Whether you’re doing strength training or getting in a good cardio session, the best thing you can do afterwards is to hydrate and refuel your body. To do that, it’s important to eat the right foods that are going to deliver all the nutrients and nourishment your body needs the most after an intense workout.
If you skip out on eating after your workout is done, it can have some negative side effects. For example, your body will start taking up stored energy, which means it’ll tap into your glycogen stores. Your body actually needs and uses these to keep your blood sugar level stable. A sweaty workout also means you likely lost a lot of electrolytes that need to be replenished as well. That can lead to muscle cramping and even dehydration if you don’t get plenty of water.
Eating the right foods after a good sweat session is equally as important as the workout itself. Chowing down on something nutritious will allow your body to replenish its depleted stores of glycogen and repair any damaged muscle tissue to build new tissue. That’s going to be key in getting that strong, toned body you’ve worked so hard for.
To help you make a smart choice on what to eat after your workout, we’re sharing five of the best post workout foods you should incorporate into your diet!
1. A Nutrient-Dense Smoothie
If you’re looking for something you can easily take on-the-go, why not make a smoothie? You can prepare the ingredients beforehand and blend it up once your workout is complete. It’s simple to take with you, but it’s also an easy way to get in plenty of fruits, veggies, and other replenishing nutrients.
You could try adding some protein powder or Greek yogurt for a protein boost. And you can incorporate healthy fats like avocado or nut butter. Both are great sources of monounsaturated fats, which help regulate your blood cholesterol levels. Alternatively, you can even add a scoop of flaxseeds or use flaxseed oil for some omega-3 fatty acids. The options really are endless when it comes to smoothies, so you can fully customize it to your tastes. It’s a great way to get the perfect balance of the protein and carbs your body needs to refuel.
2. Nut Butter & Banana Sandwich
In need of something that has complex and simple carbs, protein, and potassium? This combination is a great one to try. You can smear a little bit of your favorite nut butter onto a slice of whole wheat bread (or gluten-free, if needed). Then, top with bananas for a good dose of potassium.
Potassium is especially important to eat because your potassium level decreases during a workout. It you don’t restore these levels, it can lead to muscle cramping, fatigue, heart palpitations, and other issues. That’s why you’ll want to add something like bananas or even raisins to a sandwich like this. It tastes great, but still helps your body recover after a grueling workout.
3. Avocado Toast with Hardboiled Eggs
If you’re a big fan of avocado toast, you can enjoy it as a post-workout meal by adding some hardboiled eggs. Eggs are a great source of protein to have after you’ve gotten in the day’s exercise. Not only that, but they contain essential vitamins and minerals your body needs, including vitamin D. And they complement this sandwich perfectly.
All you need to do is get a slice of whole wheat toast (which delvers the complex carbs), add on the avocado for a dose of healthy fats, and then top it off with your hardboiled eggs. Of course, you don’t have to go with hardboiled eggs if you don’t want. You can cook your eggs however you like. And for a little extra kick, add some crushed red pepper for additional flavor.
Another great option to eat after your workout is salmon. It’s beneficial in a number of ways, primarily because it’s packed with good-for-you omega-3 fatty acids. A recent study suggests that these fatty acids can help reduce muscle soreness and inflammation after exercising. Other great sources of omega-3 fatty acids include chia seeds, flax seeds, and walnuts. However, the lean protein in salmon is beneficial because it can help repair your muscles as well.
You can enjoy your salmon in a number of ways, which makes it a versatile post-workout food. Eat it on its own, add it to a salad, or have it as your entree with veggies on the side. Salmon goes well with sweet potatoes, which will help you get in your complex carbs as well. This is beneficial for restoring your glycogen levels, which deplete after a workout.
5. Chocolate Milk
It may sound a little surprising, but the favorite drink of your youth is actually a great post-workout treat. In fact, many people seem to be reaching for chocolate milk instead of their usual electrolyte drinks like Gatorade. The reason for this is that chocolate milk contains carbs and protein to help your muscles recover, plus its water content helps replace the fluids you lost when sweating.
You might be wondering if you really need to go for chocolate milk or if regular, plain milk is enough. The reason you want to go for a flavored milk is because there are additional sugars that create the perfect balance of carbs and protein for refueling.
Everything you need is in one glass to help your body regain energy and rehydrate after an intense workout. And who wouldn’t love an excuse to indulge in a chocolatey treat? Just pour yourself a glass within 30 to 60 minutes after your workout and enjoy! It’ll certainly give you something to look forward to once your sweat session is complete.