Last Updated on January 26, 2023 by Lori Geurin
Once you get into the flow of going to the gym on a regular basis, you develop an appetite for it. You want to work out harder and faster for next time. You start to see the results you want. And this is a good sign for newcomers because watching the fat melt off your body is very satisfying.
Yet, these initial changes are the body’s first reaction to rigorous exercise, but then it gently adapts. You may feel the need to refuel and renew your energy stores after your workout. And this will help you heal up and be ready for the next session.
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Best Food To Eat After a Workout
Still, this is where many people can head into dangerous territory because they neglect the fact that large meals are the opposite of what you need. So, what exactly is the best food to eat after a workout if you want to lose weight? Or build muscle?
Depending on your specific fitness goals your nutrition may look a little different. But there are some basics that are important for everyone to keep in mind.
The body wants simple molecules at the end of a workout, not complex foods that will take time and energy to break down. So let’s take a look at 3 nutrition tips for post-workout eating. Then we’ll go right into some examples of healthy food to eat after you work out.
But before we get into the nutrition tips I wanted to share this great offer from Find Your Trainer (FYT) for Two Weeks of Personal Training for Free! Your certified trainer personalizes each workout for your goals, body, lifestyle, location, and equipment. Best of all, you can work out anywhere you want – your home, outside, or the gym.
Nutrition Tips For Eating After Your Workout
1. Choose Your Carbs Carefully
Immediately after your workout, eating complex carbohydrates isn’t always the best thing to do. These molecules are multilayered and need time to break down in your stomach.
Because this takes time, it also stops other food molecules from entering your digestive system. This slows the body’s ability to quickly absorb the nutrients it used during exercise, which is important to revitalize.
After an intense workout, have a snack that combines a protein source (such as whey protein powder) with a small number of healthy fats (like nuts or avocados) and a few carbs.
The protein assists with recovery and building new muscle.
Not all carbs are bad for you after the workout. And if you’re an endurance athlete your body will likely need carbohydrates to replenish your glycogen stores.
Unless you’re following a strict keto eating plan, you should be fine eating high-quality carbs, such as
- sweet potatoes
- wild rice
2. Eat Small Meals
After your workout, it’s best to have a meal ready to eat, either at the gym or in your car so you can eat it soon after your workout session.
This meal needs to be small and purely used as a pit stop between your next large meal.
Here you can see that a mix of carbs, protein, and a bit of healthy fat is the best kind of balance you need to refill your body’s needs after a workout. Protein builds muscle, and when you’re exercising your muscle is breaking down at a microscopic level.
You can couple the protein with healthy carbs like fruits, such as bananas, apples, and peaches. A good healthful mix should get you to a larger meal without feeling too hungry and zapped of energy.
Related: How To Boost Your Energy Levels And Fight Fatigue
3. Stay Hydrated With Water
Drink plenty of water to maintain your health while working out. Purified water replenishes your body and provides sustained energy before and after a workout.
If your workout is especially long or intense you may want to consider adding an electrolyte drink or lemon water.
And, now, on to specific wholesome food options…
Healthy Food To Eat After A Workout
Below are a few examples of healthy snacks and meals you can eat after an intense workout. They’re all easy to prepare. And you can pack many of them in your gym bag if you’re on the go.
- sweet potato, tuna, and grass-fed butter
- oatmeal, peanut butter, and a banana
- protein shake with nut butter, chia seeds, and berries
- sprouted whole-grain bread with nut butter and banana
- grilled chicken, pita with hummus
- salmon, quinoa, and blueberries
- rice crackers, avocado, and turkey breast
- Greek yogurt, fruit, and nuts
- brown rice, chicken breast, and olives
- scrambled eggs, sweet potatoes, and avocado
- peanut butter and honey on sprouted grain bread
- chocolate whole milk and a handful of pecans
Related: Top 20 Best Healthy Snacks
Summary: Healthy Food To Eat Post-Workout
After a hard workout, your body requires excellent nutrition. Choosing the right foods helps replenish your muscles and restore glycogen levels lost during exercise.
The best post-workout meals are small and include quality protein and carbs plus a small number of healthy fats. And always remember to stay hydrated before and after your workouts by drinking plenty of pure water.
What do you eat and drink after a workout?
Share your thoughts below. I want to hear from you!
If you enjoyed this post about healthy food to eat after a workout, you’ll want to check out:
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- Paleo Diet Quick Guide: What To Eat And What To Avoid
- 20 Reasons To Try A Kettlebell Workout
- 4 Essentials Before You Start A Health Or Fitness Program
14 thoughts on “Healthy Food To Eat After A Workout”
Thanks for the post workout meal ideas! I am always in the look out for more variety.
Hey, you’re so welcome! Enjoy!
these are some great tips to keep in mind! especially now that I’m back to being more active!
I’m glad you think so – thanks! And good for you for being more active! #inspiration
Yes! Always looking for new ideas. My go to is a grilled chicken salad with all the fixings but I need to mix it up a bit!
That sounds amazing! I know what you mean though…I tend to get into eating a few things and will eat them day after day until I get bored and move on to something else. I hope you found some new ideas here. Thanks, Brittany!
These look like such healthy post workout food idea’s! I will have to try some of these.
Oh, that’s great, Shayla! I’d love to know which ones are your favorites! 🙂
Thank you for the meal ideas! I’m always looking for post workout food ideas!
Absolutely, Sarah! I hope you’ve found some new ones here.
Yumm! i eat oatmeal every morning I love it so much!
That’s great, Bella! Oatmeal is so yummy! I’ve been doing the keto thing for quite a while now, but before that, I loved my oatmeal topped with cinnamon, a splash of real cream, grass-fed butter, slivered almonds or pecans and a sliced granny smith apple.
Hey Stephanie, Thanks for weighing in on this! I love protein shakes too for this very reason.
Hi Lori, I strictly avoid taking complex carbs after workouts. It makes me feel heavy. It is preferable to have a protein shake.