Whether you want to lose weight, bulk up, or build muscles, our list of best post-workout meal ideas rich in carbs, proteins, and essential nutrients is good for everyone.
Many fitness enthusiasts prioritize a pre-workout meal but overlook the importance of eating after a workout.
In this article, we will specifically focus on foods rich in essential nutrients helpful in post-workout recovery. They are meal ideas that you can try and explore different ways of enjoying eating food.
Remember, if you want to recover well from an exhausting workout, take care of the food nourishment or it will become one of the reasons why exercise makes you tired and not energized.
What to Eat post-workout?
In a post-workout meal, eat foods rich in carbs and proteins that digest easily. They will lead to faster nutrient absorption and speed up muscle recovery.
Listed below are the best post-workout foods rich in carbs and proteins:
Foods Rich in Carbohydrates:
Some of the best post-workout carbs are:
- Sweet potatoes
- Chocolate Milk
- Fruits like pineapple, berries, banana, kiwi
- Rice cakes
- Green vegetables
Foods Rich in Proteins:
Some of the best post-workout Proteins are:
- Protein powder
- Protein bar
13 Best Post Workout Meals
Ideally, post-workout meals should be rich in protein, low in fats, and contain complex carbs. Especially if you do an intense workout, you should choose your post-workout food wisely.
Below we have listed 13 meal ideas rich in essential nutrients, making them perfect for eating after the workout:
1. Grilled Chicken with Roasted Vegetables
It is totally OK to cook chicken and vegetables together. As long as your food handling is safe throughout the preparation and baking process, there is nothing odd in this combination.
In fact, it’s a luxury for people who eat vegetarian and non-vegetarian food alike to enjoy this mix of food that is rich in all kinds of nutrients.
The more there is variety in food and the more your food is organic and natural, the better the chances of optimal health and recovery from heavy workouts.
You can try many recipes where vegetables and meat work together to produce a tasty post-workout meal.
2. Egg Omelet with Avocado and Toast
An egg omelet with avocado and toast is just an example, there are a ton of other things you can do with eggs to make it a part of a post-workout meal.
Let’s begin with a fact that everyone agrees upon: Eggs are super rich in proteins.
In fact, there are things about egg proteins and eggs in general that are totally unique to any other eatable food in the world.
For example, the ovalbumin protein responsible for egg white formation is a unique protein you won’t find in any other food. Egg whites are considered a complete protein and help your body to function correctly.
Other than that, there are at least 7 ways you can make eggs part of your food and cooking. They are:
- Using eggs as a thickening agent in custards and sauces
- eggs can be used as a leavening agent in cakes
- it can be used as a volume-increasing agent in frostings and meringues
- eggs can be used as an emulsifier in dressings and mayonnaise
- eggs can be used as a binder in cream puffs or meat loafs
- the coating ability of eggs can help crumbs or flour adhere to chicken or fish
- and eggs can also be used to clarify stocks and consommes
So, these are some exciting ways to incorporate eggs into your post-workout meal.
Also, it’s not necessary to fry or make an omelet. You can mix it with other foods and get the required proteins that your body needs in post-workout food nourishment.
3. Salmon and Sweet Potatoes
Technically, a white potato contains all the essential amino acids needed to build proteins, repair cells, & fight diseases.
If there weren’t vitamin and mineral deficiencies, this one food would have been enough to eat all the time and live a healthy life.
Salmon and sweet potatoes are an awesome combination for post-workout eating.
They are tasty and digest easily plus together they are giving you proteins and carbs necessary for the body to recover quickly from a heavy workout.
4. Tuna Salad Sandwich with whole-grain Bread
Bread comes in many forms. Whole-grain bread is much more nutritious than simple bread. In contrast, white bread has no nutritional value and only consists of carbs.
Those carbs quickly convert into sugar upon eating, and that’s a very bad thing.
As a rule of thumb, it is important to eat the kind of foods that convert slowly into sugars or don’t convert into sugars at all.
Because the body can’t always keep up the pace of generating the insulin to balance sugars coming in from food and it can result in many health problems.
The good news? Whole grain bread reduces the risk of chronic diseases like cancer, type 2 diabetes, and cardiovascular disease.
When you eat whole grain bread with foods like tuna and vegetables, you are giving your body the nutrients that it needs.
Nutrients like zinc, calcium, magnesium, and potassium all get covered in your diet when you mix whole grain bread with vegetables like different salads.
5. Whey protein, Oatmeal, Almonds, and Bananas
Want a nutrient-dense meal without much preparation? Then whey protein, oatmeal, almonds, and bananas are great options to enjoy a quick post-workout meal.
