When you’ve finished your workout, eating the right foods are key to repairing and refueling your body and muscles. I don’t know about you, but I’m starving after a good workout session. I’m sure you’ve heard that abs are made in the kitchen and it’s very true. What you eat after a workout is just as important as the workout you’ve done. These are a few of the best foods to eat for a post-workout recovery to give you the most out of your workout.
Disclaimer: This post contains affiliate links, meaning if you click on a product or service, and decide to purchase it, I may receive a commission at no extra cost to you. All recommended products and services are based on my positive experience with them. For more information, please read my full disclaimer.
Why is it important to eat the right foods for a post-workout recovery?
Eating the right foods for post-workout recovery is important for many reasons. Eating the right food replenishes depleted glycogen stores, providing your body with the energy needed to recover and prepare for future workouts. The right foods support muscle repair and growth, helping to prevent muscle soreness and enhance strength and endurance over time.
The right combination of nutrients helps to reduce inflammation and oxidative stress, promoting faster recovery and reducing the risk of injury. The first step to getting the body and healthy lifestyle you want is to make nutrition your priority. I use to cringe when I heard the word “healthy food”. Thanks to social media, we have a world or delicious recipes open to us and we are free to explore the healthy lifestyle we want! It might be more effort, but your taste buds will thank you.
If you don’t have the time to prep you meals, try ordering a few meal that align with your fitness goals from Fresh Meal Plan. Although I’m not able to order from them myself, I have heard nothing but good things from my friends in the US.
What helps muscles recover faster?
Everyone is different and it’s really important to listen to your body and follow a routine that works for you. Don’t be too hard on yourself either, when you do have a sick or off day, take the time to get back on your feet. Our bodies are capable of so much more than we think and you’ll bounce back in no time! Recover, rest and then start again.
- Hydrate properly by drinking plenty of water before, during, and after exercise.
- Eat enough protein to support muscle repair and growth.
- Add nutrient-dense foods into your diet, including fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and lean proteins.
- Get enough sleep to promote muscle recovery and hormone regulation.
- Remember to do active recovery exercises, such as light jogging or stretching, into your routine to enhance blood circulation.
- Try foam rolling or self-massage techniques to reduce muscle tension and improve flexibility.
- Consider taking cold baths or using ice packs to reduce inflammation and muscle soreness.
- Avoid sitting or remaining sedentary for long periods after exercise; engage in gentle movements to keep the blood flowing.
- Consider using compression garments or sleeves to improve circulation and reduce muscle swelling.
- Avoid excessive alcohol consumption, as it can impair muscle recovery and may cause dehydration.
- Listen to your body and adjust the intensity, duration, or frequency of your workouts as needed for sufficient recovery.
- Add a few relaxation techniques such as yoga or meditation to reduce stress and promote muscle recovery.
- Consult a healthcare professional if you experience persistent or severe muscle pain or if you have concerns about your recovery process.
RELATED:| Create the best full body workout plans.
When is the best time to eat after a workout?
The best time to eat after a workout is within 30 minutes to an hour, also known as the “anabolic window.” During this period, your body is primed to replenish glycogen stores and repair damaged muscle tissues. Eating a balanced meal or snack containing carbohydrates to replenish energy, protein to aid in muscle repair, and healthy fats to promote satiety is crucial.
This timing allows for optimal nutrient absorption and maximizes the body’s ability to recover and rebuild. However, it’s important to note that individual preferences and schedules may vary. Some individuals may prefer to eat a larger meal 1-2 hours after exercise, while others may find smaller, more frequent snacks to be more manageable. I prefer eating a high protein snack after every workout. I recently came across the Fulfil Chocolate Salted Caramel Protein Bar, it comes in at about 150 calories. But they are delicious!
The best foods to eat for a post-workout recovery.
With so many foods available to eat, it can be quite confusing to know exactly what your body needs. Finding a diet that suits your body is just as important as everything else. For example, I follow a wholefood, gluten-free diet that accommodates my Crohn’s Disease best. Do you know what your body needs? Here’s a good place to start.
