Post-Workout Nutrition: What to Eat After a Workout

This section discusses how each macronutrient — protein, carbs and fat — is involved in your body’s post-workout recovery process.

Protein Helps Repair and Build Muscle

As explained above, exercise triggers the breakdown of muscle protein (1, 2).

The rate at which this happens depends on the exercise and your level of training, but even well-trained athletes experience muscle protein breakdown (3, 4, 5).

Consuming an adequate amount of protein after a workout gives your body the amino acids it needs to repair and rebuild these proteins. It also gives you the building blocks required to build new muscle tissue (1, 6, 7, 8).

Studies have shown that ingesting 20–40 grams of protein seems to maximize the body’s ability to recover after exercise (6, 8, 9).

Carbs Help With Recovery

Your body’s glycogen stores are used as fuel during exercise, and consuming carbs after your workout helps replenish them.

The rate at which your glycogen stores are used depends on the activity. For example, endurance sports cause your body to use more glycogen than resistance training.

For this reason, if you participate in endurance sports (running, swimming, etc.), you might need to consume more carbs than a bodybuilder.

Consuming 0.5–0.7 grams of carbs per pound (1.1–1.5 grams/kg) of body weight within 30 minutes after training results in proper glycogen resynthesis (1).

Furthermore, insulin secretion, which promotes glycogen synthesis, is better stimulated when carbs and protein are consumed at the same time (10, 11, 12, 13).

Therefore, consuming both carbs and protein after exercise can maximize protein and glycogen synthesis (13, 14).

Try consuming the two in a ratio of 3:1 (carbs to protein). For example, 40 grams of protein and 120 grams of carbs (15, 16).

Eating plenty of carbs to rebuild glycogen stores is most important for people who exercise often, such as twice in the same day. If you have 1 or 2 days to rest between workouts then this becomes less important.

Fat Is Not That Bad

Many people think that eating fat after a workout slows down digestion and inhibits the absorption of nutrients.

While fat might slow down the absorption of your post-workout meal, it will not reduce its benefits.

For example, a study showed that whole milk was more effective at promoting muscle growth after a workout than skim milk (17).

Moreover, another study showed that even when ingesting a high-fat meal (45% energy from fat) after working out, muscle glycogen synthesis was not affected (18).

It might be a good idea to limit the amount of fat you eat after exercise, but having some fat in your post-workout meal will not affect your recovery.

Bottom Line: A post-workout meal with both protein and carbs will enhance glycogen storage and muscle protein synthesis. Consuming a ratio of 3:1 (carbs to protein) is a practical way to achieve this.

Whether you’re working out to lose fat, increase muscle tone or just feel good, hitting the gym is only part of the battle to get the best results. Because while your diet matters throughout the day, your post-workout meal might play the biggest role of all — take that, breakfast.

See, your body stores glycogen and protein in its muscles. During a workout, your body first burns through the nutrients you ate pre-workout and moves on to the stored glycogen, burning it as energy. Then, after stepping off the treadmill, the protein in your muscles begins to drop and muscle fibers start breaking down.

But for a magical time — for about 30 to 60 minutes after wrapping up a workout — your body is primed to refuel and replenish itself by absorbing carbs and protein once again.

So I’ve rounded up 43 of my favorite recipes for what to eat after a workout. These include a healthy mix of complex carbohydrates, proteins, antioxidants and vitamins. From full meals both you and your family will enjoy to a few quick snacks you can chow down when you’re pressed for time, you’re sure to find at least one post-workout meal you’ll love!

The 43 Best Post-Workout Meals

1. Almond Butter Pomegranate Quesadilla

If you’re looking for a quick and easy post-workout meal any time of day, these “quesadillas” are it. Loaded with potassium-rich bananas, almond butter for protein and fresh pomegranate — but no cheese! — these come together in just minutes. Use your favorite whole grain, grain-free or sprouted grain tortilla brand for these!

Photo: Almond Butter Pomegranate Quesadilla / Fit Foodie Finds

2. Black Bean Avocado Enchiladas

These vegan enchiladas are the total package. You’ll be full for hours thanks to quinoa and black beans, while heart-healthy avocado adds creaminess. Sub in almond, coconut or gluten-free flour in place of the all-purpose white stuff, then bake and enjoy!

3. Caribbean Salad With Sweet Orange Vinaigrette

This colorful salad makes an awesome meal for those nights you can’t decide what to eat after a workout. Brimming with grilled chicken, fresh fruits and veggies and a homemade orange vinaigrette, it’s especially perfect on hot summer nights. Make the vinaigrette ahead of time and use leftover grilled chicken to pull this together even faster. Opt for coconut sugar and try out other fixings, too — mango would be great.

Photo: Caribbean Salad With Sweet Orange Vinaigrette / Our Best Bites

4. Cheese, Black Beans and Corn-Stuffed Sweet Potatoes With Avocado Crema

A loaded potato that’s good for you? That’s the case with this stuffed sweet potato. Perfect for a solo dinner, this potato gets zapped in the microwave then topped with black bean and corn salsa (use a homemade version or your favorite store brand). Top with a dash of cheese, broil and drizzle with a fresh avocado crema and you have a healthy, hearty post-workout meal in just minutes. Cooking for a crowd? Roast several potatoes at once in the oven.

5. Chicken Thighs With Sweet Potatoes, Corn and Kale Bake

This bake is the quintessential Sunday supper, but it’s so simple to make that it’s perfect for a post-workout dinner on busy weeknights, too. Chicken thighs, onions, sweet potatoes and kale are lightly browned in a skillet for color and then finished off in the oven in just 30 minutes. It’s colorful, tasty and good for you — this bake is a winner.

Photo: Chicken Thighs With Sweet Potatoes, Corn, and Kale Bake / Jo Cooks

6. Chipotle Black Bean Burgers

You won’t miss the meat in these hearty bean burgers. A chipotle spread gives protein-packed black beans a smoky flavor (but you could also use canned chipotle peppers in adobo), while almonds add extra texture and healthy fats. Topped with greens, avocado slices and fresh limes, this is a post-workout meal (lunch or dinner!) even the most hardcore carnivores will enjoy.

