RICE PUDDING >> what should I eat post-workout?

Oct 23, 2020

Use leftover rice to prepare post-workout rice pudding. Enjoy it as a post-workout snack or load it up with berries and nuts for a complete meal!

What should I eat post-workout? Should I have a post-workout snack? These are common questions and great ones at that! Read on to find out!


To understand how the right foods can help you after exercise, it’s important to understand how your body is affected by physical activity!

When you’re working out, especially at a high intensity, your muscles use up their glycogen stores for fuel. This results in your muscles being partially depleted of glycogen. Glycogen is a storage form of carbohydrate in your muscles. Some of the proteins in your muscles also get broken down and damaged during exercise. Particularly strength training!

After your workout, your body rebuilds its glycogen stores and repair and regrow those muscle proteins. Your body can only effectively rebuild and repair if you offer it the right nutrients soon after your exercise session. It is particularly important to eat carbs to replenish glycogen and protein to repair muscles!

Doing this helps your body:

  • Decrease muscle protein breakdown.
  • Increase muscle protein synthesis (ie. growth)
  • Restore glycogen stores (ie. carb stores in the muscle)
  • Enhance recovery (so you are ready for your next exercise bout!)

PS: Your body prioritizes glycogen restoration over muscle protein synthesis post-workout. This means if your post-workout meal lacks carbohydrates your body either converts the protein you consume or converts your muscles to a form of carbohydrate called glucose to replenish your glycogen stores. This is why we recommend your post-workout snack or meal contains not only protein but carbohydrate, too!


Exercise actually breaks down your muscles and fuelling your body with the right mix of nutrients (including protein!) is part of repairing your muscles and building them back up!

Consuming protein after a workout gives your body the amino acids it needs to repair and rebuild muscles. Studies have shown that anywhere between  20–40 grams of protein seems to maximize the body’s ability to recover after exercise. We typically recommend at least 20g of protein at post-workout meal for women and up to 50g for men.

Bottom-line: protein provides the amino acids necessary to build and repair muscles after a tough workout!


Your body’s glycogen stores are used as fuel during exercise and consuming carbs after your workout helps replenish them.

The rate at which your glycogen stores are used depends on the activity. As a general rule, the higher your heart rate the more glycogen you burn. For example, if you can talk while you exercise you likely aren't burning much glycogen but if you are out of breath or your muscles are burning for a prolonged period you are likely dipping into glycogen stores!

Therefore, we recommend that most athletes prioritize both carbs and protein after a workout to maximize muscle repair and promote glycogen synthesis. By restoring glycogen you will be energized and ready to tackle your next workout session! Some signs your glycogen stores are depleted are feeling like you have no power or stamina in your workouts or feeling like your muscles are slow and heavy.

Eating carbs immediately post-workout to rebuild glycogen stores is most important for people who exercise often, multiple times a day, or at a high intensity.  If you have 1 or 2 days to rest between workouts then this becomes less important because your body has more time to replenish glycogen from the multiple meals you eat between workout sessions!

Bottom-line: including carbohydrates post-workout repairs glycogen and restores blood sugars to optimize energy and enhance performance during your next workout.


Some people avoid fast post-workout thinking that eating fat after a workout slows down digestion and inhibits the absorption of nutrients. While it might be a good idea to limit the amount of fat you eat after a workout to maximize digestion and recovery, including some fats at a post-workout meal won't reduce it's benefits. While we recommend focusing on protein and carbohydrate post-workout, it certainly won't hurt to include a bit of fat, too!

Bottom-line: consider limiting fats immediately post-workout to quicken the absorption of carbs and protein for recovery, however, smaller amounts of fats at your post-workout will do no harm!


As you've know learned, the primary goal of your post-workout meal is to supply your body with the right nutrients for adequate recovery and to maximize the benefits of your workout.

If your ultimate goal is maximizing recovery because you workout multiple times per day then choosing easily digested foods will promote faster nutrient absorption and quicker recovery.

Additionally, minimizing fats will further increase digestion rate as fats tend to slow digestion which is why they keep us so satisfied!

For example, a rice cake is more processed than brown rice and will therefore digest faster to synthesize glycogen. A protein shake will digest more quickly than chicken to repair muscles. So pairing rice cakes and a protein shake as a post-workout snacks offers readily available carbs and proteins to start the recovery process!

However, if you workout one time a day and your goal is optimizing health, body composition, and energy then the finer detail of selecting faster digesting food sources is not a priority. In fact, you may feel more satisfied and energized choosing foods that digest over a prolonged period of time. 

Consider the F4 Four Food Groups that we teach in our 1:1 coaching and group programs. Let's summarize:


Role: to repair glycogen and restore blood sugars to boost energy

Type: choose faster digesting if you are adding a post-workout snack and slower digesting at a post-workout meal. Some examples:

  • Faster digesting: rice cakes, white rice, banana, fruit squeeze, or dried fruit.
  • Slower digesting: brown rice, sweet potatoes, beans and lentils, whole grain toast, oats, or whole fruit.

Amount: consult a Registered Dietitian to determine how much is appropriate for you and your goals.


Role: to rebuild damaged muscles 

Type: choose faster digesting if you are adding a post-workout snack and slower digesting at a post-workout meal. Some examples:

  • Faster digesting: protein shake, protein powder, or protein bar that contains protein powder.
  • Slower digesting: chicken, tofu or tempeh, Greek yogurt, cottage cheese, eggs, or egg whites.

Amount: consult a Registered Dietitian to determine how much is appropriate for you and your goals.


