Here’s What You Should Eat After A Workout

You spent the last hour sweating it out at the gym, and after chugging the last of whatever was in your S’well bottle, you’re ready for a snack. But what should you eat to make the most of all the hard work you just did?

After a workout, you need nutrients to help replenish and repair your muscles, according to Alissa Rumsey, MS, RD, CSCS, owner of Alissa Rumsey Nutrition and Wellness.

"The best foods for recovery include a mix of carbohydrate and protein, along with plenty of fluid to replace sweat losses," Rumsey says. Carbohydrates will help refuel the muscles you used during your workout and protein will help repair damaged muscle tissue and encourage the growth of new muscle, she explains.

You also may want to make sure that your post-exercise snack helps you replenish your short-term energy supply, known as glycogen, which you just used up during your workout. And don't skip out on the post-workout water bottle. "You’ve also probably lost fluids through perspiration, so you need to rehydrate yourself," nutritionist Christy Harrison says.

What's not-so-ideal? Large amounts of fat, sugar, and alcohol. Not that there's anything wrong with eating those foods, but if you're looking to refuel and replenish, they won't do much for you — and they could actually dehydrate you further.

While there isn't exactly an optimal time to snack after a workout, Harrison recommends eating within an hour of finishing "to give your body the tools to start repairing itself as soon as possible." If you don't feel hungry after exercising, try waiting up to half an hour before eating.

But if you're looking for more specific ideas for delicious and nutritious things to snack on post workout, we've rounded up a bunch of expert-approved ones here. And we'll be adding more ideas, so don't forget to check back if you need more inspiration.

Photographed by Jackie Alpers.
Banana with a tablespoon of nut butter and a glass of milk

This tasty carb and protein combination takes no time to prepare, and it could also be blended to make a creamy smoothie.
Getty Images
6 oz Greek yogurt and 1 cup of fruit

Ramsey recommends this healthy pairing, which has both protein from the yogurt and carbs from whatever fruit you decide to mix in or eat on the side.
Getty Images
Whole wheat English muffin topped with a scrambled egg and a sliced apple

Adding an apple to the side of your complex carb and protein sandwich adds a little sweetness to round out the snack.
Getty Images
Spaghetti with meat sauce

If spaghetti with meat sauce or meatballs, which contains both carbs and protein, is your jam, you can also enjoy it after a workout.

"Meals in all culinary traditions around the world typically include carbs, protein, fat, and vegetables," Harrison says. "So as long as you’re not doing some weird diet-y type meal (e.g. anything with low-carb substitutions), you’re good!"
Getty Images
Half a cup of cottage cheese with 1 cup of pineapple

This classic savory and sweet combo is a perfect protein and carb snack to eat after your workout.