Many people who are starting a workout program have insufficient nutritional knowledge and little guidance besides basic training tips. No matter if you are an athlete or just want to stay in shape, what you eat before and after physical activity can make a great difference in terms of weight management, muscle building, and energy levels. So, what exactly should you eat after a workout? The answer depends on your particular nutritional needs and goals; however, we have some useful suggestions that may help you make the most of your training plan.
Choosing What to Eat After a Workout
For most people, making time for a training program is something that needs to be carefully planned inorder to make room for other everyday activities, like going to work, running errands, picking the kids up from the school, being on time for classes, and much more. Juggling so many obligations, it can be difficult to take the time to plan what to eat after a workout session.
To make things even more challenging, most people experience a completely normal increase in appetite, rising the odds of going for that a machine snack. The problem is that most post-workout commercial snacks may not be as healthy as advertised.
Instead, focus on foods that contain the nutrients that enhance muscle recovery after exercising: protein and carbohydrates. They will help replenish the glycogen reserves that are used during exercise and enhance muscle protein synthesis.
Best Post-Workout Foods
Here are some quick, healthy recipes that can be prepared the night before to refuel you and promote muscle recovery after a sweaty exercise session.
The intake of complex carbohydrates, found in fresh veggies and green leaves, can go a long way in terms of boosting satiety and energy. Just make sure to pack the salad dressing in a separate container!
These beans and dandelion greens will keep you full for longer thanks to their vegetable protein content and detoxifying compounds; another great post-workout meal is this high protein quinoa caprese or an arugula salad with figs, walnuts & goat cheese, both of which are full of essential amino acids and healthy fatty acids. Other options include this amaranth and quinoa salad, which will be a real winner for those looking for an energy boost that keeps them going strong until the next meal. Last but not least, when looking for healthy salads, rich in antioxidants, this roasted bell pepper salad with capers and olives can be exactly what you need.
For a quick energy boost after the gym, mixing superfoods, such as acai, camu camu, carob, maca, lucuma, and sacha inchi with fruits and vegetables, like bananas, beets, blueberries, and carrots, has been shown to improve recovery after physical activity.1,2 Making superfood smoothies is a great idea to enhance nutrition and stamina that will help you get through the rest of your busy day. Healthy smoothies, such as this carob banana coffee smoothie, lucuma almond coconut smoothie, quinoa almond & oatmeal smoothie, blueberry acai smoothie with peanut butter, or mango papaya smoothie with maca powder are packed with the best post-workout nutrients.
Of all the foods you can eat after a workout to regain energy and repair muscles, snacks are arguably the most practical choice. They are particularly handy for people with a busy schedule and little to no time for sitting down to eat a proper meal. The best thing about making these made-ahead healthy snacks is that they are packed with protein and good carbs to keep you going throughout the day, without processed sugars and other additives commonly found in commercial treats. Grab some carrot cake energy balls, kaniwa pop rocky road bars, or raw lucuma & coconut brownies to go, all of which are guaranteed to be satisfying and energizing as well as nutritious. Delicious healthy sandwiches and wraps can also be a beneficial and quick snack after a workout, including this chickpea salad sandwich, energizing quinoa wrap, maca hummus sandwich with cucumber and alfalfa sprouts, or crispy tofu wrap.
As you can see, there are plenty of options to refuel your body and carry on with your day after a workout. Discover all the nutritious recipes you can easily prepare at home, and let them accompany you on your workout journey!
- Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition, Vegan diets: practical advice for athletes and exercisers, 2017
- Nutrients, The Impact of Vegan and Vegetarian Diets on Physical Performance and Molecular Signaling in Skeletal Muscle, 2021.
- Sports Medicine, Vegetarian diets : nutritional considerations for athletes, 2006.
- The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, Vegetarian dietary practices and endurance performance, 1988 | Physical fitness and vegetarian diets: is there a relation?, 1999
- Sports Health. (2022). Effects of Beetroot Supplementation on Recovery After Exercise-Induced Muscle Damage: A Systematic Review. Retrieved August 21, 2023, from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC9214898/
- Antioxidants (Basel). (2023). Overview of the Potential Beneficial Effects of Carotenoids on Consumer Health and Well-Being. Retrieved August 21, 2023, from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC10215867/