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CrossFit Nutrition 102: How to Refuel Post-WOD

August 19, 2016

CrossFit Nutrition 102:  How to Refuel Post-WOD

Part 2: How to Refuel Post-WOD


In Part 1 of this two-part series, I covered some simple ways to optimize nutrition so you can head to the gym (or into your normal daily routine) ready to take on whatever is thrown your way.  Now we’re tackling post-workout nutrition.  Just like you roll out sore muscles, eating the right nutrients after a workout is essential for recovery to ensure you can continue to achieve your health and fitness goals.    

Proper nutrition after a workout can have a big impact on how you feel and function throughout the day, and it also carries over into your future performances in the gym.  After a workout, your muscles are broken down and in need of nutrients to rebuild those damaged tissues.  Replenishing your energy stores is necessary for recovery, but don’t stress yourself out trying to slurp down a protein shake the minute you finish a sweat session. We now know that the proverbial “window of gains” doesn’t just magically close after that 30-45 minute time frame we’ve heard about for years.  However, it is still important to provide your body with essential nutrients within a few hours for optimal recovery.  Here’s what you should be focusing on post-workout:

A combination of protein and carbohydrates.  The amino acids in protein sources will begin repairing those damaged muscle tissues, while the carbohydrates will replenish muscle glycogen.  For some people, this might just be a snack, while for others it might mean a larger meal.  As a general guideline, athletes should aim to consume about 20-30 grams of protein and 40-60 grams of carbohydrate within 2-3 hours of an intense workout.  Some post-workout ideas: a smoothie with fruit and Greek yogurt or scrambled eggs and toast.

Adequate fluids. Water helps to deliver essential nutrients (like those protein and carbs we just talked about) to your tissues, muscles and organs.  Proper hydration prevents electrolyte imbalances, fatigue and more.  A good starting point is to aim to drink about half your body weight in ounces throughout the day (75 oz for a 150lb person), plus some before, during and after intense workouts. 

If you’re short on time after workouts or just don’t feel like eating solid food, a smoothie or protein shake can be a good way to get protein, carbs and fluids to your recovering muscles all at once.  There are endless protein supplement options available and much debate over the best type of protein, but in the end, the right one for you depends on your goals, dietary restrictions, budget and more.  My advice?  Look for a high-quality product with minimal ingredients and no added sugars or artificial sweeteners. 

 *Disclaimer: The information in this post is meant to serve as general guidance and should not replace recommendations from your doctor or other health care professional.  For individualized nutrition advice, consult with a Registered Dietitian.


Kim Hoban is a Registered Dietitian, NASM Certified Personal Trainer, blogger at KH Nutrition, marathoner and CrossFitter.  When she’s not creating recipes in the kitchen or lifting weights, Kim loves helping clients achieve their nutrition and wellness goals.  Follow Kim on Instagram, Twitter and Snapchat (@KimHobanRD).