Photo: Chipotle Black Bean Burgers / Bev Cooks

7. Chocolate Chia Recovery Drink

When you’re in a time crunch, this chia seed-based chocolate drink will help replenish your body after a workout — and you can drink it on the go! Flaxseeds and hemp seeds add in their own doses of fiber and good fats, while banana kicks in potassium. Use almond butter (or your favorite nut butter!) for a protein boost and guzzle down.

8. Classic Vegetarian Nut Loaf

Though this sounds like a holiday type of dish, this nut loaf is actually a great contender for a vegetarian post-workout meal. Why? Because it can be prepped in advance and is loaded with healthy, tasty ingredients! Make it a snap by cooking the rice ahead of time and using a food processor to chop up the heart-healthy nuts and shred the cheese. Top with fresh herbs for the best flavor.

Photo: Classic Vegetarian Nut Loaf / The Kitchn

9. Clean-Eating Banana Almond Quinoa

This creamy quinoa is awesome after a tough AM workout, though it’s great for a breakfast-as-dinner meal, too. Superfood quinoa provides protein and all your amino acids, while bananas add potassium and sweetness. Sprinkle with almonds and dig in.

10. Creamy Pineapple Peach Protein Shake

Get a big dose of protein sans meats with this pineapple peach shake. Cottage cheese and almond milk add a healthy dose of it, while using frozen peaches and pineapples means you can whip this up whether it’s a hot summer day or the dead of winter.

11. Curry Sweet Potatoes With Broccoli & Cashews

If you find yourself tired of preparing them the same old way, this recipe will reignite your love for the healthy carbohydrates. Here, they get a flavor makeover with curry powder, cashews, broccoli and raisins. The best part? This dish can be eaten cold, room temperature or warm; make it ahead of time and chow down after your workout!

Photo: Curry Sweet Potatoes With Broccoli & Cashews / 86 Lemons

12. Gluten-Free Baked Meatballs

These meatballs are one of my favorite gluten-free recipes. They’re full of protein thanks to grass-fed beef and eggs and the perfect food to munch on their own, add to a sandwich or top a salad with for your post-workout meal. Make extras and freeze for busy evenings, too.

Photo: Gluten-Free Baked Meatballs / Dr. Axe

13. Green Vanilla Almond Post-Workout Shake

There’s nothing wrong with green vanilla when it tastes this good. A great option for you’re on the go, this high-protein shake helps your body recover after a workout. It’s got a healthy dose of leafy spinach, good-for-you coconut milk, bananas and almond butter, and a scoop of protein powder to keep you going. This just might become your go-to shake.

14. Grilled Kefir Chicken

Probiotic-rich kefir is one of the best foods for your body, as it’s full of vitamins and minerals. It’s often used in place of yogurt, but in this recipe it acts as a tenderizer for chicken. Combined with red chili sauce, lime and honey, the result is a perfectly moist grilled chicken topped with mozzarella. Serve with a side salad, your favorite veggies or in a sandwich. You’ll love the results!

15. Ground Turkey Sweet Potato Skillet

Turkey and sweet potatoes? No, this isn’t a Thanksgiving recipe! It is, however, a crazy simple one-pan dish that’s ready in about half an hour. Ground turkey and sweet potato bring protein and carbs to the party, while bell peppers, onions, garlic and chili pepper give this skillet meal loads of flavor.

Photo: Ground Turkey Sweet Potato Skillet / Primavera Kitchen

16. Heart-Healthy Citrus Avocado Salmon Salad

If you want a post-workout meal rich in healthy fats, protein and leafy greens, this is the recipe for you. This salad has it all: salmon, spinach, avocado, grapefruit, oranges and almonds. It’s fast, easy and delicious — what more could you want?

17. Hummus-Crusted Chicken

Who knew that topping chicken with hummus would result in a crispy coating and moist, tender meat? When you want to feel fancy with minimal prep time, make this. Top your chicken with store-bought or homemade hummus (psst: I love this recipe!) and then bake it atop a bed of fresh vegetables. The result is a one-dish meal that’ll have you drooling; and the leftovers are great, too!

Photo: Hummus-Crusted Chicken / Gimme Some Oven

18. Kale With Vermouth Raisins and Pine Nuts

Looking for a new way to prepare ever-popular kale? This is a great option to get your dose of vitamins. The leafy greens gets tender without turning soggy, while pine nuts and raisins add crunch and sweetness. This makes a wonderfully light dinner, but to give it even more substance, consider adding chicken, grass-fed beef or turkey.

Photo: Kale With Vermouth Raisins and Pine Nuts / No Recipes

19. Mango Coconut Quinoa Salad

Enjoy the tropical flavors of mango and coconut while getting all the benefits of quinoa in this easy-to-make salad. Along with almonds, mangos, onions, peppers and coconut flakes, this post-workout meal packs a nutritional punch. But skip the edamame — black beans make a fiber-rich substitution.

20. Matcha Green Tea Pancakes

Get a major dose of antioxidants with these matcha green tea pancakes. Not only are they a fun color (the kids will love them!), but they also get extra protein from brown rice flour and hemp protein powder. With an all-natural topping and maybe a touch of organic chocolate syrup, you’ll never wonder what to eat after a morning workout again.

Photo: Matcha Green Tea Pancakes / The Nutty Scoop

21. Metabolism-Boosting Smoothie

With green tea, bananas, grapefruit, spinach and protein powder, this post-workout smoothie will keep you going well after your training session is over. It’s loaded with vitamin C, protein and iron to indulge your body while tasting great. Make a batch and sip on it after!

22. One-Pan Mexican Quinoa

This Mexican-inspired dish is anything but your basic quinoa recipe. With just a few minutes of prep time, it comes together quickly in one pan. This quinoa mix is also full of inexpensive, healthy ingredients: corn, black beans, tomatoes and avocados all make appearances and rejuvenate your body after exercising. What more could you want?

Photo: One-Pan Mexican Quinoa / Damn Delicious

23. Paleo Chop & Drop Roasted Veggies & Sausage

Paleo lovers, this all-in-one meal is for you. It requires little hands-on time, letting you freshen up before chowing down. It’s easily adaptable to your family’s tastes, but don’t skip the vitamin A-rich sweet potatoes. Opt for chicken or turkey sausage to keep it healthy.

