After a tough workout it is essential to refuel the body, but it is important to eat according to your specific exercise goals and the type of workout you have just performed.
For example, an endurance athlete coming back from a 90 minute run or cycling session would have different goals, energy requirements, and macronutrient replenishment needs than a strength training athlete who has just completed a 60 minute weight training session – that is just logical common sense.
If you throw into the equation that you are following Paleo guidelines, it doesn’t make things harder per se – it just takes a bit of extra thought. This is mainly because many standard ‘sports nutrition’ post-training shakes or potions will contain dairy in the form of whey protein, plus they will generally be full of sweeteners and other processed ingredients to make them palatable, which in my opinion goes against the fundamental principles of a Paleo lifestyle.
…an endurance athlete coming back from a 90 minute run or cycling session would have different goals, energy requirements, and macronutrient replenishment needs than a strength training athlete who has just completed a 60 minute weight training session…
Before I share a few of my recommended post-training meals, I’d like to highlight some of the factors you should consider before choosing your post-workout food.
What Do I Need?
If you have had an endurance workout – I would classify this as at least 60 minutes of moderate to high intensity continuous exercise – or have completed a high intensity interval training/circuit style workout of 30-45 minutes, then your glycogen (stored carbohydrate) will be depleted.
If your fitness goals are to improve cardiovascular health or you are playing competitive sport, then you need to consume approximately 1g carbohydrates per kg of body weight within 2 hours of exercise, to fully aid recovery (as recommended in The Complete Guide to Sports Nutrition).1
If your goals are specifically related to fat loss, then you may have a different set of macronutrient requirements after training. Phil Richards, one of the UK’s leading strength and conditioning experts, recommends a more ketogenic based diet for these goals in his book, KHIIT.2 A ketogenic diet would involve low carbohydrate, medium protein, and high fat – with the fat being the nutrient used for fuel.
The Power of Protein
Protein is often called the building block of life – probably due to its central role in helping bones, muscles, and other tissue to repair and grow, and its importance for immune function and the manufacturing of enzymes, antibodies and hormones, amongst other things.3
So despite your training goals, consuming enough protein after training is going to be essential for recovery. But how much is enough? As highlighted by Kris Gunnars of Authority Nutrition₃, there is regular debate in the industry over how much protein we require each day, but in reality the amount will depend upon factors such as gender, bodyweight, health status, activity level, and so on.
A more reliable figure is the amount of protein per meal that the body can actually utilise. In a recent review article, John Beradi, PhD4 (founder of Precision Nutrition) recommended 20-30g of protein per meal or, in layman’s terms, approximately 1 chicken breast, or 2 large eggs with some spinach leaves.
To be clear, protein after training is essential for both endurance and strength training athletes as well as for those trying to lose body-fat or gain muscle mass.
Post-training Paleo Meals
1. Glycogen replenishment: Avocado, banana, and berry shake.
Great for replenishing your glycogen stores after endurance or HIIT training.
Yields: 1 large glass
500kcal | 51g carbs | 22g protein | 23g fat*
- 400 ml coconut milk
- 1 medium banana
- ½ large avocado
- 1 scoop of vegan protein powder (I use Sun Warrior Blend in Vanilla)
- 1 tsp ground flaxseed
- 100g mixed frozen berries
- Place all of the ingredients into a blender and process until smooth.
2. High fat, low carb energy booster: Homemade chicken liver pate, Paleo crackers/GF oatcakes, and salad.
Ideal for those on ketogenic diets or trying to moderate their carbohydrate level.
Serves: 1 person
470kcal | 10g carbs | 19g protein | 40g fat*]
- 100g organic chicken liver (pan fried until cooked through)
- 3 tbsp softened organic grass-fed butter
- 1 tsp mixed herbs
- Pinch of sea salt
- Freshly ground black pepper to taste
- 2 Paleo crackers or organic gluten-free oatcakes
- 85g (large handful) mixed leaves
- Place the cooked chicken livers, butter, herbs, salt, and pepper into a food processor and blend until a smooth paste is formed.
- Serve with the Paleo crackers/oatcakes and a mixed leaf side salad.
3. Nutrient dense post-workout energy: Paleo banana and nut loaf with almond butter.
A great option for those with general fitness goals, who need an energy boost after training.
Serves: 5 people (2 slices each)
500kcal | 18g carbs | 17g protein | 40g fat*
- 100g raw pecans
- 100g raw almonds
- 2 large bananas
- 4 medium free range eggs
- 2 tsp coconut oil
- 1 tsp honey
- 1 tsp ground cinnamon
- 1 tsp ground nutmeg
- ½ tsp baking soda
- ½ tsp cream of tartar
- Grind the nuts in a food processor until they make a fine powder. Add to a mixing bowl with the remaining dry ingredients.
- Add eggs, bananas, honey, and coconut oil into a blender and blend until smooth. Pour the mixture into the dry ingredients and stir to create a thick paste.
- Line a loaf tin and pour in the mixture evenly. Bake in oven at 180⁰C for approximately 40 minutes, until golden brown. Allow to cool for 10-15 minutes before turning out and slicing.
* Macro nutrients and values in all recipes included are approximate and can be adapted according to your own energy requirements.
Have you got any favourite post-training Paleo meals you’d like to share? Why not leave a comment using the comments box below.
- Bean, A. (2003). The Complete Guide to Sports Nutrition (4th ed). London, UK: A & C Black Publishers Ltd.
- Richards, P. (2015). The KHIIT Fat Loss Plan. Pontypool, UK: Zenith Media.
- Holford, P. (2004). The New Optimum Nutrition Bible. London, UK: Pitakus Books Ltd.
- Gunnars, K. (2015). Protein Intake – How much protein should you eat per day? In Authority Nutrition. Retrieved 17th December 2015, from http://authoritynutrition.com/how-much-protein-per-day/
- Beradi, J. (n.d). Limit protein to 20g per meal? In Precision Nutrition. Retrieved 17th December 2015, from http://www.precisionnutrition.com/protein-limit