Protein is responsible for repairing and rebuilding muscle tissue and helps to satiate hunger and can prevent overeating. Most people have a misconception that protein can only be found in meat-based products, which isn’t true. Like most foods, there are some great plant based protein sources available too. Lean sources of protein will best align with your fitness goals and help you achieve them. Having a few good protein bars or powders in your arsenal won’t hurt either. Make sure to check ingredients and be mindful of what you’re eating.
Protein sources to try:
- Chicken breast
- Greek yogurt
- Whey protein powder
Most of the time when people think about losing weight, the first thing they think to do is cut out carbs. Who wants to give up carbs anyway? Carbs replenish glycogen stores that were depleted during exercise and provide a quick source of energy for your body. Going for complex carbohydrates ensures a steady release of energy, supporting sustained recovery and muscle repair.
I am completely addicted to potatoes, made in a healthier way of course. Pretty much everything I make goes straight to my Air Fryer, if you don’t have one yet, you have no idea what you’re missing out on. But that’s beside the point. Carbs are your friend and you might just be surprised at what foods actually fall under carbs.
Carb sources to try:
- Sweet potatoes
- Brown rice
- Fruits (such as bananas, berries, and apples)
- Whole-grain bread or crackers
Healthy fats is something you should be least terrified of as they have so many different health benefits. Healthy fats aid in nutrient absorption and providing a source of sustained energy. Besides that, healthy fats are good for your heart health, hormone balance, and so much more. They are higher in calories, so make sure to still eat them in moderation and be mindful of the ingredients you put into a meal. I use My Fitness Pal to keep track of my calories and keep me on track.
Healthy fat sources to try:
- Nuts (such as almonds, walnuts, or cashews)
- Nut butter (peanut or almond butter)
- Flaxseeds or chia seeds
- Olive oil
Now these foods right here, they should be your best friend! Not only for a post-workout recovery but for so much more. Anti-inflammatory foods reduce inflammation, alleviate muscle soreness, and promote faster healing. Foods rich in antioxidants, omega-3 fatty acids, and phytonutrients have been shown to combat inflammation and support recovery. Most of these foods are great as a snack on their own or added as ingredients into your meal. Try adding a superfood powder into your daily diet to give you an additional boost. For those on a budget, you have a ton of natural foods to choose from and fuel up on.
Anti-inflammatory sources to try:
- Leafy greens (kale, spinach, Swiss chard)
- Berries (blueberries, raspberries, cherries)
- Fatty fish (salmon, tuna, mackerel)
- Nuts and seeds
- Olive oil
Hydration is key right? Hydration helps regulate body temperature, transport nutrients, and remove waste products. Besides having a well established diet, make sure to add in a few foods that have a high water content and will hydrate and nourish your body from within. Always remember to have a water bottle on hand to remember to drink enough water.
Hydrating food sources to try:
- Coconut water
RELATED: The Best Ways To Hydrate Quickly.
Foods to avoid eating after a workout.
Just like everything else in life, there’s the good, the bad and the ugly. And that counts for food too! There’s nothing wrong with indulging every now and then, but make sure your daily choices align with the goals you want.
- Fried foods: They are high in unhealthy fats and can slow down the digestion process, delaying the absorption of nutrients necessary for recovery.
- Sugary snacks and desserts: Foods high in processed sugars can cause a rapid spike in blood sugar levels, which may lead to energy crashes and hinder muscle recovery.
- Carbonated drinks: These can contribute to bloating and gas, affecting digestion and potentially causing discomfort.
- High-fiber foods: While fiber is generally important in a balanced diet, consuming large amounts of fiber immediately after a workout can delay nutrient absorption and cause digestive issues.
- Alcohol: It can dehydrate the body, hinder muscle recovery, and negatively impact sleep quality, which is crucial for recovery.
- Processed meats and fast food: These can be high in unhealthy fats, sodium, and additives, which can hinder recovery and overall health.
- Spicy foods: They may cause digestive distress and heartburn, making recovery uncomfortable.
- Caffeine: Though small amounts of caffeine can enhance performance during a workout, consuming it post-workout can interfere with the body’s natural recovery processes and disrupt sleep patterns.
It’s important to remember that post-workout nutrition varies depending on the intensity and duration of your workout, as well as your individual needs and preferences. However, these foods to eat for a post-workout recovery can serve as a good starting point to plan recovery meals and snacks.
Your Wellness Warrior.