While it’s important to fuel up before your workout, what you eat after is just as important. A tough workout means you need proper nutrition afterwards — after all, your muscle glycogen needs to be replenished, since it’s depleted during exercise. Eating well after a workout can also help repair and build new muscle tissue. Here are the best post-workout foods to eat for maximum recovery and results.
1. Chocolate milk
Your favorite childhood drink is actually also a favorite of bodybuilders after they lift. Low-fat chocolate milk makes a great post-workout recovery drink because it quickly restores muscles to their peak potential, replenishing losses like fluids, electrolytes, and nutrients which are lost when we sweat.
2. Chia seeds
Chia seeds are a fantastic source of nutrients and proteins. You can sprinkle them raw into smoothies, salads, and more. Or if you soak them in almond milk or water, you can make a delicious pudding with some chopped fruits inside — no one will be able to tell that it’s good for you!
3. Avocado Toast
Avocados are packed with good-for-you fats and is overall dense in nutrients. When combined with other carbs like whole wheat toast and some eggs for an irresistibly rich, but healthy meal. You can also blend avocados into hummus, smoothies, and pretty much anything due to their versatile flavors.
4. Nut Butter
Also a good source of fats, nut butter comes in all varieties beyond peanuts, such as almonds and cashews. Try it in a smoothie bowl or a sandwich with honey and banana slices. You can always go classic PB and J, but we recommend cutting the processed sugar in jam and going a more natural route.
Salmon is high in protein and Omega-3s, making it an all around fantastic food — especially after workouts. Try it with sautéed veggie side, or even a small serving of pasta. Just remember not to add too much cheese or unhealthy ingredients.
6. Sweet potatoes
Sweet potatoes are easy to digest, and supply your body with the healthy carbs they need to refuel after a workout. They can also promote faster nutrient absorption, and sweet potatoes are chock-full of healthy compounds. Try it stuffed with veggies and cheese, or baked into fries as a side.
7. Brown rice
For the carbohydrate portion of your meal, consider a nutritious grain like brown rice. If you don’t like the taste or texture, you can always swap this for quinoa or couscous. Your rice also doesn’t need to be brown, necessarily — some athletes prefer white rice, since its lower fiber content decreases the chance of an upset stomach.
8. Chicken breast
Chicken breast (grilled, never fried or made with butter) is a great protein to pair with a healthy grain or a filling salad. You can do this with turkey as well — just avoid red meats, which aren’t as heart-healthy.
9. Egg scramble
Eggs are full of nutrients, and a scramble is the perfect way to mix in other good-for-you foods in a low maintenance way. You can scramble up a few eggs with veggies, sweet potatoes, and even some turkey bacon. While this makes a wholesome breakfast, you can eat this at any time of the day or night with minimal prep.
10. Power smoothie
You post-workout recovery meal can come in the form of a liquid — especially if it has the same nutrients as a fully loaded meal. If you find that chocolate milk isn’t as filling, just blend up your favorite fluid with some Greek or probiotic yogurt. Be sure to add some water or ice for additional hydration. You can add in anything you want — even some nut butter or a scoop of protein powder.
11. Rice cakes
A nice and crunchy carb-loaded alternative to potato chips, a rice cake also makes a fantastic alternative to sandwich bread. Many people love spreading it with peanut butter, taco toppings, hummus, tuna salad, or anything else piled up, since it doesn’t get soggy easily.
12. Smoked salmon
Roasted salmon is always delicious, but there’s something so decadent smoked salmon, and you get the same nutrition benefits. There are a high amount of omega-3 fatty acids, which means lower levels of delayed onset muscle soreness after a tough workout. Pair with some pickled veggies, low-fat cream cheese, and a hollowed out bagel. Eating healthy doesn’t always have to mean depriving yourself.