Photo: Paleo Chop & Drop Roasted Veggies & Sausage / Paleo Newbie

24. Paleo-Glazed Chicken Wings

Crispy, golden-brown wings covered in a sweet mango glaze full of protein and the healing benefits of coconut oil? These Paleo wings have it all. They’re wonderful on their own or pair them with sweet potatoes, salad or turnip fries for a full post-workout meal.

Photo: Paleo-Glazed Chicken Wings / Meatified

25. Poblano Chicken Bulgur

If whole grains are a part of your diet, bulgur makes a nice change from quinoa or rice in this one-pan recipe. This high-fiber meal gets a healthy helping of protein thanks to the chicken and a dose of probiotics and calcium from the kefir. With no fancy ingredients required, it’s easy to make in minutes, perfect for when you can’t decide what to eat after a workout.

26. Pecan Pesto Salmon

Salmon is one of the best foods you can eat. It’s packed with vitamins, minerals and healthy fatty acids. Replenish your body after exercise with my pecan pesto meal. The wild-caught salmon is drizzled with a fresh, homemade pesto and is ready in just 25 minutes. You can even make extra pesto and use it in other meals, too!

Photo: Pecan Pesto Salmon / Dr. Axe

27. Quinoa Fried Rice

Don’t undo your hard work at the gym with Chinese takeout; make your own fried “rice” instead. By substituting quinoa for starchy white rice, you’ll get a lightened up, healthy version of the calorie-laden favorite. With loads of veggies and eggs, it’s great for non-meat eaters, but for even more protein, add in chicken or grass-fed beef.

Photo: Quinoa Fried Rice / Cooking for Keeps

28. Quinoa Veggie Burger With Roasted Red Pepper Relish

This burger will knock the socks off the staunchest beef lovers. It’s packed with vegetables — carrots, celery and arugula are all here — plus full of protein and fiber courtesy of cannellini beans and quinoa. Add a red pepper-based relish to top it all off, and there’s no way you won’t love this for your post-workout meal.

29. Raw Chocolate Pomegranate Protein Bars

An excellent option when there’s no time for a sit-down meal, these protein bars will give you a boost until your next meal while helping your muscles recover. With oats, coconut oil, almond butter, chocolate and protein powder, you might feel energized enough for a second workout!

30. Roasted Butternut Squash With Lentils and Walnuts

Using pre-cut butternut squash helps this recipe come together in a snap. The squash lends a hearty helping of vitamin A and antioxidants, while walnuts and lentils add protein, fiber and lots of flavor. It’s a great vegetarian-friendly main dish, but it works well as a side to beef, fish or chicken, too.

31. Roasted Red Pepper Hummus, Avocado, & Feta Sandwich

I love how easily this fancy grilled cheese sandwich comes together ­— and how good it is for you! It’s super creamy because of the protein-rich hummus and avocado and bursting with flavor from fresh basil, lemon juice and roasted red peppers. Use your favorite gluten-free bread or sprouted grain version!

Photo: Roasted Red Pepper Hummus, Avocado, & Feta Sandwich / Two Peas and Their Pod

32. Salmon Stir Fry

Jazz up your normal stir fry recipe by incorporating salmon into it. I like using broccoli, peppers, mushrooms and onions, but this is a wonderful recipe to throw in whatever’s on hand: Celery, carrots and a scrambled egg make great additions.

Photo: Salmon Stir Fry / Dr. Axe

33. Skinny Chicken Fettucine With Alfredo Sauce

Get the Alfredo taste without all the preservatives in the jarred stuff with this recipe. Kefir keeps this sauce creamy without added fat while grilled chicken adds extra protein — no compromising your workout results here. Opt for brown rice or gluten-free pasta and coconut flour.

34. Slow Cooker Shredded Barbecue Chicken With Kefir Cilantro Slaw

Prep this slow-cooker recipe several hours before heading off to exercise and enjoy a post-workout dinner waiting for you! Shredded chicken gets cooked with a homemade barbecue sauce (use coconut oil instead of canola oil!) and then topped with the real star, a kefir-based cilantro slaw. It’s got protein, calcium and a whole lot of flavor — and it practically cooks itself!

35. Smoked Salmon Sushi Bowl

Forget spending money on pricey salmon bowls — make your own nutritious, economical version at home! Brown rice, wild-caught salmon and avocado mean you get a healthy mix of carbs, protein and good fats in a meal that takes just minutes to assemble.

Photo: Smoked Salmon Sushi Bowl / Dr. Axe

37. Spicy BBQ Chickpea and Crispy Polenta Bowls With Asparagus + Ranch Hummus

These creative chickpea and polenta bowls taste as good as they look. You’ll want to smear the homemade ranch hummus on everything, while the bowls are packed with chickpeas, cannellini beans, arugula, tomatoes, avocado and lots of seasonings. You can easily swap the polenta for brown rice or quinoa, add in grilled chicken or just enjoy as is.

Photo: Spicy BBQ Chickpea and Crispy Polenta Bowls With Asparagus + Ranch Hummus / Half Baked Harvest

38. Strawberry Oatmeal Smoothie

Good-carb oats, potassium-rich bananas and strawberries make this a fast and filling post-workout option that’s brimming with protein and fiber. Use almond or coconut milk for a little extra zest!

39. Sweet Potato Black Bean Quinoa Bowls

Enjoy a meatless post-workout meal with these super filling bowls. They have a subtle sweetness from the sweet potato and lots of staying power from quinoa and black beans. Best of all, they’re drizzled with a homemade cilantro cream sauce made from Greek yogurt (hello, extra protein!) and honey. If you’ve been wondering what to eat after a workout that doesn’t include meat, you need to give this a go!

Photo: Sweet Potato Black Bean Quinoa Bowls / Spoonful of Flavor

40. Taco Salad

Enjoy your tacos minus the taco with one of my favorite salad recipes. Your favorite Tex-Mex fixings — ground turkey, corn, avocados, tomatoes and more ­— give this salad a lot of nutritional bang for its buck. You’ll also love the homemade dressing. Best of all, this salad comes together in just minutes for those busy days.

