Is a post-workout snack always necessary?

Food and nutrition

Published on 28 October 2020
by Isabelle Huot

Does the following tip sound familiar? “To maximize recovery, have a snack that includes carbs and protein.” Although having a snack after working out can help repair muscle damage, post-training snacks are not necessary for everyone. 


Snacks don’t help when:


  • You’re doing low- to moderate-intensity exercise
  • You’re working out to lose weight and expended a small amount of energy during your session
  • You ate before training and don’t feel hungry after
  • You’re planning to eat shortly after working out


Remember, the point of a snack is to maximize recovery. If you just did a high-intensity workout or if your glycogen levels are low (for example, after a lot of cardio), a snack is warranted.


The anabolic window myth

Not so long ago, eating a snack within 20 to 30 minutes of working out was recommended to help you take advantage of the so-called “anabolic window.” This window is defined as a period of time when the body is particularly predisposed to muscle protein synthesis. However, the latest sport nutrition data calls this theory into question. In fact, food intake in the hours following a workout (not just the first 30 minutes) is enough to bring about muscle protein synthesis. Only people who train twice a day benefit from eating a snack immediately after training.



Isabelle Huot
Doctor in nutrition