14 Foods You Should Eat After a Workout
Losing weight and building lean, strong muscles is not that hard, not when you have the right foods by your side. Eating the right foods will restore your declined energy levels, help your muscles to recover better, and reduce the calorie intake throughout the day.
But what are these right foods that we are talking about? How about we start off by recommending you 14 awesome and delicious post-workout foods that you should not miss out on?
Why eating after a workout is important?
If you are trying to lose weight, then a post-workout meal might sound a bit counterintuitive; however, at times like these, you have to remind yourself that a post-workout meal is highly important. A quality post-workout meal will help you replace the calories that you have burned throughout the workout, recharging your body with energy that it needs to go through the rest of the day, and help your aching muscles to recover better and faster while growing stronger and stronger (1).
But what are you supposed to be eating exactly? Are you allowed to enjoy just any food that you might think of? Or are there some recommendations that you should take into consideration while choosing your post-workout meal? Of course, there are – there are exactly 14 recommended foods that we would like to discuss and explain their importance for your post-workout meal. By carefully combining these foods, you will be able to provide your body with the needed amounts of carbs, healthy fats, and protein efficiently.
14 Foods you should eat after a workout
There is a variety of fruits for you to choose from! This delicious energy source offers healthy carbs that will restore your energy sources efficiently so that you would not be feeling tired all day long. The usual two servings of fruit will provide around 20-30 gr of useful carbs. If you are looking to build strong muscles, the recommended carbs serving is around 100 gr a day, so you would need something more besides fruit to combine it with to get your needed carbs. Still, the fruit is a great start.
Some of the best post-workout fruit choices would be cherries, peaches, apples, raspberries, strawberries, and grapes. All of these fruits are tasty and most importantly – packed with good amounts of useful carbs. Plus – apples are considered to satisfy the feeling of hunger quite efficiently, so they serve as a great snack until your next meal. Cherries will help your muscles to recover faster (2).
One great reason to treat your body with a tasty bowl of oatmeal is the great amount of slowly-digesting carbs that are found in it. Oatmeal promises to help restore the wasted glycogen stores in your muscles and your liver, allowing your body to recharge. Plus, oatmeal is a great source of slow-digestive fiber, which will help soothe your hunger until you are ready for the next meal on the menu (3, 4).
Simply add a bit of almond milk and some of the fruits that we mentioned earlier to produce a delicious oatmeal bowl that you will enjoy. Who says that oatmeal is only meant to be eaten during breakfast? There is no reason why you would not enjoy it after your workout as well!
Chocolate milk surprises us all with the perfect ratio of carbs to protein – approximately 4 to 1, serving as one of the best recovery beverages on the face of the planet Earth. This delicious beverage will remind you of your childhood while providing a chance for effective muscle recovery and energy refuel. Enjoy in a tall glass of chocolate milk and treat your body right with this delicious and healthy beverage.
A study published in the Medicine and Sports Science showed that chocolate milk is the perfect recovery drink for anyone who is involved in endurance sports (5). And a recent study comparing the effects of chocolate milk and carbohydrate supplements in adolescent athletes found out that chocolate milk was a more effective and appropriate post-workout supplement rather than the use of carbohydrate supplements (6).
Plain old cottage cheese is one of the best protein sources that you can find. In 100 gr of cottage cheese, there is an amazing 12 gr of clean protein that your muscles would sure use (7)! It will keep your feelings of hunger low, and offer a great taste. In addition, cottage cheese contains a valuable amino acid known as leucine. Leucine is known to promote muscle synthesis, which will only lead to your muscles growing stronger and better (8).
Serving plain cottage cheese along some carrot or cucumber sticks would be the perfect post-workout snack. You can also combine cottage cheese with other foods to create satisfying and delicious meals throughout the week.
So far, we only recommended foods that are known to be good sources of either carbs or protein, so here is one food that is a great source of healthy fats as no other! We are talking about the variety of fatty fish for you to choose from – from tuna and salmon, to sardines and rainbow trout – these Omega-3 rich foods will serve as a great lunch or dinner choice.