Photo: Taco Salad / Dr. Axe

41. Thai Cashews With Chicken

You won’t be the same after trying this Thai stir fry. Red chilies add heat while cashews add heart-healthy benefits, flavor and crunch. Use coconut sugar instead of brown sugar for the (awesome!) sauce. Serve with brown rice, quinoa or in lettuce wraps.

Photo: Thai Cashews With Chicken / The Wanderlust Kitchen

42. Triple Lentil Recovery Soup

With a whopping 25 grams of protein, your body will hit the “reset” button after the first bite. And with three types of protein-packed lentils, this soup is anything but boring.

43. Vegan Banana Protein Pancakes

Not quite a pancake, not quite banana bread, these hearty little pancakes are full of post-workout fuel, no matter the time of day. Top ’em with fruit, nuts, maple syrup or gobble them down on their own.

Photo: Vegan Banana Protein Pancakes / Vega

Slim Down with These 8 Delicious Post-Workout Snacks

The right training plan is important if you want to lose weight, but you shouldn’t forget about your post-workout meal. If you treat yourself to a pizza after every workout, you’re never going to shed those extra kilos or pounds 😉

After your workout, make sure to eat a good mix of macronutrients: Carbohydrates provide you with energy while protein is essential for strong and firm muscles. And don’t forget about high-quality fats!

If you want to lose weight, try one of the snacks below after your next workout:

1. Bananas with peanut butter

If you are hungry after your workout, try eating a banana with one or two spoonfuls of peanut butter. But make sure to use pure peanut butter – without additives like sugar or palm fat. The bananas provide you with carbohydrates, potassium and magnesium. These are important for recovering from your workout. The peanut butter contains essential proteins and fat.

2. Baked sweet potato and egg

The loaded sweet potato skins take some time to prepare, but they are well worth it: (Sweet) potato and egg are the perfect combination when you want a snack with a high biological value. This value specifies how many grams of the body’s own protein can be produced from 100 grams of dietary protein. Just because you eat something with 20 g of protein, for example, doesn’t mean your body is able to absorb it all – that’s why the biological value is important.

3. Greek yogurt with berries

Greek yogurt has a high protein content: One container (200 g) contains 10 to 15 g of the macronutrient. Raspberries, strawberries and blueberries (fresh or frozen) are low calorie, low carb and rich in antioxidants.

Our tip:

Fill a jar with yogurt for the perfect snack on the go. And if you want to enjoy it for breakfast, just mix in some oats.

4. Edamame

Have you ever tried this amazing weight-loss snack? The green soybeans are very low in calories: 100 g of edamame have a mere 125 calories. In comparison, 100 g of chips contain about 500 calories. Also, one serving of edamame provides you with nearly 15 g of protein.

5. Cottage cheese with vegetable sticks

Plain cottage cheese is very high in protein. Try eating it with some carrot or cucumber sticks. Or are you in the mood for a sweet snack? Sprinkle some freshly grated vanilla or cinnamon over it.

Did you know that cottage cheese contains lots of leucine? This amino acid promotes muscle protein synthesis after your workout. The more muscle you have, the more calories you burn when resting. This in turn results in more weight loss.

6. Quinoa salad

A mixed quinoa salad is a delicious post-workout meal. If you make a little extra, you can also enjoy it for lunch tomorrow. Quinoa, a “pseudo-cereal”, is a vegan source of protein. 100 g of quinoa contains almost 15 g protein. Tip: Mix in some beans and chickpeas for some added protein.

7. Post-workout shake

Peanut butter and bananas go great together, especially as a shake. Blend them together with some milk, freshly grated vanilla and cocoa. Enjoy a natural post-workout shake without artificial protein powder.

8. Savory muffins

Two or three savory vegetable muffins provide you with plenty of protein. And the best thing about this recipe is that you can make a large quantity of your post-workout snack ahead of time. Not enough carbohydrates for you? Then just eat them with a slice of whole grain bread.

How do you fortify yourself after your training? Share your tips and recipes with us in the comments below!


Meal Prep Recipes

In need of inspiration? Try these 22 easy meal prep recipes for muscle-building and fat loss.

Whether you’re just starting out in the world of fitness, or you’re a seasoned pro looking for something other than plain chicken breast and broccoli, you need to try these tasty, and most importantly, easy meal prep recipes for muscle-building and fat-loss.

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Why you need to meal prep:

1. Make healthy eating effortless

Meal prep makes healthy eating easy. With a little forward planning, you won’t even have to think about cooking for days.

2. Pre-portioned food

If you want to build muscle and lose fat, it’s crucial to fuel your body with the right amount of calories and nutrients – and that means weighing your food. But getting the scales out at every single meal is awkward, tiresome and confusing (and not to mention a little antisocial).

Meal prep in advance for pre-packed, pre-portioned meals to support your fitness goals.

3. Nutrient timing is everything

Research shows that to get the best out of your training regime, it’s vital to consume enough protein and carbohydrates at the right time, in order to expedite muscle recovery and growth and prevent muscle catabolism (i.e. breakdown)1.

Preparing your food in advance makes it so much easier for you to consume the food your body requires, at the correct time.

4. Your time is precious

Why spend every single day planning what to cook, buying ingredients and making your meals, when you could be doing something more productive with your time?

Get ahead of the game and meal prep in advance, so you can spend your time doing what matters the most to you.

You can keep your new meals perfectly packed and portioned throughout the week with these slim-design, multiple-compartment meal prep containers.

1. One-Tray Cashew Chicken

Meal prepping couldn’t be easier when you only need one baking tray to make it. Try this delicious one-tray cashew chicken meal prep recipe for 4 days’ worth of tasty lunches.

Recipe here.

2. Seared Tuna Steak & Sweet Potato Wedges

Try this super-easy seared tuna steak with pink peppercorns and sweet potato wedges for a batch of healthy meals, with a huge 54g protein per meal.

Recipe here.

3. Lean Creamy Sausage Pasta

Give this high-protein creamy sausage pasta a go for your next batch meal prep session. This recipe uses quark in place of cream cheese and reduced-fat sausages to keep it lean – without skimping on flavour.

Recipe here.

4. Spicy One-Pot Lentil Dal

Batch cook your lunches in advance with this flavoursome, vegan-friendly, high-protein lentil dal. This dal gets the bulk of its protein from nutrient-dense lentils and chickpeas, which are also loaded with fibre and essential vitamins and minerals like folate, thiamin, pantothenic acid, vitamin B6, iron, phosphorus, and zinc.

