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Your New Post-Workout Nutrition Strategy for Muscle Gains: Post-Workout Plan

July 1, 2020

post workout nutrition plan

No matter what type of nutrition plan you’re on the most important meal of the day is your post-workout meal.

This is especially crucial if you’re doing bodybuilding workouts. I’ll explain why, later.

Chances are, you already gulp down a protein shake with carbs as soon as you get home from the gym. That’s awesome, and it works.

But did you know there’s a 2nd post-workout meal that you should consider?

In this post, I’m going to share a new post-workout nutrition strategy that will help you pack on more muscle. We’ll go over the meals in detail, the timing, and you’ll even learn what supplements are most effective with these meals for extreme muscle growth.

When you get to the supplement section towards the end of this post, there are links that will take you to Amazon. As an Amazon associate, I do get rewarded if you purchase through my links.

This helps support this site, and thank you!

To add, I will only recommend products that I either currently take or have taken and have had adequate experience with.

Why Post-Workout Nutrition is Important

post workout protein shake with blueberries

Before we talk about the meals you’ll be eating, and that’s coming soon because I’m hungry, let’s discuss the importance of post-workout nutrition.

In order to better understand this, we need to know what happens to our muscles while we’re in the gym. In short, they are broken down and depleted.

Particularly in bodybuilding workouts, your muscles become depleted of glycogen. This is due to the high volume and many exercises performed on a specific muscle (think of ‘chest day’ or ‘leg day’ and so forth).

…typical high volume bodybuilding-style workouts involving multiple exercises and sets for the same muscle group would deplete the majority of local glycogen stores.

‘Nutrient timing revisited: is there a post-exercise anabolic window?’ by Alan Albert Aragon and Brad Jon Schoenfeld, January 29, 2013, US National Library of Medicine
National Institutes of Health

The above quote, which is from a study based on post-workout nutrient timing, goes on to talk about the breakdown of muscle protein from the lack of glycogen.

So, replenishing glycogen levels is the first of three goals after your workout is finished, per the article ‘All About Post-Workout Nutrition’ by Ryan Andrews, MS, MA, RD, RYT, CSCS on the Precision Nutrition website.

  1. Replenish glycogen
  2. Decrease protein breakdown
  3. Increase protein synthesis

These goals all revolve around one thing: building muscle size.

Post-Workout Timing

In addition, the timing of protein and carbohydrates are just as important. When you’re muscles are depleted of glycogen your body is in a catabolic, muscle-wasting state. Quickly getting these nutrients put your body back into an anabolic, muscle-building state.

This is why it’s a common practice for bodybuilders to drink protein shakes with fast-digesting whey protein and simple carbs.
And I’m going to share my personal post-workout shake recipe below.

Post-Workout Strategy: 2 Post-Workout Meals, Not Just 1

We talked about the importance of post-workout nutrition immediately after your workout. The protein shake described earlier is perfect, but there’s more.

If you really want to take your gains to the next level, you need another meal (what I call ‘2nd post-workout meal’) about an hour after your shake. And here’s why…

  • Your 1st post-workout meal consists of fast-digesting protein with simple carbs
  • You’re going to soon need sustaining sources of nutrients to continue the recovery process so that your muscles can grow

Now, this 2nd post-workout meal is going to be different from your 1st. And you’ll see the differences between the two meals below.

Timing of Your Post Workout Meals:

  • Meal 1 – Immediately after your workout (or when you get home from the gym)
  • Meal 2 – About an hour after your first post-workout meal

Meal 1: Immediate Post-Workout Meal

bodybuilding protein
Whey protein powder35-50 grams
Almond milk8-10 ounces
Frozen berries1/2 cup
Natural peanut or almond butter1/2 serving
Raw (local) honey1 teaspoon

This meal gives you plenty of fast-digesting protein, which promotes protein synthesis, another crucial part of building muscle size.

You can substitute the carbohydrate sources if you choose. The reason ‘frozen berries’ are in this protein smoothie recipe is because it makes your shake cold so that you don’t have to add ice. And berries are loaded with antioxidants.

You’ll notice there are some fats in this meal from the peanut butter. You typically want to keep your fat intake low post-workout so that it doesn’t slow down the digestion of your protein and carbs.

However, I add a little fat with my immediate post-workout shake because I also take my multi-vitamin and fish oil at this time, and most vitamins are fat-soluble.

Meal 2: Whole Food Post-Workout Meal

Chicken6-8 ounces
Jasmine rice1-2 servings
Carrot1-2 servings
Red and green peppers1-2 servings

For this next, you want some slower digesting protein and complex carbohydrates. In other words, your body now needs a slower release of these nutrients.

