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What to eat after a workout: 9 post-workout meals to try

Here are the best foods for your post-workout meal

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Proper nutrition is an integral part of achieving fitness and health goals for everyone. Sound nutrition and physical activity practices are essential in your efforts to get healthy and maintain a proper level of physical fitness and health. Achieving your goals is not exclusive to the observance of one without the other.

Therefore, it’s important to keep the saying “we are what we eat” when looking at overall health and fitness goals. If you have come to terms with the choice of an appropriate exercise routine, then figuring out what to eat after a workout will amount to overall peak performance.

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Things to keep in mind for your post-workout meal

Refueling post-workout helps you replenish the energy used during your workout and aids in the restoration, recovery, and build-up of body cells and tissues.

An ideal meal would include the proper amount of carbohydrates and proteins. Also, certain studies have advised the intake of these within the anabolic window, which simply refers to the short time after exercising when your muscles recover and repair. It usually lasts for the first 30 minutes post-workout. If you want maximum gains, ensure you consume protein and carbs within this time.

This has been the practice until recent times when it prompted debates that led to a lot more research being conducted to support the little scientific proof available. However, a review of this shows that maximal rates of muscle gains are a broader objective. That is, a person’s ability to regularly consume the nutrients needed is more important than adhering to specific timing when it comes to yielding results.

Having established that it is necessary to consume adequate nutrients to replenish energy after a workout, now it’s time to discuss some meals that are both tasty and nutritious.

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Post-workout meals you need to eat

Protein shake with glutamine or a banana

Are you just leaving the gym and needing something quick and easy that will give you all the essential nutrients your body needs to get stronger, stay healthy, and feel energized? Then protein shakes are your best bet and can offer you these required factors, which help actualize your goals.

Protein shakes are mixed drinks high in protein because they either contain a blend of protein powder or a mix of individual ingredients that are naturally high in protein. It is usually hard to get a particular protein source that will contain all the necessary amino acids needed to build the body, so a combination of all sources will offer you a complete profile.

A protein shake can be prepared with glutamine, which is one of the most abundant amino acids found in the body. It is also necessary for producing other amino acids and glucose. For a tasty recipe, try blending one to two scoops of protein powder with one serving of glutamine, and a liquid base. Feel free to add in a banana or have one on the side for a serving of carbs. To get the most out of your drink, do not use hot water as it lessens the effects of glutamine.

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Veggie omelet with peanut butter toast

You could remove the staleness of the everyday fried egg by throwing in some veggies. While reducing the boredom that develops over time by eating meals that you are overly familiar with, it is also tasty and nutritious! This omelet can be made with eggs or egg whites, chopped tomatoes, diced onions, and your favorite sauteed vegetables, alongside some peanut butter on toasted bread.

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Chicken, rice, and veggies

This post-workout meal is a great way to combine multiple nutrient-dense ingredients! These include your choice of rice, chopped chicken breast, finely diced onions, ginger, garlic, tomatoes, potato cubes, sliced mushrooms, and spices of choice. Once the chicken is nearly cooked, add in your remaining veggies and stir. Add the chicken and veggie mixture on top of a bed of rice and enjoy.

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Protein oatmeal with toppings

A bowl of oats undoubtedly comes with a lot of health benefits as it’s a great source of antioxidants, vitamins, minerals, and fiber. While making protein oatmeal, you are working on a balanced meal containing all the macronutrients since oats are more than capable of containing carbohydrates, protein, and fats through various added ingredients. The protein sources may include protein powder, cottage cheese, Greek yogurt, eggs, milk, nuts, seeds, and your favorite nut butter.

To prepare your oats, mix them with your choice of water or milk. Cook them thoroughly in either your microwave or on a stovetop. Once the oatmeal is ready, slowly stir in your protein powder. If you find the overall mixture is too dry, gradually add in small amounts of water until the consistency is satisfactory. Finally, top it with whatever you desire! A few ideas are peanut butter, bananas, and berries.

A glass of yogurt parfait with berries and granola beside a plastic spoon on brown cloth.
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Greek yogurt parfait

Yogurt parfaits are easy and refreshing meals that take next to no time to make. For this recipe, you’ll only need Greek yogurt, berries, and granola. Wash the berries and cut them into pieces. Layer the yogurt, berries, and granola as you desire. You can also add fruits, such as banana slices, diced apples, pears, and melon. You may even want to mix in some vanilla protein powder with your yogurt for an extra protein boost.

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Tuna with crackers or toast

Ingredients for this simple meal can vary based on your palette. You can buy the pre-flavored packets or make your own tuna salad with additions such as grapes, celery, and mayo. All you have to do is mix together your desired ingredients, spread the tuna on crackers or toast, and enjoy.

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Turkey sandwich

This is an incredible way to take in multiple essential nutrients in one bite. For a serving, you will need a few slices of bread, cream cheese, mayonnaise, a teaspoon of curry, average-sized apples or cucumber, and diced smoked turkey breast. You can easily adjust the ingredients for this post-workout meal as long as you still have a carb and protein source.

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Protein bar

There are many options for easy no-bake and low-carb customizable energy bars. You also have the option of buying pre-made protein bars to have as your post-workout snack. There are many brands out there, and it can be hard to know which one to choose. Try to find bars that have at least 20 grams of protein and less than 10 grams of sugar each.

A pancake with strawberries, blueberries, and banana slices on a striped cloth on a table.
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Protein pancakes with fruit and low-sugar syrup

Were you thinking of making the best-looking tasty yet healthy pancakes? Then this high-protein recipe from Cassie Best is for you! You can make these pancakes with eggs, milk, oats, bananas, berries, and protein powder.

Man drinking pre-workout supplement.
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What to avoid after a workout

While we’ve given you some options for healthy post-workout snacks and meals, that is by no means an exhaustive list, and there are plenty of other post-workout meals that are tasty and healthy. But equally as important as finding the right things to eat after a workout is knowing what foods to avoid after a workout, so you don’t undo all of your hard work.

First, hydration is key. But you should avoid using sports drinks. According to Eat This Not That, those drinks, which claim to be high in electrolytes, are also generally high in sugar, something your body definitely doesn’t need right after a workout. Speaking of sugar, it should go without saying that you shouldn’t be eating any foods that are high in sugar, such as cookies, candy, or even energy bars, and like protein bars, are high in protein, but unlike protein bars, are also high in sugar, which does nothing to help your body recover from a workout.

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A healthy post-workout meal rewards your body with energy

Nutrition is a significant part of your fitness journey, so be sure to maintain a balance of eating right and working out that is realistic for your lifestyle. It is important to be aware of everything you put in your body and ensure everything is in the right proportion. Eating a healthy and balanced meal after each of your workouts will provide your body with the energy it needs, and you get to enjoy some tasty food as well.

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Christine VanDoren
Christine is a certified personal trainer and nutritionist with an undergraduate degree from Missouri State University. Her…
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