Shocking But True: Your Body Needs Carbs After Exercising.

You know that it takes protein to build muscles like these - but did you know it takes carbs, too?

Yes, I said the dreaded c-word. I know what you’re thinking: “Carbs are bad! Carbs are terrible! Get that Kool-Aid away from me!” But hear me out.

Many people adhere to low-carb diets to maintain a lean build. And it works. Low-carb diets can be extremely effective. Even so, there is one time when all people need to consume carbohydrates – and that is after a workout.

After a workout, most fitness enthusiasts know they need protein to rebuild and repair their muscles. As such, there’s a full spectrum of quality protein powders available. But marketers are savvy. Realizing the bad rap that carbohydrates get, most of these protein powders pride themselves on being low-carb or carb-free. While this might seem like a great selling point, it flies in the face of science and post-workout research.

When taken after a workout, carbohydrates restore muscle glycogen. And if you don’t eat carbs in your post-workout recovery meal, your body may actually break down muscle for this very same purpose. Uh-oh.

After you finish exercising, your body needs carbs – and it needs them fast. Simple carbohydrates, like the ones you might usually avoid any other time in the day, are absorbed quickest by the body, and thus they’re the ideal candidate. 40 – 70 grams of carbohydrates usually do the trick, which is basically a bottle of Vitamin Water. Nothing too crazy, though some trainers might advise upwards of 120 grams.

Here’s the bottom line: After you exercise, take a protein shake. And, in the likely event that your protein shake doesn’t provide enough carbs, grab a quick sugary drink or even a dextrose supplement. Yes, Davey Wavey just told you to drink a sugary drink. I promise, this is the only time!

About Davey Wavey

Davey Wavey is a certified personal trainer and YouTube sensation with more than 100 million video views. For Davey's fitness tips and secrets, sign up for his free monthly newsletter - or download any of his affordable and effective workout programs.


  1. Shocking… Shouldn’t this be done in your “golden hour”? A whole hour after working out?

  2. What are other options for carbs to eat after a workout? What protein supplement do you use?

    • Hey, as you might know… there are three building blocks and sources of energy that a body needs.

      Carbs, Fats and Protein.
      The only reason why you need to it the proteins after sport, is to have building blocks for your muscles… but its the sam as building a house, you cant do it on an empty stomache. So your body need energy, and you get that from carbs and fat.
      Basicly carbs and fat are all broken down into the same things: Carbs into Glucose, and Fat into two other parts.

      So it doesnt matter what carbs you eat, just eat them!
      Try Pyruvat

  3. along with your post-workout protein drink, eat an apple or a banana…

    ~ cheers…

  4. umm davey i am addicted to sugar and i havent eaten fruit or vegetables in about seven years… do you know of anything that can get me to eat fruit and less sugar??????

  5. I’m Shocked!!

  6. Another very important reason for carbs: brain food. You need carbs to maintain brain function, so a low carb diet can help you with looking skinny and buff, but the slightly slackjawed look of brain damage isn’t sexy. :P

    That’s why they tell you to feed your kids carbs before testing days (SATs, PSSAs, LSATs, GREs, State Testing, etc) because it will help to promote healthy brain function to improve focus and memory recall of facts, among other things.

    • Right. And you need carbs BEFORE your workout, not just after. Otherwise you may get lightheaded.

      • christopher says:

        same here-just this past friday eve-i did carbs-then saturday late morn-early aft-went on a few mile march.that was a snap-no problem for me-i had the stamina-and did a few more miles later in the afternoon-and i did sushi-rice-thats a carb.

      • christopher says:

        carbs like pasta are good-but only beneficial-if you workout imminently.pasta or rice or potato-without working out puts on the kilos.

  7. I always just mix a bit of maple syrup into my protein drink. I find it still tastes good that way, and then I get the bit of carb intake I need.

  8. ConcernedNutritionStudent says:

    Yes, your body needs carbs after a workout. However, a sugary drink will also slow your body’s metabolism. Why would you want to do all that work and stunt your metabolism. Scientists have consistently shown that low-fat (chocolate) milk is the best to drink after a workout because the combination of healthy carbs and proteins is “just right.”

  9. Micheal says:

    While I would completely agree with this article for anyone whose body uses glycolysis for energy; this article does not apply to those who use low-carb diets to achieve lipolysis.

    If you reduce carbs for the purpose of burning fat then it should be to induce ketosis. While in ketosis, your body will switch from using glucose and glycogen for energy (because it is hardly available) and will instead use fat as its primary energy source. This performs something very beneficial for body builders: your body no longer has your fat compete with your lean muscle tissue for energy!

    You see, when in a state of glycolysis, your body will typically use almost half and half fat and muscle when you lose any significant amount of weight (this usually only applies to trying to lose more than 1.5lb of body fat a week). In a ketogenic diet (as they have been known), almost all weight loss is fat, because your body does not break down muscle proteins for energy so long as there is still fat reserves to be used.

    Now the article did mention one the most important part of muscle training which is glycogen. Now a ketogenic diet will cause you to lose great deals of body fat while preserving muscle, BUT the glycogen in your muscles will never restore without consuming carbs. This creates a problem, because as soon as you consume any significant amount of carbs, your body knocks you out of ketosis (and thusly lipolysis), and shifts you straight back to the old method of glycolysis.

    To compromise on this problem, many builders follow what is called a Cyclical Ketogenic Diet (CKD) or a Targetted Ketogenic Diet (TKD). This practice is often known as “carb cycling.” Basically you take 1-2 days out of the week to “carb up” and restore the glycogen stores in your muscle. Then you go back to the low-carb diet to induce ketosis (and therefore lipolysis) as quickly as possible before your next carb up. This method is highly effective for “cutting” periods and many builders say they can both cut AND bulk by following a strict CKD or TKD.

    • Kyle Sainz says:

      Would it make a difference on the ‘carb-up’ weekend period if you do certain types of carbs or do them morning or night given the whole store as fat while sleeping thing or is carb-up just whatever whenever given the body’s lack therof.

      • Kyle Sainz says:

        Would it make a difference on the ‘carb-up’ weekend period if you do certain types of carbs or do them morning or night given the whole store as fat while sleeping thing or is carb-up just whatever whenever given the body’s lack therof.

  10. I hope you see this Davey. Do you know how many carbs are needed post-workout?


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