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This is what happens when you don't eat after your workout

May 23, 2018

This is what happens when you don't eat after your workout

We all know the story. You book a lunchtime barre class, sandwiched in between meetings and phone calls, only to find yourself three hours post-sweat ravenously hungry and on a rampage to find food. It's called hAnger, and it's the worst feeling. Not to mention terrible for your body and brain. 

We cannot emphasize enough how important it is to put the right thing in your body post-workout. Not only does it keep you from flying off the handle at work, but it's paramount for proper recovery, optimum brain function and overall health. Let's walk through it. 

Your body's needs post-workout

During a workout, whether it's a barre class or high intensity interval training, you're breaking down muscles. This breakdown is actually micro tears in your muscles that need to be healed. Proper post-workout nutrition gives your body the building blocks to complete this healing and recovery. Specifically, your body needs protein to help with muscle recovery, electrolytes to help you rehydrate and metabolic fats for a quick source of energy.

The 30 minute window

As important as post-workout nutrition itself is the timing of the nutrition. These micro tears are primed for nutrient absorption within 30 minutes of your workout, which is why it's so important to feed them. The further out you get from your workout, the harder it is for those muscles to absorb what you're eating. Research shows that your body's ability to repair muscle decreases by 50 percent if you wait to eat just 2 hours post-workout compared to eating right away.  Perhaps it's no surprise then that many experts say that your post-workout nutrition is even more important than the workout itself! 

What happens when you miss the 30 minute window?

First off, you'll probably start to feel faint and exhausted. Part of this is linked to the degree of difficulty of your workout, but the other part is lack of proper nutrition. Short term, this depletion leads to longer recovery times, less energy and negative effects on mood, as workouts deplete your glycogen stores. (Glycogen is what gives your brain the energy to think clearly and process what's going on around you. Without it, that anxious, jittery, hangry feeling starts to come on strong.)

Longer term, lack of proper post-workout nutrition means you aren't seeing the payoff for all your hard work! As we all know, this means less lean muscle, and a slower metabolism.

So, what should you be eating? 

Ideally, you're able to eat or drink 10-20 grams of protein (we prefer plants for their added vitamins and minerals) along with electrolytes and metabolic fats. To take full advantage of that 30 minute golden window, bring a snack with you to have on your way out of the studio (our fave is Après, of course!) or get your booty to the closest healthy cafe or kitchen. 

Have more questions about post-workout nutrition? We got you! Ask your question in the comments below or shoot us an email directly to 

 Sources: 12, 3, 4

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