There is a lot of curiosity and controversy on the best recovery foods. So many people asking, “what is the best muscle recovery foods?” and the answer is that it depends. It depends on your workout and your goals, and possibly most importantly, it depends on the time that you eat those recovery foods.

To start off with the basics, you should eat immediately post workout. This is the time when you have depleted your glycogen supply, which is the sugar storage form found in your muscles and liver. At this time you need to replace it with new carbohydrates, if your don’t your recovery will be impeded. You also need protein at this time too.

Protein is the building block for your muscles, it acts like lego blocks and builds whatever the body needs. During an effective workout you tear apart the insides of muscle cells and need protein to rebuild the sarcomeres that were destroyed and protein to build new ones. Fat, which I haven’t mentioned yet, isn’t necessary, but it doesn’t hurt to have a small amount too.


How much to eat for recovery

The next question is usually how to decide portion size. Well again, it depends. You need to look at the volume of stress during your workout. Your volume of stress is not the same kind of stress most people think about when they hear stress, the volume of stress is simply the intensity of the workout multiplied by the time spent working out.

VoS = I x T

The higher your volume of stress, the more carbohydrates you need and the more protein as well, but not to the same degree. The higher volume will drastically increase your need for carbs and will moderately affect your need for protein. Carbs are your fuel and get burnt like gas in your car and protein on the other hand rarely gets used for fuel as it serves many other functions.

Some ideas for a moderate volume of stress: Fruit, toast, cereals that don’t contain too much sugar, milk low sugar fruit and vegetable juices. For a high volume of stress, try Chocolate milk, Chocolate bars, apple or orange juice, ice cream, protein bars, protein and carbohydrate supplements.

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Playing the supplement game

First off, before you decide to try supplements you need to analyze your diet. Are you getting enough nutrition with your current diet? Supplements don’t provide much nutrition other than carbs and protein.

If you aren’t getting all your nutrition you should start with eating more nutrient dense foods and using such foods to recover. It is imperative to get enough iron and fiber for bodybuilding and exercise in general. I recommend talking to a nutritionist.

Many supplements will only do things for certain body types. A nutritionist can help you decide on what to take and what to avoid. If you ignore this step, read the ingredients on the label. You want to look for Whey and Casien. These are the gold nuggets of supplements, great for building muscle.

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Supplements to avoid

If you have a family history of cancer you want to limit your protein intake. Protein can build cancers too, and if you have cancer, don’t take any supplements at all until you are cured and you ask your doctor about it.

Don’t take Creatine unless you are well educated on the subject. Read the label. If there is more than 30g of protien per serving, cut the serving in half. You can’t absorb more than that all at once, but the supplement companies will tell you that you can so they can sell you more.

More is not better. Too much protein in your system can be turned into fat and if you have too much at once you are going to poop the excess out.

Additionally don’t take just Whey or Casien by themselves, these protein complexes spike your insulin levels, which drops your blood sugar. Have a supplement that contains sugar or eat some sugar around the same time to keep your blood sugar stable, this is a great time to cheat on your diet.

When to eat that recovery meal

When is the best time to eat? You should eat some carbs and protein every three hours after your workout to promote best recovery.

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Pollyanna Hale Health and Lifestyle coaches
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