Food & nutrition

What to eat after a workout

Consuming the right nutrients after you exercise is just as important as what you eat before. If you’re feeling unsure about what to eat after a workout, here’s our detailed guide to optimal nutrition after workouts.

What to eat after a workout

Consuming the right nutrients after you exercise is just as important as what you eat before. If you’re feeling unsure about what to eat after a workout, here’s our detailed guide to optimal nutrition after workouts.

Why is post-workout nutrition important?

During a workout, your muscles use up their glycogen stores to fuel your body. After your workout, your body attempts to rebuild these glycogen sores in order to repair and regrow muscle proteins. Eating the right things can help to stimulate the growth of new muscle.

What are the benefits of post-workout nutrition?

Eating the right foods after a workout can provide the following benefits:

  • Improved recovery
  • Less muscle soreness
  • Improved immune function
  • Improved bone mass
  • Improved ability to utilize body fat
  • Increased ability to build muscle

When to eat after a workout

The body’s ability to rebuild glycogen and protein is enhanced immediately after exercise. Although the timing doesn’t need to be exact, it’s recommended that you eat a post-workout meal within 45 minutes after exercise.

What foods to eat after a workout

Carbs

Carbohydrates are macronutrients that help the body restore its fuel supply. Eating plenty of carbs is important for people who exercise regularly, especially those who complete intense cardio workouts, such as long-distance running or spinning. Carb-heavy post-workout meals could include things like:

  • Sweet potato
  • Grains
  • Fruits
  • Quinoa
  • Rice
  • Pasta

Protein

Exercise can trigger the breakdown of muscle protein. The rate at which this happens depends on the intensity and type of exercise you do. If you lift heavy weights, for instance, it's crucial to include protein as part of your post-workout nutrition. Consuming a good amount of protein after a workout allows your body to recover the amino acids it needs to repair and rebuild. High-protein foods include things like:

  • Eggs
  • Greek yoghurt
  • Cottage cheese
  • Salmon
  • Chicken
  • Tuna
  • Protein bars or powder

Fats

While fat may slow down the absorption of your post-workout meal, it won't reduce its benefits. It can sometimes be a good idea to limit the amount of fat you eat after exercise, but having a small amount will not affect your recovery. Good fats to include as part of a post-workout meal include:

  • Avocados
  • Nuts
  • Nut butters
  • Full fat yoghurt
  • Cheese

Example post-workout meals

Need some help working out what to eat after a workout? Get inspiration from these tasty, nutritious recipes!

Key Takeaways

Consuming carbs, proteins and some fats can help to encourage muscle protein production and promote recovery. It's also important to replace fluids by drinking before, during and after exercise.