Recipe here.

5. Quick Spicy Cajun Salmon & Garlicky Veg

This spicy salmon meal prep recipe makes 3 days’ worth of tasty lunches and is seriously easy to prepare. Plus, salmon is brimming with omega-3 fatty acids – known to enhance muscle building and keep you lean. Bonus.

Recipe here.

6. Breakfast Burritos For All Week Long

Whip these up on a Sunday for breakfast burritos that brighten up your weekday mornings. Simply pop them in the freezer, then grab one and warm it up 2 minutes’ flat for the ultimate healthy, filling breakfast.

Recipe here.

7. Superfood Overnight Oats

This superfood overnight oats recipe is packed with powerful and nutritious ingredients including maca, bee pollen, flax, green tea extract, and chia so you can start your day right. Soaking oats overnight means the oats get super plumped up and pudding-like – great for a grab and go breakfast.

Recipe here.

8. Sweet Potato & Chorizo Hash

Looking for something new to make with your sweet potatoes? This protein-packed sweet potato hash is the perfect muscle-building breakfast.

Recipe here.

9. Speedy Harissa Chicken & Tabbouleh

Liven up your chicken meal prep with this quick harissa chicken and tabbouleh – packed with protein and healthy carbohydrates.

Recipe here.

10. High-Protein Kedgeree

This ultra-speedy haddock kedgeree makes a serious meal prep upgrade from plain chicken and broccoli. Swap in Protein Rice for the ultimate high-protein meal prep.

Recipe here.

11. Low-Carb Teriyaki Beef Zoodles

Who said takeaway meals have to be unhealthy? Try this low-carb teriyaki beef meal prep fake-away recipe next time the cravings set in.

Recipe here.

Healthy Grilling & Summer Recipes

Nutrition has a big impact on exercise performance—not having enough of the right foods and fluids can compromise your performance. First, the basics. When we’re talking about food for working out, there are a few components that need to be considered:

  • Carbohydrates: Carbohydrates are the main fuel source for your body. They are stored as glycogen in your muscles and liver and used during exercise. Sports drinks that contain electrolytes and carbs can help to keep your energy up — but this is if you’re doing seriously intense or prolonged exercise, like running a marathon.
  • Electrolytes: Electrolytes, and especially sodium and potassium, get lost through sweat. Replenishing them is important in helping you stay properly hydrated.
  • Water: Water is the number one most important thing to guzzle when you’re working out. Water is necessary for every bodily function, including exercise, and you lose it when you sweat. You’ll lose even more water (and electrolytes — more on that below) if you’re exercising when it’s hot and humid. For the most accurate way to know you’re drinking enough water, weigh yourself before and after exercise — drink 16 to 24 ounces of fluid for every pound you lost.
  • Calories: Some people exercise to lose weight, some to stay in shape, some because they love it (and maybe a combination of these). If exercise is part of your weight-loss plan, you want to make sure you don’t overcompensate for a workout by splurging on more calories than you burned. On the other hand, if you’re not trying to lose weight, you want to make sure you are taking in enough calories to maintain your weight and prevent muscle loss.
  • Protein: Protein is needed for muscle building and repair. It’s particularly important post-workout (more on that below).

Now for your game plan. Here’s a breakdown of what to eat before, during and after exercise:
Before: Start off your workout hydrated by drinking 2 to 3 cups of water in the three to four hours before you exercise and keep sipping as you sweat (if you work out first thing in the morning, just stay as hydrated as you can the day before and drink some water when you wake up). If you’re working out for less than an hour, water may be all you need throughout and after your workout to replenish what you’ve lost. If you’re dehydrated, you won’t perform as well. For a longer workout (or if you just don’t do well exercising on a totally empty stomach), eat something easy to digest — a meal (three to four hours beforehand) or a snack (one to two hours beforehand) that’s low in fat, low in fiber, moderate in protein and high in carbs.
Pre-workout ideas: Consider low-fat cottage cheese and blueberries, nonfat Greek yogurt with sliced banana, or a turkey sandwich in a pita pocket with cucumber, lettuce, tomato and mustard).
During exercise: For a regular (less than one hour) workout, you’ll just need water during exercise to replenish the fluids you’re losing. If your workout is longer than an hour, get some carbs (30 to 60 grams per hour) to keep your blood sugar levels up. This is especially important for endurance athletes and extreme weather conditions (heat, cold, altitude). Sports drinks, which contain electrolytes and carbs, can be helpful for these longer workouts.
After exercise: Once you’re done, you need to replace fluid and electrolytes, energy (that means calories), and carbs to replace glycogen—the reserves of energy that are stored in your muscles. The College of Sports Medicine recommends you need 0.5 to 0.7 grams of carbohydrates per pound of body weight (that’s 75 to 105 grams for a 150-pound person) during the first 30 minutes following intense, long-lasting exercise and every two hours for the next four to six hours. You also need some protein for muscle building and repair. If you’re just going for a regular, shorter workout, your next meal can give you the replenishment you need. Choose a healthy mix of carbs, protein and liquid.

15 Healthy Workout Snacks

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There are those who eat to live, and those who live to eat, and I am definitely of the latter. Food is always on my brain. What will I eat for lunch? What will I make for dinner? When can I make that insanely delicious looking recipe I saw on Instagram? You know how some people will say they forgot to eat? Yeah, that’s never happened to me. No matter how hectic my life gets, I always remember to stop and eat, for my brain and stomach are excellent communicators. One never fails to alert the other when the hunger bug creeps up.

Since food is a regular part of my thought process, it’s no surprise I’m often thinking of it in the midst of a workout. How long do I have to run on the treadmill so I can have a cupcake later? I not only live to eat, I exercise to eat (well, and to be healthy of course). I try to always carve out time for a good workout, usually five to six days a week. And almost nine times out of 10, I’ll find myself craving something sweet and sinful post calorie-torch. That’s why it’s important for me to have healthy snack options on hand, and better yet, healthy sweet snack options.