You can buy whey protein online here. At the same time, all other foods, including oatmeal, almonds, and bananas, are readily available in the market.
This combination is enough to give you the nutritional boost necessary for the body to recover from the workout.
6. Cottage Cheese and Fruits
Fresh cheese curd, also known as cottage cheese, has a mild flavor & a creamy soupy texture that is non-homogenous.
This is another post-workout food idea that doesn’t need any preparation and can be bought online. Once opened, a single packet can last up to 2 weeks easily but do take care of putting it in a cool place like the fridge.
Cheese curd contains both proteins and carbs and a low amount of fat. It is the best option if you don’t want to eat fruits without mixing them with something.
Overall, it makes a very nice and tasty post-workout meal with fruits.
7. Pita with hummus
Pita bread and hummus are a healthy combo of food that will keep you full for hours.
The spread in it is made from chickpeas, which are rich in potassium, calcium, vitamin A, & folate, among other vitamins.
The protein and healthy fat in pitta and hummus combined with a delicious taste are all you need in a post-workout meal.
The whole wheat pita bread makes it a complete snack that will keep you full for hours and help to recover from a workout.
8. Peanut Butter with some Rice Crackers
Peanut butter with rice crackers is a good combination for an in-between meal. It is an inexpensive and good source of proteins, dietary fibers, minerals, and B vitamins.
If you want to wait for lunch or dinner after a workout but your stomach is empty and craving food, this combination will work well for you.
It’s an easily digestible food combination made up of healthy nutrients.
9. Almond Butter with Grain Toast
For a protein-filled breakfast in a post-workout meal, almond butter and grain toast is an excellent combination.
You can pack a savory almond butter sandwich in no time. Want to know how? Spread some almonds and butter on whole grain bread and if possible, add in some cucumbers, bean sprouts, jicama, apple slices, or chia seeds.
Or if you think that’s too much, just go with almond butter on a grain of toast. That will be enough for essential nutrients rich post-workout meals.
10. Skim Milk and Cereal
Cereals come in a lot of flavors nowadays. But the good thing is they all are nutritious and easy to digest.
Milk is good for taking care of your calcium needs and helps the bones stay strong. Skim milk and cereals are the best choices if you want some quick yet light post-workout meal.
11. Yogurt, Berries, and Granola
Granola is high in sugar food. Combined with milk, natural yogurt, or fresh fruits, this surgery food can become a more balanced breakfast. Also, it will add calcium, protein, vitamins & minerals to your post-workout meal.
12. Protein shake and Banana
Bananas go well with a protein shake. They offer a sweet flavor plus creamy texture, but they are also packed with powerful nutrients & fiber that keep you feeling full until lunchtime. So, when are you trying the yummy protein shake with a banana?
Most pizza options are usually high-calorie junk foods. Hence, it is believed that you can’t add pizza to your post-workout diet plan.
But it’s a myth, and you can make a nutritious pizza at home. Make sure you choose healthy toppings and avoid pizzas with pepperoni and sausage. Also, don’t add bacon because they contain unhealthy fats and too many calories.
Pizza is packed with protein and carbs. These nutrients are essential for building muscle and helping you recover after a workout.
Check out our detailed article on eating pizza after a workout.
Why is a post-workout meal important?
After putting a lot of effort into a workout, the body gets tired and besides rest, it craves food. For recovery and the best performance in the next workout, it is hence necessary to eat a post-workout meal.
The goal of Eating Food After Workout:
Eating food after a workout aims to help glycogen repair and speed up recovery.
During workouts, muscles use their glycogen stores for fuel. As a result, they get momentarily depleted of glycogen. Some of the proteins in the muscles also break and get damaged.
So, after the workout, the body tries to rebuild glycogen stores and regrow muscle proteins. This is where the right nutrients after a workout play their role. Nutrients help your body get the recovery done faster.
Evidently, Carbs and Proteins after a workout are the best nutrients. They help:
- minimize muscle protein breakdown
- increase muscle protein growth
- improve glycogen stores
- and speed up recovery
When to eat after a workout?
It is recommended to eat food within 45 minutes after working out.
Though the timing does not need to be exact, it is better to eat something as early as possible.
In fact, experts say that the delay in carbs consumption as little as two hours after a workout can lead to 50% lower rates of glycogen synthesis. But if a meal is consumed before a workout, it is expected that the benefits from that meal will still help after a workout.
Putting all things together:
Consuming carbs and proteins is highly important after a workout. They stimulate muscle protein synthesis, enhance the body’s recovery and improve your performance for the next workout.
Try to eat within 45 minutes after the workout or eat something an hour or two before exercising so that the effects of nourishment and repair food will bring to your body are still there.
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