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Powerlifting Post-Workout Nutrition

Many of my workouts are strength-oriented: Low reps, and often low sets. (3x3, 5,4,3,2,1, singles and doubles, etecetera).

How should I eat after such workouts? Right now I just eat a normal meal (Zone/Paleo). It seems to be working just fine (i.e., recovery is satisfactory), but could I do better?

I’m no expert but nobody else had bothered to reply yet. I’ve been lead to believe that after all weight lifting workouts it was beneficial to drink a Surge-like beverage for all sorts of reasons like minimizing the cortisol response and replacing muscle glycogen stores. Anybody else with a bit more know how?

Thanks for the reply. I titled this post “Post-workout Nutrition for Workouts without Glycogen Depletion” or something like that, because I wanted to get across that I’m doing workouts that don’t significantly deplete muscle glycogen, and because I’m not a powerlifter (i.e., limit strength irrespective of strength:bodyweight ratio is not my goal), but the title was edited.

So, do you need an insulin spike post-workout even if you’re not depleting glycogen, or can you fully recover from low-rep, low-set, sometimes high-intensity training on good old fashioned whole food?


Depends on what your goals are. If it’s muscle gain with minimal fat then aim for a constant mild to moderate energy surplus throughout the day. Of course when you exercise, energy output goes up and you have to eat more to maintain that surplus. Like you are saying, what and how much depends on how much work you do and over how long.

If your energy output is low (low reps, longer rests, short workout). Then your current meal plan may be adequate.

If your output is high but workout is short then a small to medium, hi-GI meal may be more beneficial.

IMO longer workouts can really benefit from sipping a Surge type drink throughout. This keeps your energy topped up and body out of the dreaded catabolic state that results during an energy defecit.

That’s the theory but you have to determine the what, when, and how much. Keep a food log and compare results otherwise you’re just guessing.

No matter what goal you are lifting for (bodybuidling, power lifting, Olympic lifting) you want to start recovery ASAP after the workout. Any w/o at more than 60% intensity and lasting longer than 15 minutes can create a glycogen deficit (as ATP stores are used up, your body synthesizes glycogen into more ATP to fuel further activity). Therefore, it’s suggested you ALWAYS consume a PWO shake (malodextrin or dextrose + whey).