Started

THE SWOLE KITCHEN provides 1:1 nutrition coaching, macro coaching, and custom meal plans to help guide you to becoming the best version of yourself.

We believe nutrition should be simplified and delicious. We give you the tools you’ve been missing to anticipate and meet your needs on a daily basis. Discover what if feels like to truly love your body and your life with personalized 1:1 nutrition coaching.

Tags: Training