Many of these 15 workout snacks have killer sweet and salty components, along with protein and fiber, sating all of your body’s pre- and post-exercise needs. From recovery smoothies that will trick your brain into thinking you’re sipping a milkshake, to some incredibly satisfying, guilt-free protein cookies (who would have thunk those words could coexist?), these recipes should totally be in your snack rotation to get you ready for a workout and energize you afterwards. They’re definitely now part of mine!

Homemade Sports Drink | Running to the Kitchen

Chocolate Chip Quinoa Energy Bars | Cooking Quinoa

Homemade Chocolate Hazelnut Lärabar | Naturally Ella

Peanut Butter Banana Smoothie | Gimme Some Oven

Greek Yogurt Power Bowl | Nutritious Kitchen

Apple Cookies | Rachel Schultz

Raw Almond Butter Cups | Oh She Glows

Trail Mix Energy Bites | Gimme Some Oven

High-Protein Chocolate Peanut Butter Cookies | Fit Foodie Finds

Peach Recovery Smoothie | Healthy Seasonal Recipes

Nuts and Fruits Energy Bars (homemade KIND Bars) | A Farmgirl’s Dabbles

Healthy Brownie Granola Bars | Minimalist Baker

Chocolate Peanut Butter No-Bake Energy Bites | Gimme Some Oven

Blueberry Banana PB Smoothie | Skinnytaste

Healthy Trail Mix | With Style & Grace

posted on March 22, 2015 in Recipe Round-Ups

Figuring out what to eat before and after a workout can be such a struggle but it’s worth it. When it comes to a pre-workout snack, what you choose to put in your mouth is important. If you’re going to put the machine that is your body through the paces you want to fuel it first with proper nutrition. And no, I’m not talking about pre-workout supplements. I’m talking about real, delicious meals and snacks. The kind of foods you would enjoy anyway—and will enjoy even more when you know they’re helping you reach your fitness goals.

Of course what you eat after a workout is really important too. Indeed refueling after exercise gives your body what it needs to recover from the exertion and helps you build bigger, stronger muscles.

That means being thoughtful about what you eat before and after exercising will help you maximize the benefits of all your hard work at the gym. So what’s the best pre-workout snack? And what’s best to eat after a workout? As a registered dietitian, I recommend the meals and snacks below. Consider them a critical part of your training plan.

What to eat before a workout:

I counsel my patients to eat before exercise because I think it will give them the best chance to get the most out of their workouts. Not eating enough before a workout can make you dizzy, lightheaded, nauseated, or lethargic. It can also make you more likely to injure yourself. And even if none of these things happen, skipping food can negatively impact your performance and reduce your gains.

But I know that realistically you won’t always have the time (or desire) to eat before a workout. On nights when you’re scrambling to get from the office to your favorite studio for that 6:00 p.m. class it might feel impossible to squeeze in a snack on the way. And what do you do if you’re a morning workout person who doesn’t like to eat breakfast? (Psst: It’s fine not to eat breakfast despite all that most-important-meal-of-the-day talk.)

The truth is that for most people it’s OK to work out on an empty stomach (though I would not recommend doing so if you have blood sugar issues). So if you can’t even grab a protein bar or the idea of forcing down a bite makes you want to gag, that’s all right. But ideally you should fuel up before you work up a sweat—and definitely, definitely drink water before, during, and after. Here’s how and what to eat before a workout.

1. Time your pre-workout snack right.

The ideal time to eat is between 30 minutes to three hours before your workout. That way you’re not still digesting when you hit the gym floor, but you haven’t gone and used up all those helpful calories yet. Having said that, this can be customized. You may have to experiment to see which time frame does your body good. If you’re working out first thing in the morning you probably won’t be able to eat a whole meal before you hit the gym. A small snack or mini-breakfast should suffice.

I like to start sipping on this protein-packed green smoothie 30 minutes to an hour before I hit the gym and finish the other half when I’m done. If you are exercising later in the day, I recommend having a snack 30 minutes to an hour before your workout or working out two to three hours after a well-balanced meal.

2. Drink plenty of water.

It’s best to get your body hydrated before you even think about heading to the gym. One way to determine your overall hydration status is to check out the color of your urine first thing in the morning. According to the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, lemonade-colored urine is a sign of appropriate hydration, while dark-colored urine (think apple juice) indicates a deficit in H20.

16 Post-Workout Snacks Fitness Experts Swear By

Hitting the gym without paying attention to your post-pump diet is like nailing the interview for your dream job and never following up about the position: It’s bound to undermine your hard work—especially if your goal is to lose weight or pack on muscle mass.

We know you’re busy and barely have time to work out, let alone plan your post-workout snack, but personal trainers are in the same boat. Trainers often squeeze in their workouts and meals between clients and rarely—if ever—have access to a kitchen during the day. With that in mind, we were curious how fitness experts—people who get paid to stay in shape—refuel their bodies for optimal recovery and results without a ton of resources or free time.

Here we reveal 16 quick and easy trainer-approved snacks that will fuel your body post-workout and get you the body you’ve always wanted. Looking to learn more about what to do before you snack? Don’t miss these mistakes people make the first time they work out.




“A to-go box of 1% chocolate milk is ideal for post-workout recovery. It provides just the right ratio of protein to carbohydrates to replenish energy stores and facilitate muscle tissue repair. The convenience factor is also a plus because refueling within 30 minutes of a challenging workout is necessary to reap optimal benefits.” — Cedric Bryant Ph.D., FACSM Chief Science Officer, The American Council on Exercise



“After working out, eating a combination of protein and carbohydrates helps repair muscle tissue and restock depleted energy stores. When I need something quick that I can eat on the go, I often reach for a Peanut Butter Cookie Larabar. The only ingredients are protein-filled peanuts, dates (which provide carbs) and salt, which helps replace some of the electrolytes lost through sweat.” — Kit Rich, celebrity trainer and co-owner of SHIFT by Dana Perri



“Green grapes make a great on-the-go post-workout snack. They’re a good source of electrolytes, which help maintain fluid balance and muscle function. Freeze a handful of grapes in a Zip-Lock bag, and pop them after a workout for a quick, refreshing frozen treat.” — Jay Cardiello, the fitness and nutrition expert behind 50 Cent and J.Lo’s killer physiques



