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Nutrition Articles  ›  Healthy Habits

What to Eat After You Work Out

Refuel and Recover with a Post-Workout Meal or Snack

-- By Dean Anderson, Fitness Expert
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But if your appetite or schedule doesn’t allow you to eat a meal right after your exercise session, don’t panic. Your body can still replace your muscle fuel over the next 24 hours, as long as you’re eating enough food to support your activity level. If you can, have a smaller snack that contains carbs and protein as soon after exercise as possible. Liquids like smoothies, shakes, or chocolate milk, and/or energy bars can be especially effective snacks after a workout.

Here are some sample food combinations for your post exercise meal:
  • Bread, a bagel, or an English muffin with cheese or peanut butter
  • Dried fruit and nuts
  • Cottage cheese with fruit
  • Fruit juice with cheese
  • Yogurt with fruit
  • Veggie omelet with toast or roll
  • Chocolate milk
  • Cereal with milk
  • Eggs and toast
  • Turkey, ham, chicken, or roast beef sandwich
  • Vegetable stir-fry with chicken, shrimp, edamame or tofu
  • Crackers with low fat cheese
  • Rice or popcorn cakes with nut butter
  • Smoothie (with milk, yogurt, or added protein powder)
  • A protein or energy bar
  • A protein or energy shake
  • Pancakes and eggs
  • Any regular meal that contains lean protein, starch, and vegetables
Be sure to "Pin" this graphic for future reference.

 

As a moderate exerciser, you have a lot of flexibility when it comes to timing your meals and choosing your foods. The most important thing is getting to know your body and how it responds to exercise, so that you can give it what it needs to perform at its best. Eating the right things at the right times after you work out is essential to keeping your energy up, your workout performance high, and your body in fat-burning mode.
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About The Author

Dean Anderson Dean Anderson
Dean Anderson has master's degrees in human services (behavioral psychology/stress management) and liberal studies. His interest in healthy living began at the age of 50 when he confronted his own morbid obesity and health issues. He joined SparkPeople and lost 150 pounds and regained his health. Dean has earned a personal training certification from ACE and received training as a lifestyle and weight management consultant. See all of Dean's articles.

Member Comments

  • This is a very informative article. Thank you. - 4/23/2014 1:16:38 PM
  • Post workout meal: Oatmeal with a tablespoon of peanut butter, an egg and some almoond milk.. wow! What a filler - 4/15/2014 10:31:06 AM
  • A great starter is an egg, turkey bacon with peanut butter on 100% whole grain bread. - 4/15/2014 10:29:36 AM
  • Great time to eat my protein bar and/or rice cakes and peanut butter - 2/8/2014 5:48:13 PM
  • KOKOMOROCK
    I normally reach for an apple. - 2/7/2014 4:02:55 PM
  • Happy 2014, JWASHINGTON1031!

    I found several answers for your situation at this discussion site: http://www.
    bikeforums.ne
    t/archive/ind
    ex.php/t-6604
    36.html

    Apparently, maybe Gatorade is too concentrated, and also may have too much sodium and sugar. Some users suggest DILUTING it before drinking. Some recommended a different drink called HEED. Someone else suggested using ENDUROLYTE. Another person gave a good "recipe" for soaking dates and fruit, and using THAT has the base of your own energy/post-worko
    ut drink. I'm going to try some of these myself!

    All the best, and good luck, everyone!

    MsBootcamp - 2/3/2014 2:58:28 PM
  • When I workout I am always sweating twice as much as any of my friends -- not just during exercise, but generally I sweat profusely in heat, etc... My problem during exercise is that I know I should be drinking something with electrolytes to replace minerals lost, but when I consume drinks like Gatorade I get excruciating stomach cramps IMMEDIATELY. Does anyone have any ideas about what I might try instead?? - 10/29/2013 10:47:01 AM
  • I thought it odd that they would push the carbs not the protein. Hmmmmmmm - 10/22/2013 2:43:28 PM
  • After my morning walk, I have a protein smoothie with banana, strawberries or blueberries or a protein bar and fruit, 30min. to 60min. after workout. - 10/14/2013 2:28:54 PM
  • JGOGLIN4
    I am thirsty after workout and need just water. Good tips.
    - 9/25/2013 9:12:57 AM
  • Great tips - 9/10/2013 11:21:52 AM
  • i always brought a low carb pita with white meat chicken, lettuce and tomato. about an hour after that i would snack on a large apple. and water through out the whole morning work out too - 9/9/2013 6:48:40 PM
  • Ack! I didn't read all the comments - but that graphic has at least one typo! CEREAL! Please! - 9/9/2013 2:09:44 PM
  • GRANNYSMILE
    after excersizing i just want to drink - 9/9/2013 11:35:39 AM
  • Eggs and pancakes after a workout? I can understand eggs but pancakes? - 8/16/2013 1:14:46 PM