What to Eat After a Climbing or Bouldering Session?

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You’ve just finished your climbing session and are feeling pumped and in need of some grub. What’s are the best things to eat after a climbing or bouldering workout?

In this article we review:

  • What are the most important macronutrients to eat after a workout?
  • Why is this post-workout meal so important?

Let’s jump right in and start with the what as opposed to the why.

What to Eat After a Climbing or Bouldering Session?

chalk on hands

Having a well balanced climbers diet is indispensable to recovering well, staying injury free and making progress.

After a climbing session you should consume a meal or snack that contains both:

  • Protein
  • Carbohydrates

Within a few hours.

A few hours sounds long? It used to be believed that this should be within 45 minutes of your workout or training session. More recent research suggests within a few hours is acceptable.

Also, let’s not forget that if you ate a protein and carb rich snack before training then you’re probably still benefiting from it.

Having a good mix of carbs and protein was found to enhance glycogen recovery.

The ratio of carbs to protein should be approximately 3 to 1, studies have found. So for 30g of protein that’s 90g of carbs.

Let’s look a bit more closely at the two of these.


proteins for after climbing

Not really surprising to see this one here.

During any physical exercise protein synthesis rates decline and protein breakdown rates rise once we’re finished with our session. These surpass protein synthesis rates and muscles growth or recovery can’t start until this is reversed.

Eating protein does exactly that. 

In short, you eat protein and once your body starts digesting it, protein synthesis starts. Eating it after a training session amplifies this synthesis impact.

For someone engaging in regular physical activity the recommendation is to eat 20-40g protein every 3-4 hours.


carbs for after climbing

During training and burning all that energy you’ll be depleting your bodies glycogen levels .

Eating carbs will help replenish these and you’ll need more or less depending on the type of training you did (for endurance you’ll need more than say a quick sesh!).

Carbs also help keep your insulin levels high which help maximise muscle protein synthesis rates and for longer.

This isn’t as indispensable as once thought though, as only moderate levels of insulin are needed to maximise this.

Eating them will however keep the insulin level higher for longer, which is positive in itself as this suppresses protein or muscle breakdown rates! This is one of the reasons high carb diets are good for gaining muscle mass.

There’s also the benefit that carbs aren’t converted into fatness until glycogen stores have been fully replenished. Bring me spagetti! 

Should I Include Fats?

The question is still open on this one.

It’s generally believed that fats slow down digestion, which may reduced the rate at which your body absorbs nutrients. This however doesn’t necessarily mean that glycogen or protein synthesis will slow down.

In some studies it was shown that:

Is It Really So Important?

important announcement

Some adrenaline/sports junkies say that the most important meal of the day is the post-workout meal.

So is this really true?

We know that when you’re working out you use up your bodies preferred energy source glycogen. Proteins in your muscles are also damaged and broken down in the process.

Giving your body what it needs after this helps your body rebuild and regrow both glycogen and protein.

However if you’re consistently eating a healthy, athletic or strength training diet then you should constantly have the required macronutrients in your body already.

If you haven’t eaten in the past 3 or 4 hours before your workout then it’ll be more important to eat shortly after you’ve finished training as your insulin and protein synthesis will be at an all time low.

If you ate a protein and carb rich meal or snack within an hour or two before your workout then the timing of the post workout meal/snack is less important. Your body will still be breaking this down so the machinery of protein and glycogen synthesis will already be switched on.

In this case the timing of the post workout snack down quickly isn’t as urgent.

Departing Thoughts

After workout meal

If you’re training regularly and pushing your grades then the most important thing in terms of nutrition is to eat a nutrient rich balanced diet including proteins and carbs.

This is true in general and not just restricted to a post-workout snack.

If you want to maximise on your session effort then your post-climbing snack should be protein and carb rich to get some energy and protein back in the system.

If you’re eating correctly throughout the day then it’s not imperative to smash this down in the 45 minutes after your session like used to be believed. However, if you haven’t had protein in the past few hours then you will benefit from eating some within this timeframe.

How important is your post-training snack?

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