What to Eat After a Workout: The Ultimate Guide

Exercise is important for maintaining good health, but what you eat afterwards is also crucial. This guide provides the ultimate list of what to eat after a workout, so you can refuel your body and maximize your results.


Optimizing your post-workout meal can help you get the most out of your workout and reach your fitness goals faster. Post-workout nutrition is just as important as pre-workout nutrition, yet many people neglect this crucial part of the training equation and aren’t reaping the rewards from their hard work.

The body needs fuel to repair and rebuild muscle and replenish energy stores. Eating after a workout helps speed up muscle recovery, reduce soreness, increase strength and promote general health and well-being. What you eat post-workout should depend on the type of exercise you just completed (resistance training, cardio or an endurance race; low intensity or high intensity), how long ago you exercised, what time of day it is and when your next meal is due.

That said, in general there are some basic rules to follow when creating a post-workout meal:
• Eat protein to help with muscle repair;
• Consume carbohydrates to replenish glycogen stores;
• Include healthy fats which contain essential fatty acids for healthy cell function;
• Choose nutritious whole foods that are nutrient dense.
In this guide we’ll discuss each of these components in more detail along with some ideal combinations for post-workouts snacks/meals at different times of day that fit within a balanced diet for overall health and performance goals.

What to Eat Before a Workout

Eating the right foods before a workout can set you up for success in achieving your fitness goals. A healthy pre-workout snack can help to provide energy, so you can maximize your performance during training. It’s important to find the right balance of carbohydrates, proteins, and fats for your body so that you can fuel your workout and replenish your energy levels. In this guide, we will explore all the best things to eat before a workout.


Carbohydrates are essential for any athletic activity. Before exercising, aim to consume about 0.7 grams per pound of body weight. For example, if you weigh 150 pounds, take in about 105 grams of carbohydrates before training. Carbs provide your muscles with the energy they need to work without getting fatigued quickly and can help improve your performance. Eating too few carbs pre-workout can limit the intensity of your exercise and lower your endurance level.

The type of carbohydrate you eat is important for both performance and recovery. Quick-digesting carbs like nutrients found in white bread, potatoes or sugary snacks may provide short-term energy; however, they may also cause a sugar crash or bloating than long-lasting complex carbs like oats or quinoa. Starchy vegetables such as sweet potatoes and fruits like bananas are excellent sources of pre-workout carbohydrates that also contain fiber, vitamins and minerals to promote overall health while you exercise.


Protein is an important macronutrient to have before a workout because it helps to maintain and build muscle tissue when coupled with resistance type exercise. Protein also helps with satiety and can increase thermogenesis (heat production) which can help boost calorie burning potential. Having some protein before a workout may also reduce muscle breakdown.

Examples of protein-rich foods that can be consumed before a workout include: eggs, dairy products such as Greek yogurt or cottage cheese, plant-based proteins (such as nuts or nut butters, grains such as quinoa, legumes such as chickpeas and lentils), lean meats such as chicken, turkey, fish or beef, and tempeh. When choosing which protein sources to eat pre-workout it is important to do so in combination with carbohydrates so that you are meeting your body’s fuel needs for exercise performance and recovery.

Healthy Fats

Consuming healthy fats before a workout can help ensure your body gets enough energy to keep going. Healthy fats provide the necessary nutrients to fuel and repair your muscles, while also boosting your metabolism. Ideal choices include foods high in monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fatty acids (MUFAs and PUFAs), such as:
-Unsalted Peanuts
-Chia seeds
-Olive oil

In addition, certain dairy products like plain Greek yogurt and cottage cheese are excellent sources of healthy fats. Try topping a bowl of yogurt with berries or chopped almonds for an additional surge of nutrition before heading out to the gym.

What to Eat During a Workout

Eating during a workout is just as important as eating before and after a workout. Eating during exercise will help provide the necessary fuel and nutrients to the body, help replace lost fluids, and help sustain energy levels during exercise. Knowing what to eat before and after a workout is important, but understanding what to eat during a workout is just as crucial. Let’s discuss what foods are best for consumption during a workout.

