If your committed to getting results from your training, and you’re crushing it in the gym day after day, your post workout recovery nutrition better be dialed in too.

Because the truth is, your workout isn’t finished until you’ve refueled.

Accelerate your recovery and build muscle using the the 4:1 Carb-to-Protein Ratio and the 20 Minute Post-workout Window.

The Key to Recovery: Carbs and Protein


Notice how I said carbs first, and protein second…

Believe it or not, most people think drinking a protein shake is the only secret to gaining lean muscle mass. Although post workout protein consumption does help, it’s merely a part (1/4 to be exact) of the solution to the problem.

You see, timing and macronutrient ratio are two critical factors to consider when refueling post-workout. Research supports that a 3:1 to 4:1 ratio of carbohydrates to protein is the most effective combination of macronutrients to support glycogen replenishment immediately post-workout.

Glycogen is a form of carbohydrate, which is stored in your liver and muscle tissues. Comprised of bonded polysaccharides (sugar molecules) glycogen can be stored or used, depending on the timing of carbohydrate consumption.

Hint, hint.

Functional Sugar: Why should I use it before, during, or after a workout? 
Like fat, sugar gets a bad rap – and as with fat, negative blanket judgments about sugar don’t tell the whole truth about its character or usefulness, especially in the context of sport or performance nutrition. While an excess of refined sugars hidden in processed food is certainly the bane of the average American trying to eat healthier (and lose weight), in the right form at the right time, sugar is an essential functional fuel – before, during, and after your workouts.

When sugars (especially simple ones like glucose and fructose) are consumed pre and mid-workout, their primary purpose is to fuel working muscles immediately. When consumed post-workout, these simple sugars (glucose in particular) play an important role in restoring muscle glycogen reserves, or stored carbohydrate. This replenishment reduces post-exercise fatigue and supports the restoration of muscle tissue.

When should I refuel with carbs?

In the 20 minutes immediately following your workout, your body is most open to restocking lost glycogen. Make it a priority to consume a 3:1 to 4:1 ratio of carbs-to-protein, in snack or beverage form within 20 minutes post-workout to optimize recovery benefits.

Research suggests that the window for replenishment is actually quite small. Some studies state that by as early as the two-hour post-workout mark, muscle glycogen resynthesis is 50% less effective than in the first 20 minutes.

There’s no time to waste!

Refueling with a liquid option allows you to achieve the goals of both glycogen replenishment and rehydration, though solids can be just as effective. Your choice can depend on convenience and texture preferences, just make sure to focus
on high glycemic, glucose-rich carb sources, such as dates.

Fructose alone won’t help replenish muscle glycogen.

Muscle glycogen replenishment also impacts your rate of protein synthesis, which triggers the development of new muscle tissue. Neglecting to replenish glycogen first (and going straight for a high-protein option immediately post- workout) is not as effective for the purpose of muscle tissue development. However, it’s not all about the carbs. A small portion of protein (the 1 in the 4:1 ratio) helps not only to speed muscle glycogen replenishment compared to post-workout carbs alone – this combination of carbs with a little protein also helps enhance protein synthesis, too.

When should I eat protein?

Trick question… You should always eat protein. (You want a summer booty, don’t you?)

In either endurance or strength training, if your goal is to develop stronger muscles in order to maximize efficiency, power and/or stamina, overlooking the 20 minute window for replenishment with the optimized ratio of carbs-to-protein for recovery will be counterproductive to your goals.

Higher protein post-workout options can certainly be beneficial, but it’s best to wait 20 to 40 minutes after consuming your 3:1 to 4:1 carb-to-protein post-workout snack for best results.

You’ll still get your post-workout, muscle-building protein within an hour of your workout, but you’ll have given your body time to make to most of the carbs to restock its fuel stores as a reward for your patience.

Got it?

Drink up my friends.

Coach Graham



Do you have any hidden talents?

The CrossFit Warm-up

3 rounds of 10-15 reps of:  
Samson Stretch (15-30 seconds)
Overhead Squat with PVC  

Overhead Squat

Four sets of:
Overhead Squats x 5 reps
Rest 30 seconds
Pull-Ups x Max reps
Rest 3 minutes

Metcon (Time)

Complete for time:

10, 9, 8, 7, 6, 5, 4, 3, 2, 1 Reps of:

KB Swings
Handstand Pushups

Out of Town WOD

10-9-8-7-6-5-4-3-2-1 for time
Sit ups
Run 100m


CrossFit Journal: The Performance-Based Lifestyle Resource