What you eat an hour or so after you work out is just as important, if not more so, than what you eat beforehand. Fueling your workout is one thing; restoring your energy, repairing muscle and replenishing electrolytes are absolutely essential to prevent injury and help you make the most of future workouts. Some of the best post-workout foods you can eat, both for meals and quick snacks, are foods you already love. Let’s look at some of the healthiest and most effective options.
If you have the time to sit down for a meal in the hour or so that follows your workout, there are plenty of options that will help boost your energy to get you through the rest of the day.
Baked chicken with veggies is a protein and carb combo that will fill you up and help you feel energized. Sometimes a variety of different healthy foods can help balance your intake and distribute nutrients where needed.
Pizza has everything you need to recover lost energy stores after exercise, including plenty of carbs and protein to fill you up and stabilize your blood sugar. You don’t have to eat a whole pizza in one sitting (really); even two or three slices will help you feel re-energized.
A peanut butter and jelly sandwich sounds too simple, right? The combination of the carbohydrates from the bread, peanut butter and jelly means you’re pumping both simple and complex carbs into your body. Not only will you start feeling that sugar kick in quickly, but more energy will continue to get released into your system more slowly over time. You won’t start getting annoying cravings by the middle of the day.
If you head straight to work or somewhere else after your workouts, carbs and protein on the go are your best bet for keeping your energy up until you can get a good meal in.
Greek yogurt is packed with carbohydrates that will help replenish some of the energy you burn during a workout. It also has twice the amount of protein as regular yogurt, which is important for repairing and strengthening muscle.
Fruits like bananas, berries, melons and homemade fruit smoothies have more than enough simple carbohydrates, the kind of carbs that break down quickly and give you quick bursts of energy. Fruit, whether fresh, dried or blended into a drink or shake, is the perfect post-workout snack if you don’t have time for a meal right after you exercise and need to stay alert.
Whole grain crackers with peanut butter are the salty, crunchy and nutrient-heavy snack you need after heading to the gym. Or you can swap out crackers for pretzels, if you want. Snack foods like peanut butter have multiple key nutrients, which makes eating them more worthwhile.
You probably already know liquids are another effective way to get nutrients back into your body after working out. Combine whole foods with supplements and a carb-heavy liquid to round out your post-workout diet.
Protein shakes are an excellent supplement as a post-workout snack or as part of a meal to get more quality sugar into your bloodstream. You can also use things like protein powder in baking, if you’re not a big fan of using it in your liquids.
Chocolate milk is another alternative that packs a lot of protein into a smaller serving. It’s also a nice replacement for regular milk if you can’t stand the taste.
What you eat for post-workout meals and snacks should focus not just on muscle repair, but putting much-needed energy back into your body. The last thing you want is to hit a wall after lunch, leaving you feeling drained and sluggish for the rest of the day. Get some sugar in you and, in a way, reward yourself for working hard to take care of yourself.