Sports Drinks

Sports drinks, such as Gatorade and Powerade, are usually the go-to choice for athletes, as they provide carbohydrates, electrolytes and fluid to replenish what is lost during exercise. They are designed to hydrate better than water alone and to decrease muscle fatigue due to supplementation of carbohydrates. Sports drinks contain both glucose (sugar) and fructose (fruit sugar), which can supply your muscles with energy more quickly than glucose alone. The electrolytes help to keep your body functioning properly when you sweat.

However, it’s important to remember that sports drinks can be high in calories due to their sugar content – for that reason you should only consume them after intense exercise lasting more than an hour or when your activity levels are high. For those engaging in less strenuous activities it may be better to stick with plain water or an electrolyte drink such as LYTEshow – an all-natural powder mix that contains the same minerals found in sports drinks without the added sugar or calories.

Energy Bars

Energy bars are a convenient and often nutrient-dense snack that can be eaten before or after a workout. They come in many varieties and are typically packed with healthy fats, carbohydrates, proteins, vitamins, and minerals. Depending on the type of bar you choose, you can get an adequate amount of energy to power your workout and help build muscle mass. When choosing an energy bar to eat before or after your workout, look for one that contains at least 10-30 grams of protein depending on how strenuous your exercise is. Also make sure it has complex carbohydrates and healthy fats to provide sustained energy throughout the day.

Some people find energy bars to be overwhelming because they come in so many shapes, sizes and flavors. To make the right choice for you, carefully read labels so you understand what ingredients are included in each bar. Look for bars with no added sugar or artificial ingredients—natural energy bars made from whole foods are always a safer bet than processed ones, which tend to be loaded with preservatives.

To maximize your intake while fueling up before a workout, opt for an energizing bar with higher levels of complex carbohydrates like oats and rolled grains like quinoa or brown rice combined with fruit such as dates or dried apricots for natural sweetness. For post-workout nutrition look for a protein-packed snack that combines fibrous carbohydrates like nuts; Greek yogurt; honey; eggs; natural peanut butter; almond butter; seeds such as chia seeds; whey protein powder; dried fruit; nut butters; fish oils, etc., as these types of ingredients help speed up recovery time after strenuous activity

Protein Shakes

Protein shakes are a great option for post-workout nutrition and are easily tailored to fit your diet. Generally, they can contain anywhere from 10 to 30 grams of protein, depending on the type of protein powder used and the amount you add. Whey protein is a popular choice because it’s quickly digested and provides essential amino acids that will help rebuild and repair muscle tissue. Other forms of protein — like soy, egg white, pea, hemp and casein — may also be found in some protein shakes.

Not only do these shakes offer quality high-protein nutrition but can also provide other nutrients needed for muscle recovery such as carbohydrates and electrolytes. If possible, choose a natural shake mix with fewer ingredients that contains more whole-food ingredients such as nuts, seeds or dried fruits instead of artificial colors or flavors.

Be aware of added sugar content in your shake mix; when using sweetened products for convenience’s sake look for those with no more than 10–15 grams per serving size. To further boost the goodness in your post-workout shake opt for organic ingredients which may have higher levels of anti-inflammatory properties. Adding fresh fruit or vegetables is another way to up the nutrient density in each serving while helping keep dehydration at bay; try adding half a banana or some grated carrots to your shake!

What to Eat After a Workout

Choosing the right foods to eat after a workout can not only provide you with the necessary nutrients to help your body recover and stay energized but can also help you reach your personal fitness goals. Eating the right foods after a workout can help you maintain or even gain muscle, reduce soreness, and refuel your body. In this ultimate guide, we’ll go over the best foods to eat after a workout to help you maximize your results.


