If you’re constantly wondering what to eat after a workout, there are plenty of other nutritious options aside from the perennial protein bar and sports drink. Your choice of post-workout food depends on what you want to achieve in your training.
Whether you are working out to build muscle or lose weight, eating something nutritious after working out is essential. Read on to find out the best post-workout foods that can help you achieve your fitness goals.
What to Eat After a Workout to Get the Most Out of Your Training
In this article:
- What Protein to Eat After Workout?
- When Is the Best Time to Eat After a Workout?
- What to Eat After a Workout for Weight Loss?
- What to Eat After Working Out to Build Muscle?
- What Is the Ideal Post-Workout Food for Vegans?
- What Is the Best Workout Beverage?
Your muscles need to recover after exercising so it’s important to grab a healthy post-workout snack packed with nutrients to help replenish your energy. The ideal post-workout snack should be a combination of healthy carbohydrates, fats, and protein.
What Protein to Eat After Workout?
Protein helps your body build and repair muscles after a workout. Here are some protein-rich foods that make for a great post workout meal or snack:
- Chicken breast
- Greek yogurt
- Grass-fed beef
Carbohydrates are also essential after working out because they help your body regain its energy. Listed below are some “good” carbs you can eat after working out:
- Sweet potatoes
- Whole wheat bread
When Is the Best Time to Eat After a Workout?
The best time to eat your post-workout snack is between 15-30 minutes. Try not to exceed an hour. Your body will need an immediate source of energy after a strenuous activity so make sure to rehydrate and grab something to eat after working out.
What to Eat After a Workout for Weight Loss?
If your goal is to lose weight, avoid refined carbohydrates and processed foods. Skip post-workout snacks that are high in fat and sugar as well.
Here’s a list of sugars to stay away from:
- White sugar, Table Sugar, Confectioners Sugar
- Corn Syrup, High Fructose Corn Syrup
- Agave Syrup
- Brown Sugar
- Rice Bran Syrup
- Glucose Syrup
- Malt Syrup
- Tapioca Syrup
- Carob Syrup
- Fruit Juice Concentrates
- Dextrose, Dextrin, Maltodextrin
For weight loss, here are foods to avoid that are high in refined carbs:
- All desserts (excluding whole fruit)
- Ice Cream, Froyo, Sherberts
- Most Bread
- Many Crackers
- Corn Chips
- Tortillas (unless 100% stone-ground whole grain)
- Battered/Breaded Food
- Dough (pie crust, phyllo, etc)
- Sweetened Sodas
- Most cereals
- Sweet Wine & Liqueurs
- most pasta, couscous, noodles
- Jellies, Preserves, James
Beware of workout foods packed with sugar and calories. Instead of munching on a protein bar with at least 220 calories, opt for something lighter and healthier like bananas, hard-boiled eggs, or a glass of milk.
Avoid sugary drinks as well. Water is always your best option, but you can also drink a healthy protein shake made with animal or plant-based protein powder, fruit, and milk after an intense workout.
Here are some great foods that are LOW in refined carbs and added sugars that are great for filling you up while losing weight:
- Frozen/Fresh Beef, Pork, Chicken, Seafood
- Unsweetened Pickles
- Frozen/Fresh Fruit
- Soy Milk
- Whole Grains (like whole grain rice, barley, quinoa)
- Unsweetened Tomato Sauce
- Unflavored Nuts and Seeds
- Herbs and Spices
- Unsweetened Coconut
- Unsweet Coffee, Tea, Sparkling Water
- Unsweetened Salsa
- Most Red Wine, Dry White Wine
What to Eat After Working Out to Build Muscle?
If your workout goal is to build muscle, it is crucial to eat the right amount of protein at the right times. This will not only aid in building muscle mass and strength but will also help improve your general health.
Eggs, meat, whey, vegetables, and grains are excellent sources of protein. These protein-packed foods should be consumed before and after your workout.
It’s also essential to consume “good” carbs to replenish the glycogen, or energy, your muscles burned during your workout. Foods packed with high-quality protein, carbohydrates, and nutrients include yogurt, soy milk, lean meat, and fresh fruit.
What Is the Ideal Post-Workout Food for Vegans?
Meat and animal products are not the only sources of protein. For vegan fitness buffs, lentils, chickpeas, quinoa, tofu, chia seeds, and tempeh are all excellent protein sources.
Fruits and vegetables can also re-energize your body after exercising. A glass of green smoothie or Greek yogurt topped with nuts and fruits are great vegan options for post-workout fuel.
What Is the Best Workout Beverage?
If you are doing light exercises, water is enough. You may add lemon slices, mint leaves, and cucumbers into your water for added flavor.
For those doing more strenuous activities for longer periods of time, an electrolyte drink is recommended. Just make sure to check the label of your chosen beverage to avoid extra calories and sugar.
Aside from making smart food choices after working out, you should also pay attention to your overall nutrition to get optimal results. Learn about quick and healthy recipes with this video:
These are just some ideas on what to eat after a workout. Remember, your choice of food or beverage after working out should be a combination of healthy protein and good carbs.
Post-workout food should be nutritious and should energize your body, not laden with empty calories and sugar. Choosing the right post-workout fuel can help you get the most out of your training and achieve your fitness goals!
Want to learn more about the ideal workout and nutrition? Find out the best diet and training for you with this free 1-minute quiz.