Eating immediately following a workout isn’t always the first thing on your mind, but it’s important to replenish fluids and at least some nutrients soon after working out. You certainly shouldn’t sit down to a big meal of post-workout foods, but a small to moderately-sized meal is essential to your body’s recovery process. Without sufficient replenishment, you can dip down into low energy, moodiness, and compromise muscle recovery.
1. Peanut Butter
Eat it by the spoonful as long as it is not too processed or sugar-laden or maybe try it in a delicious peanut butter snack bar. When it comes to post-workout foods, whole foods are best. Many athletes even find that consuming peanut butter after a workout actually speeds up the recovery process. The average tablespoon of peanut butter delivers about 100 calories, 3.5 grams of protein, 8 grams of fat, and 3.5 grams of carbohydrates, all of which are important to the recovery process. Read up on our analysis and top peanut butter nutrition facts.
2. Chia Seeds
Chia seeds are a superfood and pack a lot of nutrition into just a tiny seed. These tiny powerhouses deliver a lot of energy to the body making them a perfect post-workout recovery snack. One ounce of chia seeds contains approximately 140 calories, 4 grams of protein, 9 grams of fat, and 12 grams of carbohydrates.
Having a spoonful of chia seeds mixed with peanut butter is a great post-workout food for recovery, but you can also easily make them into a simple and delightful pudding by soaking a quarter-cup of seeds in 1/2 cup almond milk for at least 30 minutes. Just stir in a little honey or maple syrup to sweeten and enjoy this delicious pudding right after your workout.
3. Protein-Rich Smoothie
Add plenty of protein to a post-workout smoothie using a whole food protein powder or some other favorite source of protein (e.g., whey powder, peanut butter powder), but don’t forget to add some good fats too like full-fat coconut milk or nutritional oils like pumpkinseed, flaxseed, or hemp seed oil.
If you have bananas that are just a bit overripe, peel them, cut them into easily blendable chunks, and place them in a freezer bag in your freezer. You can then easily add some frozen bananas to your smoothies to make them a little sweeter and provide great recovery nutrients like potassium. Adding some frozen wild blueberries to your protein shake may also help to speed recovery. Adding some fresh spinach leaves will help replenish minerals.
If your energy tends to dip low after a vigorous workout, try quinoa. Quinoa is excellent post-workout food with one cooked cup containing about 39 grams of carbohydrates and an amazing 9 grams of protein. Quinoa also has vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and a low glycemic index, so it will not cause a major spike in blood sugar levels.
You can sweeten some cooked quinoa with banana slices, frozen wild blueberries, a bit of coconut oil, and raw honey. Or, make it savory by adding avocado slices, a drizzle of your favorite olive oil, and a dash of a mineral-rich salt such as Himalayan salt.
5. Eggs and Whole Grain Toast
It’s not just for breakfast anymore. When it comes to post-workout foods, an egg lightly fried in coconut oil on a piece of whole-grain toast is a great way to meet your body’s protein, fat, and carbohydrate needs. Top it off by adding extra minerals with a dash of Himalayan salt, a few leaves of mineral-rich spinach, and a few slices of avocado for extra good fats.
In general, for post-workout nutrition stick with high protein whole food sources that have a good balance of fats and carbohydrates. Avoid dense proteins so that your body can easily incorporate the food, leaving you feeling your best. Your body works most easily with whole food nutrition sources, so try to stick with whole foods post-workout and avoid processed foods and foods with lots of extra added sugar.