10 Best Things to Eat After Your Workouts

When it comes to foods or drinks for after a hard workout, everyone these days knows about getting in protein and carbohydrates within thirty minutes to an hour after they finish. You can go almost anywhere on the web and you will be told to take in this or that and how many calories of each that you should have.

The problem is that it is different for everyone; do you want to lose weight? Are you trying to gain muscle mass or strength? Do you need to gain a few pounds? Are you looking to get more definition out of your muscles?

These are just a few things that can change each individual’s nutrition plan. The gylcemic index is a great tool to use when trying to decide on whether you should eat something or not. Early morning and post workout your body can use simple/high gylcemic foods because of the rapid release of glucose. During the day and later at night complex/low gylcemic foods are better for stored energy. Try it yourself and see what works best for you. Here are some rule of thumb foods and drinks to have after your workout:

1) Ginger

In 2010 in the Journal of Pain study, Ginger was described as an anti-inflammatory root that eases post exercise muscle pain. It’s also been shown to reduce joint stiffness and swelling. Try having this in a soup or mixed with other fruits as vegetables juices.

2) Tomato Juice

Tomato Juice

When working out and sweating you lose electrolytes. You could replace them with high sugar sports drink or you could follow up some water with a glass of tomato juice. One, eight-ounce glass of juice delivers 6 ½ times the sodium and 15 times the potassium you’d get from your standard sports drink without the high levels of sugar.

3) Stir Fry

A post-workout meal should include a lean protein source (for muscle repair) along with a whole grains (to replenish glycogen, the carbohydrate stored in muscle tissue, which serves as a primary fuel source during exercise), plenty of produce (to replenish nutrients), a healthy fat source (for healing and circulation) and of course, more fluid (to hydrate). A great post-workout meal is stir-fry made with chicken, shrimp, whole-grain rice and a variety of veggies topped with sliced almonds.

4) Fruit Smoothie

kiwi smoothie

Tasty and refreshing, a fruit smoothie is a great recovery food. Your best bet is to make your own using frozen fruit from the grocery store. Here are some of my favorites to use: chilled bananas, strawberries or mango slices, chilled grape juice or any fruit nectar, fat-free yogurt, and honey (optional). It is also a good source of fiber, vitamins and minerals such as vitamin C, calcium and iron.

5) Peanut Butter and Honey sandwich

A simple post-workout snack consists of peanut butter and honey on two slices of whole-wheat bread. Although this snack is higher in calories, carbs and fat than most other options, it is also more filling than many other choices. It’s an easy choice using most things the average person already has on their shelves.

6) Chocolate Milk

Chocolate Milk

1% chocolate milk is one of the best recovery foods out there. Two cups of this sweet stuff provide you with 320 calories, 52 grams of carbs, 16 grams of protein, and 5 grams of fat. This option contains some saturated fat and is fairly high in sugar, but as an occasional glycogen-boosting drink after a hard workout, chocolate milk is a great choice. Have this only once or twice a week. If you make a habit of chugging down some chocolate milk every time you workout, you might workout more but will be gaining some weight due to chocolate overload.

7) Whole Wheat pita with grilled chicken

This tasty Mediterranean post-workout mini-meal will provide you with all the necessary ingredients to help your muscles rebuild and recover. Half a medium grilled chicken breast provides approximately 30 grams of protein combined with the energy-replenishing whole grain carbs found in the pita and you’ve got a post-workout masterpiece. Added bonus: Feta cheese is particularly rich in conjugated linoleic acid which is a fatty acid and antioxidant that may aid in abdominal fat loss. Add some vegetables and some of your other favorites to complete the meal. This can be made the night before for a quick and easy grab after your workout.

8) Turkey Jerky with Oranges

If you are on the go constantly, having 1 oz. of Turkey Jerky provides 15 grams of muscle rebuilding protein. The amino acids in protein are necessary to rebuild muscle tissue post-workout. Jerky gives you the protein you need without the added sugars and fat found in many protein bars. Combine tasty jerky with an orange (loaded in potassium) to replace electrolytes lost during exercise and fuel your next workout.

9) Whole Wheat bread with tuna

Wheat bread with tuna

Tuna is low in fat (when canned in water, rather than oil), provides heart-healthy omega-3 fatty acids, and is rich in protein. Omega-3 fatty acids may also boost metabolism. Skip the mayo and try using a dollop of Greek yogurt or a combo of lemon juice, mustard, salt and pepper to keep it nice and lean. Pair your tuna with a piece of toasted, high-fiber whole wheat bread or crackers for an energy-boosting crunch.

10) Turkey Chili

Chili is a complete and balanced mini-meal that you can enjoy soon after exercising. Choose lean or extra lean ground turkey for an excellent source of protein that curbs your hunger without loading you down with fat. Black beans provide carbs to refill your energy stores and fiber that will help you stay full post workout.

About the author


Tony is a strength and conditioning coach, whose passion truly is anything fitness or sport oriented. When away from the gym or the fields, he's a home body who loves spending time with his dog Norbert.

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