In fact, this is the way most of your meals should be outside of your immediate post-workout meal. These types of nutrients are what will give your body energy and help continue muscle recovery.

You can substitute these foods. For example, you may want a sirloin steak or turkey instead of chicken. Or you may want whole grain pasta instead of rice, or sweet potatoes instead of the other veggies listed.

Because I train in the early mornings, my 2nd post-workout meal is breakfast foods that consist of eggs, ham, and oatmeal. It’s a little higher on the ‘fat’ side but I always like to share what I do.

For more wholefood meals, you can check out my post: Meals for Mass Gains.

Supplements You Can Take With Post-Workout Meals

post workout nutrition

Obviously, whey protein (your core ingredient for your post-workout shake) is considered a supplement, so that’s the first thing we’ll discuss here.

Some say that whey protein isn’t necessary. And that may be true, but it is convenient. And it’s also one of the fastest-digesting protein sources, which we know is important after you train.

For those reasons, whey protein powder is essential, at least to me, it is. One of my go-to sources is Bodybuilding.com Whey Protein Powder.

But there are some other supplements that you should consider taking with your post-workout meals. Actually, the majority of these should be taken with your first meal, your protein and carb smoothie.

I’m not going to load you down with a bunch of supplements to buy. This list is minimal but each supplement is extremely effective at helping you pack on more muscle.

Creatine Post-Workout

The ‘old school’ creatine monohydrate is still considered one of the best muscle-building supplements you can take. It’s also the least expensive.

Creatine works by expanding your muscles so that they can hold more water, which in essence makes them bigger and stronger. Creatine also provides your muscle with energy.

Creatine is a natural substance that turns into creatine phosphate in the body. Creatine phosphate helps make a substance called adenosine triphosphate (ATP). ATP provides the energy for muscle contractions.

‘An Overview of Creatine Supplements’ reviewed by Melinda Ratini, DO, MS, WebMD

There are also many studies that show that creatine monohydrate is even more effective when combined with protein and simple carbohydrates.

It’s a no-brainer to take creatine. So add a hefty scoop to your protein shake.

There are several reputable supplement brands that carry creatine. My first-choice is Optimum Nutrition Creatine Monohydrate.

Multivitamins Post Workout

Some may tell you that taking a multivitamin is a waste. But here’s the thing…

People like us who train hard deplete more micronutrients that those who are, for a better word, stationary (or let’s just called it what it is…lazy!).

We need more of pretty much everything than normal people because our lifestyle is more extreme and demanding. Most multivitamins will ensure that you’re getting enough.

Post-workout is a great time to take your multivitamin simply because that’s when you’re body is depleted of both macro and micronutrients.

You can take your multis with either meal, but remember that most vitamins are fat-soluble. So if you take them with post-workout meal #1, be sure to add a little fat, like a 1/2 serving of peanut butter (as mentioned on the protein shake recipe earlier).

My recommended multivitamin is actually far more than just a multivitamin. It’s designed specifically for bodybuilders and weightlifters, Universal Nutrition Animal Pak.

Zinc, Magnesium, B6, DAA for Testosterone Boost

These supplements help support healthy testosterone levels, especially when combined. And these are extremely important supplements for men.

You can take this post-workout as well. Just make sure that the meal has some fats to help with absorption.

You can actually find all of these ingredients in one of the strongest natural testosterone boosters called TestoFierce.

In fact, it’s combined with other ingredients that amplify the test-boosting effects such as Ashwagandha Root Powder, Asian Ginseng Powder, BioPerine (Black Pepper Extract), and more.


Post-Workout Power

I ‘strongly’ encourage you to try the post-workout shake recipe that I gave you earlier. It gives you everything you need to kick-start the muscle-recovery process, but it also tastes delicious! Just remember to use frozen berries.

And remember, you can eat pretty much whatever standard whole food meal you want for your 2nd post-workout meal. As long as you’re getting plenty to slower-digesting protein and carbs, you’re set.

I hope you enjoyed this post and hope that you got value from it. Please help support this site by sharing this post.

Excuses Don’t Build Muscle,


About the author

Jason Stallworth

Hi, I'm Jason Stallworth and I created The Muscle Program in 2010 for the purpose of helping you build muscle. I know first-hand how weight training and being in the gym has shaped my life in more way than one. And here is where I share that experience with you so that you can continue pushing yourself and becoming the best version of yourself each day!