Nutrition Articles

What to Eat After You Work Out

Refuel and Recover with a Post-Workout Meal or Snack


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
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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

  • Really? White bread? Chocolate milk? Call me crazy but I easily maintain my normal weight by exercising on an empty stomach, eating a low crab/grain/high fat whole foods diet and drinking water post-workout. I fuel my body with healthy fats and steer clear of "low-fat" and packaged GF foods. - 10/7/2015 10:23:39 AM
  • Thank you for sharing. - 10/5/2015 12:20:11 PM
  • I think for me the reality check is how many calories did I burn. I'm always surprised when what I think was a great workout only burned a few hundred calories... so using the 50% rule it means a pretty small post work out snack! However I admit I rarely eat post work out.. wait for a meal. So.... I'll keep thinking about the little snacks like an apple with peanut butter or some carrots and humus... - 9/6/2015 6:59:53 AM
  • 10000STEPSADAY
    My main exercise time is 40-80 mins walking and this is usually sometime between 8pm & 10pm. A handful of mixed nuts should suffice, I'm guessing? - 6/23/2015 12:05:42 PM
  • I eat after my noon cardio, usually a sandwich of eggs or peanut butter. I do not eat after my evening cardio...I am not hungry then. - 2/25/2015 9:42:59 AM
  • Sorry I like your article alot but I just can't wrap my head around the notion of eating after a workout. - 2/19/2015 7:14:45 PM
    Thanks Dean for this article, I needed this, when I come home after a workout I am so hungry, I'll try your tips. Thank you so much! :) - 11/10/2014 1:15:10 PM
  • NUMEN15
    I was struggling with post workout meals but now I know. Great info! - 10/21/2014 11:27:56 AM
  • Wow. I just did a kettlebell workout, then made an onion and kale omelet on multi-grain toast just before coming across this. I guess I nailed it, lol. - 8/27/2014 10:30:06 AM
    This was an excellent article. All the foods I have been avoiding I should be eating. - 8/5/2014 11:18:19 AM
  • 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
    I normally reach for an apple. - 2/7/2014 4:02:55 PM

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