Protein is one of the most important nutrients to include in your post-workout meal, as it helps repair and build muscle tissue. While there are many different types of protein, animal sources such as whey, casein, egg white and fish offer a complete range of essential amino acids. Plant proteins such as beans, nuts, seeds and soy products also contain high levels of protein though they may not offer a complete range of amino acids.

When choosing the right type of protein for your post-workout meal varies depending upon your goals and preferences. Whey protein is often considered an optimal choice due to its ability to be quickly digested and absorbed into the body. However, slower-digesting proteins like casein may be beneficial if you are looking to increase muscle repair or slow down digestion for a sustained nutrient supply throughout the day. Egg whites not only provide quality protein but also boast healthy fats which can aid in recovery. Lastly, combining plant proteins is an excellent way to ensure you’re getting all the essential amino acids you need for optimal tissue recovery and growth.

When deciding how much protein to take in after exercise it’s important to account for when you plan on eating again following exercise; if it’s going to be a while between meals then targeting a higher ratio (1 gram per pound or 2 grams per kilogram) may be advantageous; however if your meals will follow shortly after exercise then smaller amounts (0.5 – 0.8 gram per pound or 1 – 1.7 grams per kg) will suffice


Carbohydrates are the body’s primary source of energy and can help to restore muscle glycogen levels, allowing for optimal recovery. Consuming a combination of slow and fast-acting carbohydrates after a workout is important in order to replenish lost glycogen levels. Slow-acting carbohydrates, such as oatmeal, whole grain bread, sweet potato, squash, and brown rice can be used as part of post-workout meals or snacks. Fast-acting carbohydrates like white potatoes, bananas, applesauce, and yogurt can provide the body with an immediate burst of energy.

Including lean protein sources when consuming carbohydrates helps to provide further recovery benefits. Good protein sources that are easy to digest include fish such as salmon or trout; lean poultry like chicken or turkey; dairy products such as low fat Greek yogurt or cottage cheese; legumes such as edamame; low fat nuts like almond butter; plant-based proteins such as tofu/tempeh; eggs; and whey protein powder. Consuming carbohydrates with adequate amounts of protein within 45 minutes after exercise helps to maximize muscle growth and recovery .

Healthy Fats

After a workout, you need to replenish your body’s fuel stores and incorporate healthy fats into your post-workout meal. Healthy fats provide energy to your body and help with the absorption of vitamins and other nutrients. They also support the body’s anti-inflammatory processes, hormone production, brain health, organ protection and mental functions.

Some sources of healthy fats that you should include in your post-workout meal are avocados, nuts, nut butters, olive/avocado oils, chia seeds, flaxseeds and fish. These are all excellent sources of essential fatty acids that can help you heal sore muscles quickly and repair any damage done during the workout. They provide a steady source of energy to help you stay energized throughout the day. Additionally, they can reduce hunger pangs throughout the day so that you don’t end up reaching for unhealthy snacks to keep you going between meals.

To get maximum benefit from your post-workout meal, it’s important to include whole food sources rich in healthy fats rather than processed foods or processed oils such as vegetable oil or corn oil. While these may appear convenient and cheap at first glance, these usually come with a large amount of trans fats which will not only slow down muscle recovery but also increase inflammation throughout your body – something that is detrimental for any athlete! So if you want to stay fit and healthy make sure you opt for natural whole food sources whenever possible!


It’s important to refuel your body after vigorous exercise with a meal or snack that contains an appropriate balance of nutrients. Eating the right kind of food in the right amounts will help your body recover faster and, in turn, improve your performance.

After an intense workout, aim for high-quality protein combined with complex carbohydrates. Remember to prioritize whole foods over processed items when you’re shopping for post-workout snacks. And don’t forget to stay hydrated! Drinking enough fluids throughout the day is essential to keeping your body well nourished and energized after a tough fitness session.

Following these tips can help you make the most out of your workouts and give you the fuel necessary to tackle any challenge a fitness routine can bring.

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