What Are The Best Post-Workout Foods? | Stephen Coleclough
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What Are The Best Post-Workout Foods?

What Are The Best Post-Workout Foods?

The foods that you eat after a workout can have a dramatic impact on how quickly you recover and how much the physical condition of your body improves from the workout.

If you don’t get the right kinds of nutrients, you may find that your gains are very slow or that you plateau out.

In this article, I’ll share several foods that have been scientifically proven to lock in gains from a work out.

These foods have the potential to dramatically improve how much benefit you obtain from each workout.

Why is eating the right post-workout foods important?

To get an idea of the importance of post-workout nutrition, let’s take a quick look at what happens to your body during and after a workout.

The first major change is that your glycogen levels will be reduced.

Glycogen is a carbohydrate that is used by the muscles as a source of energy.

It comes from the glucose in your blood, which is mostly obtained from carbohydrates.

The second major change is that your muscle fibres will become broken down or damaged.

This is a normal part of the muscle building process.

After you finish the workout, your body will begin to repair these broken muscle fibres through a cellular process.

This process forms new muscle protein strands, which are thicker and greater in number than the previous strands.

The primary nutrients that your body will need to deal with these changes are:


Protein will help your body repair and rebuild muscle


Carbohydrates will replenish your muscle’s glycogen stores, reduce recovery time, and support muscle growth


Although fats are less important, they can help the body by boosting cholesterol levels, which supports testosterone production.

Testosterone supports muscle growth.

 If you fail to obtain a sufficient amount of proteins and carbohydrates post-workout, your recovery will be slower, your muscle gains may not be as good, and you may find yourself lacking energy.

When to eat a post-workout meal?

Researchers have discovered that the body’s ability to restore glycogen and rebuild muscle fibres is enhanced shortly after exercising.

That’s why most fitness experts suggest that you have something to eat within 45 minutes of completing a workout.

However, some research also suggests that a meal eaten before a workout can provide your body with the carbohydrates and protein it needs post-workout.

So, there may be occasions where you ate before the workout and that will be enough to carry you through.

As always, listen to your body.

What are the best post-workout foods?

So, what should you be eating post-workout?

Here are a few of the best options.


Fruits (blueberries, strawberries, banana, kiwi, pineapple)

Fruits are packed with glucose, which will help to restore your body’s glycogen levels very quickly.

The great thing about fruits is that they can be used in conjunction with protein foods to make a delicious smoothie.

Rice and pasta

Rice and pasta are both excellent sources of complex carbohydrates that will provide  you will sustained energy after a workout and help you rebuild glycogen stores.


Potatoes are a delicious complex carbohydrate that is packed with vitamins, minerals, and fibre.

Sweet potatoes are particularly high in nutrients.

Try steaming a potato and adding some cottage cheese, sour cream, and sweet chill sauce.

Chocolate milk

Chocolate milk is packed with simple carbohydrates and protein.

It will help you bounce back from a workout very quickly.


This is an outstanding complex carbohydrate that provides long last energy and supports glycogen restoration. 


Quinoa is one of those hyped up superfoods that actually delivers great results.

It is high in both carbohydrates and protein — supplying all nine essential amino acids.

It also has fibre, B vitamins, iron, potassium, calcium, and a ton of antioxidants.

Dark, leafy green vegetables

Dark leafy vegetable are complex carbohydrates that are packed with vitamins and minerals.

Some of the best choices include spinach, broccoli, kale, and collard greens.



The humble egg is one of the most powerful foods you have available.

It is an incredible source of protein, fat, B vitamins, and good cholesterol.

Eggs also have plenty of trace minerals including potassium, iron, and zinc.

Cottage cheese

Cottage cheese is the healthiest of the cheeses — delivering a boost to your protein levels with less saturated fat than most other cheese.

Greek yoghurt

Greek yoghurt is the ultimate post-workout food.

It contains many healthy ingredients including protein, B12, potassium, probiotics, and calcium.

It’s a great snack for replenishing your  energy levels and giving your muscles the fuel they need to grow.

Whey protein powder

If you don’t have any time available to prepare food, you could opt for a shake containing whey protein powder.

This type of protein comes from whey — a liquid separated from milk during the cheese making process.

It contains all of the essential amino acids and is easy for the body to digest.

Whey protein powder will promote muscle growth, reduce inflammation, and enhance the action of antioxidants in the body.

Salmon and tuna

Fatty fish like salmon and tuna are loaded with protein and omega-3 fatty acids, which can boost your overall health and reduce the risk of several chronic illnesses.


Chicken is an excellent source of lean, low-fat protein which contributes to muscle growth.

It is also high in several vitamins and minerals including Vitamin B6, phosphorus, selenium, and Vitamin B2.


Some healthy fats that make a great post-workout snack include avocado, nut butters (almond butter and peanut butter), nuts, and trail mix.

Thanks for reading What Are The Best Post-Workout Foods?

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Stephen Coleclough
Stephen Coleclough

Stephen Coleclough is a personal trainer and online fitness/nutrition coach from the UK. He loves heavy squats, smashing PRs and bacon sandwiches. You can follow him on Twitter at ColecloughPT.

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