If your workout is before your lunch or dinner, then you should definitely rely on fatty fish in combination with some fresh salad to satisfy your daily protein needs which will only shorten the recovery time for your muscles. Plus, think of all of the healthy fats that you are about to introduce to your diet. Not to worry – the healthy fats will not interfere with your weight loss process, not if you know how to incorporate them right (9).
Greek yogurt is probably one of the best protein-enriched foods that you can find. Around 200 gr of Greek yogurt contains 17 to 20 gr of clean protein, which will satisfy a good portion of your daily protein requirements (10). Around 20 gr of protein has been found to be sufficient for ultimate muscle synthesis.
Combine Greek yogurt with some raspberries, strawberries, or blueberries, along with some nuts and seeds, and there you have it – the perfect snack that will diminish your hunger and treat your aching muscles. You will never want to try another snack again, not when you have Greek yogurt to rely on (11).
Even when you are trying to lose weight, that is no reason why you would need to say no to your favorite on-the-go snack – turkey jerky! This is a quick and easy snack that will provide good protein when you simply do not have the time for anything else. Just make sure to choose a sodium nitrite free brand, and you are good to go.
Whey protein shake
Investing in a good, quality whey protein shake is one of the best things that you can do for your workout. Whey is a fast-absorbing protein that consumed immediately after the workout will supply your muscles with the amino acids that they crave at times like these. The whey protein shake will help your muscles to grow and develop faster and more efficiently. Plus, it will reduce the calorie intake throughout the day, making your weight loss process more effective (12).
For the best results possible, we would recommend carrying your whey protein shake to the gym with you. That way, you can enjoy it the first chance you get after you have finished your workout for the day.
Because during your workout, you are sweating that only means one thing – you are losing water. The best way to protect yourself against dehydration is to rehydrate your body before, during, and after your workout. And the best way to do that is not by choosing a sugary drink, and it is by choosing water as your first choice. Make sure that you rehydrate your body well, by drinking enough water right after the workout and for the rest of the day.
As if we needed another reason why we would enjoy eating avocados! As it turns out, because of the major amounts of potassium that are to be found in avocados, avocados find themselves on our list of post-workout foods! A half avocado contains approximately 488 mg of potassium!
Potassium has been scientifically proven to prevent muscle cramps post-workout. Let’s face it – nobody likes having to deal with muscle cramps while our muscles are aching because of all of the quality workout that they have just gone through (13). So prevent those muscle cramps by simply introducing enough potassium in your body with the help of avocado. Allow yourself to enjoy in some avocado on toast, baked avocado with egg, or plain avocado with lemon juice.
Eggs on toast or scrambled eggs should serve as a great post-workout meal taking into consideration how much protein eggs contain. If you are a morning person and like to do your workout before you get any breakfast, we recommend exploring the world of different egg recipes to find the one that is working the best for you. That way, you get to enjoy in delicious protein and start your morning right, without struggling with overeating later since protein will keep you full.
Prepare your own combination of nuts, to gain the advantages from almonds, walnuts, macadamia nuts, Brazil nuts, and many others. Even the good old peanuts will serve as a great post-workout snack that you can enjoy in on your way back from the gym. Once again, you have a great opportunity to enjoy in the healthy fats that are to be found in the variety of nuts and let them benefit your muscles and entire body (14).
Paired with some lean meats such as chicken or turkey, potatoes can represent the meal of the day, offering great amounts of healthy carbs, along with the protein and healthy fats that you would get from the lean meats. Sweet potatoes are especially rich in healthy carbs, along with the much needed Vitamin A and fiber. And boiled potatoes have scored the highest when tested for their satiety, which means that they are the best food to satisfy your hunger in the long run (15).
Leafy green vegetables
Combining your favorite leafy green vegetables in order to create the perfect post-workout salad is a great idea. The reason why that is, is the fact that leafy green vegetables are filled with useful antioxidants, in addition to great amounts of potassium, which we mentioned how and why important it is. Leafy green vegetables will help you reduce the inflammation that has occurred as a result of your hard workout while providing your body with other needed nutrients.
As you can see, there is a variety of healthy foods options that offer healthy carbs, fats, and protein that are meant to improve your diet in the long run. Simply combine the given foods from this list to make delicious meals and snacks that you and your family will enjoy it while on your path toward weight loss!