“After a sweat session, it’s important to consume carbs and at least 20 grams of protein to replenish depleted energy stores and amino acids, which are the building blocks of protein. To hit the nutritional mark, I’ll have two slices of cinnamon raisin Ezekiel bread (a source of complete protein) topped with natural fruit preserves (a fast-digesting simple carb) and a shake made with whey or egg protein and water.” — Victoria Viola, PN Certified Nutrition Coach, NSCA CPT, Co-Founder, Excelerate Wellness, LLC



“If I don’t have much time to refuel after a workout, I’ll have a Quest Bar and a piece of fruit to hold me over until I can have a full meal. This snack provides muscle-building protein and energy-boosting carbs on the go.” — Kelvin Gary, Owner and Head Coach,
Body Space Fitness



“When I have time to prep food ahead of time, I’ll take a small can of tuna and mix it with four ounces of nonfat Greek yogurt, lemon juice, dill, salt and pepper, and put the mixture into a Tupperware container. I’ll pack that along with a low-carb tortilla and assemble the roll-up right before I want to eat it. This snack provides fast-digesting carbs and a full serving of protein, so it’s perfect for a post-workout meal. Most importantly, I enjoy it!” — Victoria Viola, PN Certified Nutrition Coach, NSCA CPT, Co-Founder, Excelerate Wellness, LLC




“After a long, hard workout I enjoy a delicious banana with almond butter. Bananas are low in calories but still offer a good deal of potassium, an electrolyte lost during exercise, and enough carbs to replenish energy stores. The almond butter provides about 10 grams of protein to help muscle recovery, some salt for electrolyte balance and healthy fats for brain health. This snack is also easy to take with you anywhere!” — Dr. Sean M. Wells, DPT, PT, OCS, ATC/L, CSCS Owner and PT, Naples Personal Training

“When I work out, it tends to be high intensity for a full 90 minutes, so if I don’t have a recovery snack, I find myself lagging mentally for the rest for the day. The ideal post-workout snack after a long workout is made up of quick releasing sugars (to replenish depleted energy stores) and protein, which helps repairs tired, worn out muscles. A banana with two tablespoons of peanut butter fits the nutritional bill. For those who are trying to lose weight, cut the serving size in half.” — Dan Roberts, author of the fashion model workout, Methodology X



“After a long run or cycle, I like to combine 5 ounces of organic canned chicken with a half-cup of quinoa. (Look for chicken canned in salt-free water.) This combination provides about 22 grams of protein, 50 grams of carbs and a substantial serving of fiber, B vitamins and iron. This snack is also a great way to replace carbohydrates and recover your muscles after a challenging workout.” — Dr. Sean M. Wells, DPT, PT, OCS, ATC/L, CSCS Owner and PT, Naples Personal Training, LLC



“After long runs (90 + minutes), I like to recover with a bowl of Acai and blueberries. I used to live in Brazil, and everyone would eat this after training and I got into it in a big way. The acai berry tastes amazing and is full of antioxidants and amino acids that aid recovery and both fruits provide carbs and help replenish glycogen stores.” — Dan Roberts, author of the fashion model workout, Methodology X




“If I have to run to work after my workout, I’ll whip up my go-to Peanut Power Smoothie. Made with one cup of skim milk, half a banana, a scoop of protein powder and two tablespoons of natural peanut butter, this drink provides a great ratio of carbohydrates, proteins and electrolytes to replenish my depleted energy stores and tired muscles. Plus, the nut butter is filled with essential fats that speed recovery time and reduce post-workout inflammation and soreness.” — Jim White RD, ACSM HFS, Owner of Jim White Fitness and Nutrition Studios



“After working out, eating a combination of protein and carbohydrates helps repair muscle tissue and restocks lost glycogen (energy) stores. When I’m in the mood for a protein shake, I’ll combine two scoops of protein with banana and strawberry slices and either milk or water, depending on the length of my workout. Long, intense gym sessions require the extra calories and protein milk provides.” — Kit Rich, celebrity trainer and co-owner of SHIFT by Dana Perri




“After a workout, I often combine a handful of mixed berries (strawberries, blackberries and raspberries are some of my favorites) with six to eight ounces of plain nonfat Greek yogurt. Each serving of this yummy snack has about 150 calories, 20 grams of carbs, 7 grams of fiber and 20 grams of protein. The combination of protein and carbs helps fuel recovery, replenishes energy stores and repairs muscle.” — Justin Thomas Sanchez, Celebrity Trainer, Reebok Sponsored Athlete and trainer at Drill Fitness

“After an exercise session, I often reach for a banana and a Greek nonfat plain Chobani yogurt. Fast-digesting carbs like bananas are beneficial because they jump-start the recovery process faster than slow-digesting complex carbs. The protein-filled yogurt helps tired muscles recover and rebuild.” — Ajia Cherry, personal trainer and Founder at Functional Innovative Training



“After a long, high-intensity workout, snacking on some organic beef jerky and chocolate almond milk is ideal. The protein in the jerky aids muscle repair and provides a good deal of salt, an electrolyte lost through sweat that reduces soreness and speeds recovery. The calcium, sodium, protein and carbohydrates in the chocolate almond milk help replenish lost nutrients from an intense workout. It’s also a good source of magnesium, which is needed for optimal muscle function.” — Joshua Buchbinder, M.S. is Fitness Manager, 24 Hour Fitness Super Sport in Aurora, Colorado



“Eating watermelon after a workout is an effective way to rehydrate, replenish electrolytes lost through sweat and refill depleted glucose stores. I recommend snacking on about four cups of melon because it provides about 50 grams of carbohydrates, which is the recommended intake to replace lost energy stores fully.” — Lori-Ann Marchese, fitness celebrity and owner of Body Construct LLC



“Hummus with a toasted whole-wheat pita makes a quick and effective post-workout snack. It keeps me energized for the rest of the day and is filled with carbs and protein, two nutrients needed after a workout to aid recovery.” — Jay Cardiello, the fitness and nutrition expert behind 50 Cent and J.Lo’s killer physiques



“When I’m cutting carbs, I’ll take a part-skim mozzarella cheese stick, cut it in half lengthwise and roll a slice of roasted turkey breast around each half. The two roll-ups provide approximately 150 calories, 3.5 grams of carbs and 17 grams of protein to aid muscle repair.” — Justin Thomas Sanchez, Celebrity Trainer, Reebok Sponsored Athlete and trainer at Drill Fitness.

