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5 Best Foods to Eat After a Workout for Optimal Recovery (+3 Meal Ideas)

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Looking for the best foods to eat after a workout?

Choosing your post-workout meal is a tricky decision.

You’ve committed and pushed yourself hard during your workout. You’re drenched in sweat, feeling high off your endorphins, and proud of your intense and gratifying session. You’re ready to start your morning!

Now you’re one hungry, ravenous beast. You can ravage anything in sight. 

The wrong meal can leave your energy crashing. Overeating can have you undermining your efforts at the gym. And if you don’t properly feed yourself, then your body goes into fatigue mode.

That’s why you must leave no room for error and plan your post-workout meal. 

But before we get into the five best food ideas for your post-workout nosh, let’s go over a little

Post-Exercise Meal Science

When you exercise, your body goes through a two-part process called protein turnover

Part 1: Protein breakdown: Your muscles break down during your workout, tearing at a microscopic level. 

Part 2: Protein synthesis: After your workout, your body goes into repair mode and rebuilds the tiny tears into stronger muscle fibers.  

Your body is now seeking protein to help the protein synthesis process, and carbohydrates replenish glycogen (glucose energy) stored during your workout. 

There has been a little controversy amongst fitness industry experts about the correct ratio of protein to carbs you should have after a workout. Some say the golden ratio is 4:1 (four grams of carbohydrates to one gram of protein.) 

Some say 2:1, and some say 3:1. But for the person who exercises for general health, you probably need some combination of protein and carbohydrates along with water since you’ll be dehydrated from sweating.

Benefits of Proper Fuel

  • Improved recovery
  • Less muscle soreness
  • Increased ability to build muscle
  • Improved immune function
  • Improved bone mass
  • Improved ability to utilize body fat

5 Best Food Ideas to Eat After a Workout for Weight Loss


Best Foods to Eat After a Workout #1: Chocolate Milk 

If you are an avid protein shake drinker and looking for a budget-friendly option, chocolate milk will save your day. Long gone are the days of mixing chocolate milk with cereal. Adults who exercise can benefit from chocolate milk, too!

Chocolate milk yields the 4:1 carb-to-protein-ration, as mentioned above. Researchers have done studies on chocolate milk, determining its potency for optimal muscle recovery, given you drink it in a two-hour window after exercise.  

Best Foods to Eat After a Workout #2: Bananas 

Ah, the humble banana, you either love them or hate them, but you can’t deny the versatility of this fruit. It’s fuss-free, high in fiber, and helps with sugar cravings.  

But more importantly, these suckers are known for being rich in potassium, which aids in protein synthesis, boosts metabolism, and balances PH levels. That’s why they tell you to eat a banana if you wake up with a leg cramp.

Best Foods to Eat After a Workout #3: Avocado

Are you tired of the avocado trend yet? Sorry, sista, avocados are here to stay. These guys are nutrient-dense and ultra-high in fat. Not to worry if you still have a little fear of fat. The once-villainized macronutrient has fully redeemed itself. 

Long story short, not all fats are created equal. The American Heart Association suggests minimizing the consumption of saturated fats (fats in animal products) for better health. Conversely, they recommend consuming more monounsaturated fats, the good fats that aid in brain functioning found in avocados. 

Best Foods to Eat After a Workout #4: Tart Cherries or Tart Cherry Juice

Are you wondering why cherries made the list? So, there’s been a lot of hype around the subject and multiple research studies on endurance athletes and weightlifters using cherry juice and powders.

Tart cherries, not to be mistaken with sweet cherries, contain a high level of antioxidants and anti-inflammatory compounds, which proves that the tart cherry variety is beneficial in relieving muscle pain after intense exercise. 

Best Foods to Eat After a Workout #5: Turmeric

Surprise, surprise, turmeric is on the list. This orangy root has been beloved for centuries by Ayurvedic practitioners for its medicinal healing properties. Aside from relieving gas, improving digestion, relieving arthritis, and helping your skin glow, this superhero spice contains a substance called curcumin. Curcumin is a powerful antioxidant and anti-inflammatory that can be your secret weapon when DOMS (delayed onset muscle soreness) sets on.

3 Post-Workout Meal Ideas

Sweet Potato Chocolate Milk

Courtesy of Healthful Pursuit

This recipe is an excellent alternative for people who can’t have dairy. Check out this popular recipe here!

Anti-Inflammatory Tart Cherry Smoothie Recipe

Courtesy of Very Well Fit

Get the recipe here!

Turmeric Sweet Potato Pasta Salad and More Recipes

Courtesy of Jar of Lemons

Here’s Jar of Lemon’s post with eight easy turmeric recipes! 

I hope you enjoyed the post!

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Hi, welcome! I'm Susan, the creator and writer of Manifestaire. My mission is to help you explore the powers of your being so you can create a magical life you love! Here, you can find articles on manifestation, spirituality, metaphysics, yoga, wellness, and so much more.
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