Stupid Easy Paleo’s Steph Gaudreau on Post Workout Nutrition, Fueling Athletes and What Really Pisses Her Off

Steph Gaudreau is a holistic nutritionist, weightlifting coach, best-selling author, and founder of She’s also become a great friend of Athlete Daily. Steph has an interesting background, first as a competitive CrossFit athlete and now as a weightlifter. She also is the founder of the Women’s Strength Summit. 


Athlete Daily: So let’s start with post workout nutrition. What’s your philosophy on that?

“Post workout is usually pretty easy to figure out…the one thing I like to tell people with that is, because everybody says ‘I need to eat in exactly 15 minutes after I’ve trained or I’m going to miss the window.’ First of all, if you’re still in a sympathetic state from training, you’re drooling on yourself, you’re sitting in a sweat angel on the floor, you’re breathing hard still. Maybe you did something that’s highly intense and you feel a little nauseous—don’t force yourself to eat.

Your body is not going to be receptive to it. You kind of have to wait until you come down off that, at least give yourself a few minutes— maybe 10 or 15 depending on how intense your workout was —and just come back down to normal breathing. You’re not pouring with sweat, you’re starting to feel a little better before you try and eat something because your body is going to be more receptive and you’re going to be starting to return to a parasympathetic state. So that’s the one thing that I feel like people try to force it, because they’re like ‘the rule is eat within 15 minutes!’”

Athlete Daily: What is the ideal timeframe post workout to get refuel?

“I like to say around 30 minutes, try to get something in, but if you know, ‘Hey, I’m going straight from the gym to work. Or I’m going straight from the gym to do some errands, then you may not be going right home and it might be three hours later, you have a training session the next morning, and now you’re sort of delaying your recovery.

The time component does matter a little bit, so I try to get people to be cognizant of that. If it’s 32 minutes later you’re fine! But if its 4-5 hours later, and you still haven’t eaten anything that can be a problem, especially if you’re training the next day. Recovery happens on a continuum.

It’s not just, ‘I missed the 30 minute window I’m never going to recover’. Your body is going to recover naturally. And you’re obviously going to get some recovery when you have your next big meal and all that stuff.”

Athlete Daily: Can you elaborate a little about what people should be eating after workouts? And how much?

“Post workout should be protein and carbohydrate. And, ideally, a source of carbohydrate that’s rich in glucose. So [for] a high glucose containing fruit—of which there aren’t ton—bananas and pineapple are the two that come to mind. Things like berries and apples are actually pretty high in fructose, which the body is going to process in a different way, and it’s going to be much harder to replace the glycogen from your muscles that you just used to do Filthy Fifty or whatever workout or strength training you’re doing.

A glucose-rich sources of carbohydrate: the fruits I mentioned, sweet potatoes, white potatoes, white rice, to some extent—hard squash.I say to an extent because I had a client that told me ‘I eat butternut squash post-WOD’. That’s good but you’re going to need to eat a lot of it. And if you’re using a post-workout recovery mix, see how many carbohydrates it has.

I have some athletes that add maltodextrin, [carb supplement] which is fine, I get it, people are busy they can’t always sit down and eat some real food, and for a lot of people the drinks are a lot more palatable and they’re just easier to take. Also, do what you can to keep post workout pretty low in fat. So adding a half a can of coconut milk to your shake, that’s going to slow the emptying of your stomach which is going to slow digestion.

An ideal ratio would be 2:1 in terms of grams, so 2:1 carbs to protein. If I take a scoop of protein and I know that’s 25 grams of protein, I should plan on having somewhere around 50 grams of carbohydrates. And again, it’s not set in stone…but somewhere in that realm, because you’re more insulin sensitive at that point, and you should be able to take advantage of that, to shuttle more glucose into your muscle and store it there for later.”

Athlete Daily: You mentioned white rice and white potato Do you still get a lot of ‘how can you train and still eat Paleo?

“It’s really interesting how we are seeing a lot of fads come and go…like when CrossFit first started, it was all about the Zone, and then it was Paleo, and then it was Zone, and now we are seeing a shift towards [counting] macros.

I don’t think there’s anything wrong with being aware of how much you’re eating. Because a lot of people tend to undereat. A lot of athletes especially tend to undereat. They’re not cognizant of the fact that [they undereat].

Or we have a lot of people that say, ‘I train and I compete, but I want to be super lean and jacked so I’m going to cut calories and I’m going to try to control what I eat and really keep it at a minimum’. And I’m like ‘If you train, it’s a not a ‘Oh, if I feel like it I have a post-workout shake’. [No] it’s an extra meal that you’ve earned, because the more you train, the more you need to eat, in general. And I think a lot of people, especially girls don’t get that.

It’s important for people to understand that when they’re training hard—and you may never actually compete—in your sport, and you may train just as hard as people who do [you’re still an athlete]. I hear a lot of people say, ‘Well I’m not an athlete because I don’t compete ever.’”

Athlete Daily: Or they aren’t going to the CrossFit Games?

“Right. You’re still training  2-plus hours a day, 5-6 days a week. You sacrifice time, and probably money—because you’re not getting paid to do what you do—it’s a huge part of your life. It’s interesting because you’ll see people define an athlete as somebody who does what they do full-time, or they get paid for what they do.

So, there’s some interesting definitions of what people call an athlete and I get kind of pissed off at that stuff. Because you’re going to have somebody that trains three hours a day but yet it’s not their full-time job or they’re not at an elite level so they’re not considered an athlete? And I think that’s where we get into a little bit of hot water and we don’t help people be the healthiest they can be. Because they’re like ‘Well I’m not an athlete so I don’t have to pay attention to these other things.’ [And I would say] you are an athlete.”


Want more? Read Steph’s Top 10 Tips for Getting Heathlier, Healthier and Harder to Kill HERE.