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This post about post-workout snack ideas is sponsored by Real California Milk. Thanks for supporting our sponsors.

Hi, friends! How was the weekend? Let’s talk food!

If I had a nickel for every time someone has asked me what to eat after a workout … 🙂 But quite honestly, I’m not a registered dietitian, so I can’t actually tell you what to eat. Not to mention, I don’t know your body, nor your unique system and lifestyle, so I can only tell you that post-workout nutrition is important and offer up some options that are generally good ideas — then it’s up to you to find what works for your personal make-up. Cool?

When I first started learning about nutritional needs and how they correlate with activity, I learned the popular idea that “you need to eat protein after a workout” — so I always tried to get some protein in the form of processed protein beverages shortly after my resistance sessions to refuel — (usually in the car on the way home from the gym or on the walk home from the gym when I lived in the City). Well, as I moved along and learned more and more, I was surprised to find out that what your body really needs after a big workout is carbs, with protein as well, so I had to change my ways. Yes, that’s carbs AND protein, with minimal fat, and of course, water — always lots of water to rehydrate your bod before, during and after a workout.

Why should you eat carbs after a workout?

Carbohydrates replenish your glycogen stores, which are depleted during exercise — to oversimplify it, we’ll call this your energy. Some research suggests aiming to eat those carbs within 30 minutes of your workout in order to replenish the stores and replenish your energy. And some research also suggests that the more that your endurance is challenged during your workout, the more carbs you will need to consume afterward.

The amount of carbs you need depends on your bodyweight and the activity that you did, and personally, because I don’t count macros, I don’t think it needs to be exact. As you guys know, I’m not into exact food tracking — but that doesn’t mean I don’t make sure to include carbs and protein in my post-workout nutrition, because I definitely do — and I usually go for 20-50 carbs, depending on my session.

Why should you eat protein after a workout?

When you do a resistance/weights workout, you are actually breaking down your muscles. Once again, to totally oversimplify it, that means you need to eat protein with essential amino acids to build back up your muscles.

The amount of protein you need depends on your bodyweight and the activity that you did. And you want to get in that protein around 30-45 minutes after your session, although some research says you can wait a while longer. I’ve always thought around 20 grams of protein is sufficient for the average female exerciser, and that’s what I do, but once again, it doesn’t need to be exact and can vary greatly.

So we’ve now established: Your post-workout meal should have carbs AND protein. (And don’t forget to drink water!)

If your workout is timed so that you can eat a regular balanced meal within an hour after completion, that’s ideal. But our workouts aren’t always timed that way (mine never seem to be), so that’s where snacks come in handy — to give your body some sustenance until your next chance to sit down and eat something larger. And as far as timing, eating something within 30 minutes is probably best, then you want to get your bigger meal in within 2 hours or so — but just do the best you can.

Simple post-workout snack ideas

Some of my favorite snack ideas feature Real California Milk products, because dairy is nutritious, full of carbs and protein and is easy to incorporate into your snacking rotation.

Speaking of Real California Milk, I had a chance to attend an event and meet a real California Dairy farmer over the summer, and ever since then I’ve been keeping my eyes out for the official California Dairy seal on products in my grocery store. Almost all (99 percent) of the dairies in California are family owned, and California is the #1 milk producer and the #2 cheese producer in the country. More details on Real California Dairy in this post I did a while back and you can also visit this store locator to find the products near you.

I know some of you may not eat dairy, though it works for me, and I have dairy quite a bit. What I really like about dairy is that it’s a non-fortified natural complete protein (meaning it has all of the essential amino acids, rather than an incomplete protein, which only has some) and it also has beneficial calcium, vitamin D, vitamin A, multiple B vitamins and more in every serving — and any food with a bunch of essential nutrients is a friend of mine.

Now, let’s get to those snack ideas …

Yogurt and banana

When I was pregnant, I didn’t use a lot of protein powder, so without fail after a resistance workout, I would reach for a heaping of yogurt for my protein and carb needs. That’s the beauty of yogurt — it has both things! Depending on the kind of yogurt, you could get anywhere from say 10-20 grams of protein and 10-20 grams of carbs too in just one serving. And usually, you’ll be having more than one serving (ever tried to eat 8 ounces of something? It’s small haahha!). The banana adds many more nutritious and delicious carbs.

Chocolate milk

I still remember the day that I read an article touting chocolate milk as the perfect post-workout beverage, and I immediately reported it to Dave. Why? Because Dave has been using chocolate milk as his post-workout snack for years before it was cool. It has protein and carbs, and it’s simple. You can’t beat that.

Cottage cheese and berries

I’ve professed my love for cottage cheese before. It’s just pleasing to the palate, and it goes with everything — both sweet and savory — and it’s chock full of protein and carbs. I often add nuts to my cottage cheese, but blueberries are a nutritional powerhouse, with lots of antioxidants and are carby too. Are you team large curd or small curd? Large curd all the way for me!

Apple, cheese and crackers

Snack plate dreams are made of apple slices, cheese slices and crackers too. You’re getting carbs, protein and a lot of taste when you mix all three of these together and it feels rather fancy, you know?

And a few others:

Trail mix

Hard-boiled eggs and apple slices

Protein powder mixed with milk (so much better than just water)

Chia seed pudding made with milk

Rice cakes topped with yogurt or cottage cheese

Milk, spinach and banana smoothie

Half of a peanut butter and jelly sandwich

Smoked salmon and cream cheese on half of a whole wheat bagel

Coconut-covered dates and a glass of milk

And that about covers some simple and easy ideas.

Whatever you do, don’t forget the importance of refueling and rehydrating after your workout — because you’ve got to treat your body right and replenish and nourish it.

Find a small rotation of a few tasty snacks that you enjoy eating — all of which have carbs and protein and eat away.

Thanks for reading, my friends!

Disclaimer: This post is sponsored by Real California Milk. I received compensation, but all opinions are my own. Thanks for supporting the brands that support A Lady Goes West!

Have an awesome start to your week!

Post-workout snack ideas over on A Lady Goes West …

Questions of the day

What’s your go-to post workout snack?

What was your workout today?

How was your weekend?

Easy post workout meal

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