Role: limiting fats immediately post-workout may be ideal as fats do not offer specific nutrients to maximize immediate muscles repair and glycogen synthesize. However, fats support long-term recovery processes (eg. hormones!) and will keep you full longer. For this reason, we recommend including fats at your post-workout meal while still focusing on ample carbs and protein to facilitate immediate recovery processes like glycogen synthesis and muscle repair.

Type: limit fats if you are adding a post-workout snack and include and fat you like at your post-workout meal! Some examples include avocado on toast, ground chia or flax in a smoothie, or nuts or seeds in a yogurt bowl or rice pudding.

Amount: consult a Registered Dietitian to determine how much is appropriate for you and your goals.


Role: we define "volume foods" as vegetables and berries. Volume foods provide antioxidants to support recovery but do not provide an immediate energy source for recovery and are low calories. For this reason, we don't recommend prioritizing volume foods if you are adding a post-workout snack but do recommend including them as part of your post-workout meal.

Type: consider limiting volume foods (ie. veggies and berries) at your post-workout snack but include any veggie or berry you like at your post-workout meal (eg. add berries to rice pudding or enjoy veggies as part of a stir-fry with chicken, rice, and toasted cashews!).

Amount: include 1-2 fist size portions of veggies and berries at your post-workout meal! 

Bottom-line: Consuming a proper amount of carbs and protein after exercise is essential and will  stimulate muscle protein synthesis, improve recovery, and enhance performance during your next workout.


Your body’s ability to use the nutrients you consume to rebuild glycogen and repair muscles increases immediately after you workout.

For this reason, it’s recommended that you consume a combination of carbs and protein as soon as possible after exercising. As a general recommendation, try having a meal within 90 minutes of your workouts. We recommend meals that include the F4 Food Groups that we discuss in our 1:1 coaching and group programs.


  • PROTEIN: to repair muscles (eg. chicken, eggs or egg whites, or protein powder mixed into rice pudding, oats, or a smoothie)
  • CARB: to replenish glycogen (eg. sweet potato, whole grain toast, rice in post-workout rice pudding, or oats)
  • FAT: while we recommend keeping fats lighter post-workout, still add fats for flavour, nutrition, and satiety (eg. avocado on toast, some nuts or seeds in rice pudding, or peanut butter mixed into oatmeal)
  • VOLUME: foods like veggies and berries won't provide energy but will provide important antioxidants to optimize cell recovery (eg. some berries in rice pudding or a small salad)

If your goal is muscle gain or optimizing performance you may benefit from adding a post-workout snack immediately after your workout, too! You might also benefit from a post-workout snack if you aren't able to access a meal within 90 minutes of your workout. This snack will optimize recovery while satisfying your hunger until you are able to enjoy a recovery meal! For example, if you plan to run some errands after the gym you might choose a post-workout snack to ensure you aren't "too hungry" by the time you make it home to enjoy your meal.


  • PROTEIN: faster digesting protein to repair muscles (eg. the protein powder mixed into rice pudding, a Premier protein shake, or the protein powder in a bar like Oatmeal Gold bars in the flavour Natural. These are Courtney's favorite!)
  • CARB: faster digesting carbs to synthesis glycogen (eg. white or brown rice in rice pudding, a banana with a protein shake, or the Oatmeal that is found in a protein bar like Courtney's favorite Oatmeal Gold bars!)

*a post-workout snack isn't always a priority depending on your goals. See the comments above for direction or reach out for support. We make specific workout meal and snack recommendations to our 1:1 coaching clients to ensure they optimize their recovery in relation to their specific goals. 

Bottom-line: consuming a snack immediately post-workout may or not be necessary for your goals, however, we recommend everyone prioritizes a post-workout meal within 90 minutes of a workout to maximize recovery and satisfy the elevated appetite that comes with working out!






  • 1/2 cup unsweetened milk*
  • 1/2 scoop (15g) vanilla protein powder**
  • 1/2 cup rice, cooked**
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • dash of salt
  • OPTIONAL: top with berries, nuts and seeds, or extra unsweetened milk.

* choose any unsweetened milk including cow's milk, almond milk, cashew milk, soy milk or coconut milk all work. We used unsweetened almond milk!

** Depending on your protein and carb needs you can adjust the rice and protein powder serving. For example, some men or a high-intensity, long workout may benefit from a full cup of rice and full scoop of protein powder!


  1. Whisk the unsweetened almond milk with your desired protein powder. For a smoother consistency, use a hand blender.
  2. Then stir in the cooked rice, cinnamon, vanilla, and salt.
  3. Enjoy as is or top with berries and nuts for a more complete meal versus a smaller snack or post-workout snack.
  4. Option: while we typically prepare this recipe with leftover rice prepared with water, you can make a more creamy rice pudding by cooking your rice with your unsweetened milk!


If you follow the F4 Formula we use in our group programs and 1:1 coaching, this recipe could be enjoyed a post-workout snack or adapted to be enjoyed as a meal by adding nuts (fat) and berries (volume). For example:

  • PROTEIN: from the protein powder
  • FIBRE-FILLED CARB: from the brown rice
  • FAT: top it with chopped walnuts or stir in ground flax or chia seeds
  • VOLUME: top the pudding with fresh or frozen strawberries
  • FREEBIES: from the cinnamon, vanilla, and unsweetened milk

The next F4 program launches in January 2021. You can reserve your spot here.


Did you try this recipe or a variation of it? Comment below! Snap a photo and tag us on Instagram so we can see your creation!



Ready to bring the evidence-based nutrition support of our Registered Dietitians into your kitchen? 

Check out Comprehensive Nutrition Coaching!

Hungry for more? 

Get recipes, tips, and updates from the Vitality Nutrition team straight to your inbox!
Don't worry, your information won't be shared.