How Important Are Post-Training Carbs?

If you’re doing regular weight training to gain muscle or strength then immediate post training carbs aren’t majorly important as long as you hit your daily calorie/macro targets.

The “gym bro” community might say that you need to get your carbs in during the so-called window of gains – 30 minutes right after you’ve trained.

The argument for this is usually to help with recovery by replenishing glycogen stores.

But in reality most people who perform a weights session don’t significantly deplete their glycogen stores, not enough that they need an immediate hit of carbs for recovery anyway.

Just eating the right amount of carbs, protein and fat over the course of the day will usually do just fine.

When it comes to nutrition for gaining size/strength, hitting your daily nutrition targets is the main thing you need to get right if you want to make progress.

That being said it’s not a bad thing to get into the habit of having a meal or snack containing both protein and carbs in the 1-2 hours after your training session (I definitely do it).

Just know that having carbs right after the gym isn’t going to make or break your gains.

If you’re aiming to lose body fat by performing aerobic and/or HIIT-style training alongside lifting weights then getting some carbs in after your session may be beneficial for recovery.

In this case consuming 10-20% of your daily carbohydrate intake in the hour or two after your workout would be a good place to start.

But again the primary thing to get right is hitting your daily nutrition targets – the timing of your carb intake won’t make a difference to your fat loss if you’re going over your daily calorie target on a regular basis.

So in summary…

Weight training to gain size and strength?

Consuming immediate post training carbs isn’t hugely important as long as you hit your daily nutrition targets.

Aerobic and/or HIIT-style training alongside lifting weights to lose body fat?

Consuming post training carbs can be useful for recovery but hitting your nutrition targets and being in a slight calorie deficit is still the most important thing.

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Mike Waywell