Once your workout is over, it can be tempting to shower and then retire to the nearest comfortable chair. But before you settle in for a well-deserved rest — or at your desk for a full day of work — it’s important to replenish what you lost during exercise.
Refueling after an intense workout rebuilds and repairs your muscles, as well as replaces electrolytes and glycogen. For endurance athletes or powerlifters, this might require a very specific breakdown of protein and carbs, but for most of us, a simple snack does the trick.
To inspire your next post-workout recovery, we asked six fitness pros what they eat after they exercise.
“I’m usually not very hungry for a big meal after I work out, so I opt for a post-workout plant-based protein smoothie (almond milk, banana, organic frozen strawberries, almond butter and plant-based protein powder). The mix of protein and carbohydrates helps to stabilize your blood sugar and rebuild muscles after a sweat session. And the smoothie itself is thick and creamy like a milkshake without the dairy, which I personally stay away from because it’s highly inflammatory.”
— Liz Arch, yoga instructor and founder of Primal Yoga
“I never drink water while I teach, so I overcompensate once I’m finished. It’s usually infused with some sort of fresh fruit only because I find it refreshing, and it makes drinking all that water a little more enjoyable.”
— Jasmine Zutter, owner and spin instructor at Class Studios
“Studies have shown that chocolate milk is great recovery fuel, and it does the trick for me. It’s got protein and carbs, and it goes down easily. That’s important for me, because many times after I work out, I know that I need something, but I don’t feel like eating actual food.”
— Chris Coggins, high school track coach and private running coach
“My workouts usually follow breakfast, so I place more of an emphasis on hydration and replenishment afterwards. I always go for either a sports drink or electrolyte water following a sweat session, and if I’m feeling depleted, I will make a protein smoothie.”
— Liz Terry, certified personal trainer and core instructor at Lync Cycling
“I consume a lot of calories in the morning before I work out, so afterward, I don’t need a whole lot to hold me over until lunch. Many days I’ll eat an apple with peanut butter for some quick carbs, protein and fiber. And I always drink a ton of water during and after exercising.”
— Matthew Martin, certified personal trainer and CrossFit Coach
“A shake with 2 cups oats, 35 grams whey protein, spinach, cucumber, broccoli sprouts, banana, blueberries, strawberries, Onnit Electrolytes, Onnit Glutamine, Onnit Creatine, coconut water and a half avocado. It’s a great way to get some liquid that’s easy to digest and absorb, and a good time to get a ton of carbs and protein into my system. Normally I will then eat a meal about an hour later consisting of an 8-ounce sirloin steak, one whole potato and greens.”
— Cristian Plascencia, senior durability coach at Onnit Academy