Two questions will answer this:
When did you eat last?
What did you eat last?
So, when did you eat last?
If your last bite of food was more than 3 hours before beginning your workout – refuelling post-workout should be done fairly quickly.
At this point your glycogen stores are most likely depleted, your insulin is low (not ideal if you’re trying to gain mass), your tank is basically empty, and your muscle protein synthesis (MPS) is also low.
^This last part is extremely important in putting on lean muscle mass. Remember, increased lean muscle mass = increased RMR, BMR, TDEE, which means our bodies can consume more food without gaining weight.
What did you eat last?
Studies show that 20 grams of protein from a solid source can spike your muscle’s amino acid uptake, therefore increasing muscle protein synthesis.
This spike can last up to 3 hours. So, if your pre-workout meal is consumed within 2 hours of hitting the gym, you don’t need to consume a post workout meal RIGHT AWAY.
To continue keeping your MPS high and stay within the optimal recovery/growth timeframe, your post workout meal can now be within 1-2 hours of your workout.
So what about those of us who train fasted?
Hands up if this is you
I personally find my body responds A LOT better when I train in a fasted so I’m usually at the gym within an hour of waking up.
Since fasted training technically throws everything we talked about out the window, one thing I think you should consider is to mix a scoop of protein into some water before you hit the gym.
Does this technically break your fast? Yes.
BUT in my opinion – it’s worth it.
If you’re like me, a water-based protein shake is light enough that it doesn’t affect your tummy but still gives you all the benefits of increased amino acid uptake. You won’t need to chug down another shake post-workout but getting in a solid meal within the 60 to 90-minute timeframe is ideal.
All in all: 3+ hours since food = quicker refuel timeframe
Eat within 3 hours and make sure you’re having a good 25 grams of protein before you lift = refuel within 1-2 hours
Fasted: consider having a scoop of water-based protein shake and refuel within that 60-ish minute mark
What should you eat pre and post workout?
We’ll chat about that next!