“What should I eat after I workout?” is one of the most asked questions in fitness. This is second only to “how much should I work out?” and “what should I eat to be healthy?” The reason it’s so often asked is simple: information overload. There are so many diets, nutrition facts, and studies out that it’s hard to know what to follow. One website says this, one book says that, and suddenly, you’re back at square one because all the answers contradict each other.
Instead of asking foodies, fitness instructors, or people who can only speak to what works for their bodies, I researched the facts and stalked the experts to cut through the noise and tell you what we should actually be eating after a workout. Here’s what I found.
What we should really be eating after a workout
As your Google searches, roommate, mother, and Whole30 cookbook may have told you, getting your protein fix after a workout is non-negotiable. Protein replenishes the body and gives it what it needs to rebuild muscles. Which in turn reduces soreness and the risk of injury.
What goes great with protein? Carbs. If you’re on the go after a morning workout, grab an apple with peanut butter or a hard-boiled egg with an orange. Both options contain carbs and protein! If you’re eating dinner after an evening workout, have some chickpea pasta with veggies, which has protein, carbs, and fibre to keep you full until morning.
Protein and carbohydrates aside, the biggest thing to be consuming post-workout is water. If you spend most of your workout sweating (think hot yoga or running), you’re losing water, sodium, and a slew of other electrolytes. The best way to avoid fatigue, muscle cramps, and dizziness is to have a post-workout beverage that rehydrates your body and refills your electrolyte stores.
So, what’s on the menu post-workout? I’ll break it down for you:
- Water to properly maintain energy levels and electrolyte balance
- Protein for muscle recovery
- Carbohydrates to replenish energy stores
What NOT to ear post-workout
Knowing what not to eat can make choosing what to eat post-workout meal easier. Some foods are obvious, but others, not so much.
The obvious: soda, sugar, or processed/packaged “foods”. Your body is in need of replenishment after a workout, and fuelling it with unhealthy foods takes away from all of the hard work you just did while exercising. Obviously.
Sugar, of course, lives in candy and treats, but it also hides in smoothies, juices, and any type of bar (protein or otherwise). Plain and simple: These foods will not replenish your body.
Stay away from foods that are tough on our digestive system, like spicy foods. Instead, opt for foods that are rich in vitamins, minerals, and macronutrients like protein, healthy fats, and carbs.
What are some good examples of post-workout meals and snacks?
Greek or dairy-free yogurt with sunflower seeds and berries is the ultimate go-to. These foods are full of essential vitamins and minerals that are needed after a workout. Some other options include whole-grain toast with avocado and sea salt, or a smoothie with fruit, vegetables, nut butter, and seeds.
And for our pre-dinner exercisers, whip up some baked or grilled salmon or chicken after to eat with a spinach salad or even try these bison butternut squash bowls.
Got anything you’d like to add? Perhaps a healthy post-workout snack recipe? Please leave it in the comments below