Best Way to Get Post-Workout Carbs.


I have a question regarding protein consumption after a work out – I have been a loyal follower of your blog and know that you are a big supporter of whey protein, which I am behind and have picked up for myself – but you also mention the importance of having carbs post workout carbs. My question is do you have a specific mix/shake/drink you make after your workout? I guess I am just confused on how to incorporate the carbs into the protein shake – please help!


Dear Mike,

You’re spot on about the importance of post workout carbs.

In a nutshell, the story goes something like this: When you exercise, your body makes use of both available energy and stored energy from glucose and glycogen. Eventually, the levels of energy get depleted and the body secrets the stress hormone called cortisol. Cortisol eats up muscle tissue (oh no!) and converts the protein into glucose through a processed called gluconeogenesis. Long story short, the body begins to lose muscle tissue.

Taking some carbs after your workout can help prevent this.

We know that post-workout protein is necessary to help rebuild your muscles. I recommend whey protein because it is absorbed quickly. When it comes to carbs, the same is true - faster is better. As such, it’s one of the only times I’ll recommend simple carbohydrates.

So how can you do it?

One possibility is mixing your protein powder with fruit and milk in a blender. Both fruit and milk have carbohydrates, but unfortunately both are absorbed fairly slowly. Simple table sugar is a bit better, but it’s not the best. Most trainers recommend using either dextrose or maltodextrin. You can experiment with either to see which produces better results, and both are available as supplements at nutrition stores. You can mix either into your protein shake.

The amount of post-workout carbs you consume varies depending on your lean body mass (total body weight - total weight of body fat), goals and training intensity. At 158 lbs with 7% body fat, I should take about 40 grams of carbs if looking for definition - and 80 grams if I’m looking to gain muscle mass.

Hope that helps!


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  1. You finally posted an asian guy, thanks for the diversity.

    I eat a quart of vanilla yogurt right after my workout. I’m hoping that these aren’t slowly absorbed carbs like milk.

  2. Or you could just eat some lean turkey and a slice of tomato on whole wheat. Real food is better.

    • There aren’t many carbs in turkey or tomato - and wheat bread has complex carbs that are absorbed slowly. They are bad post-workout choices.

  3. Clarence Coyle says:

    What if you’re a type 2 diabetic. Too much protein not good for kidneys.

    • christopher says:

      same here-im off meds to treat type-2 diabetes because i walk and bike everyday.1.5-3 miles per day.i feel great now.but i had an episode with a chocolate wafer bar and strawberry flavoured water.the chocolate wafer i ate caused a diabetic rush that lasted 4-5 hours.i know not to do that again.anything i should avoid or what i should do?

  4. diese

  5. Sweet potato post workout is a great choice. Poke some holes in one and wrap it in a paper towel. Microwave for 4-5 minutes, throw on some olive oil and cinnamon. Full of vitamins and good carbs for post workout. I am not diabetic but have blood sugar issues/crash when taking dextrose or maltodextrin supps. I’m all about real food!

    • No olive oils or any fats after working out as you want the amino acids and proteins driven into the glycogen de
      Leted muscles that have just been exercised. If you have fat after a workout you will store it. Have fats at a different meal not post workout.

  6. Hello.
    When I work out, (e.g. an hour of yoga), should I still consume protein shake or will that simply make me gain weight? How about banana and high protein yogurt?

    Also, since this is my “immediate” recovery snack, can my next real meal be normal, or should i still have the carb to protein ratio and eat salmon with rice?

  7. I use dextrose mixed with whey protein powder. For people who want to try dextrose (also called d-glucose), don’t pay through the nose for it at a nutrition store. Places that sell to bakers have it cheap, I got it from honeyville foods through amazon for about the same cost as table sugar (which is half fructose -yuck!). Had to buy a giant bag, but it lasts forever and was the cost of a small canister at GNC

  8. I mean the best post workout drink is protein shake. It helps to grow muscles and recover.

  9. Insulin trigerring increased fat storage isn’t quite rite, if you have depleted your glycogen in your muscles enough,from doing an intense workout then having simple carbs like dextrose or glucose with protein after training will help build muscle and stop the catabolic affect and put you in an anabolic state, so the insulin helps build muscle, it will only put fat on if after training you spill over and consume too many carbs.


  1. […] Eat carbs when it counts. When it comes to nutrition, it’s important to recognize the inverse relationship between glycogen and cortisol. As glycogen levels go down, cortisol goes up. When your body runs out of glycogen - which it uses for energy - the increase in cortisol triggers a breakdown of protein (stored as muscle) to be converted to fuel. It’s not a good thing for people trying to build muscle, but it can be avoided by eating first thing in the morning and consuming carbs immediately after a workout. When taking your post-workout protein shake, ensure that you are also getting some simple carbohydra… […]

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