Here are six of the best foods to munch on right after working out to help your body and muscles recover and repair.
Or cottage cheese. “Both offer an excellent source of protein post-workout,” says sports dietitian Angie Asche. For an extra antioxidant and carbohydrate boost, she recommends adding fresh berries or diced vegetables. Extra bonus? “Calcium and vitamin D-rich foods help strengthen bones and prevent fractures.”
2. Hummus and Whole Grain Crackers
“After a workout, your body likes carbohydrate-containing foods because it's burned through all its energy stores,” nutritionist Lindsey Joe explains. To replenish these stores (aka glycogen), top a couple of whole grain crackers with protein-rich (and totally delicious) hummus.
And not just the whites. “Egg yolks contain several vital nutrients for brain and bone health,” says Asche. She suggests packing a few hard-boiled eggs into your gym bag for a quick and easy source of protein, teamed with a slice of whole wheat toast for additional carbs post-workout.
4. Protein Shakes
Yes, again. “Liquid nutrition is a great choice for a post-workout meal because it absorbs [more easily than solids] and can therefore be used faster by your body,” says Reed.
5. Smoked Salmon
Fatty fish are known for their inflammation busting abilities, and research published in the Clinical Journal of Sports Medicine found that omega-3 fatty acids can also help ease delayed onset muscle soreness (DOMS) after exercise. Try spreading a whole-grain wrap with a thin layer of cream cheese and topping it with smoked salmon for a delicious and portable snack.
6. Low-Fat Chocolate Milk
If you find it hard to eat right after exercising, the American Council on Exercise suggests trying liquid foods instead of solids. And chocolate milk is a great choice, thanks to its tasty mix of carbs, protein and water. (Just go easy on the sugar.)
The Bottom Line
We'll note that these foods are just suggestions. Everyone, of course, has different preferences, palates and workout targets, meaning that while you can absolutely fuel up with any of the foods mentioned above, it's important to find what works best for you, your body and your goals.