by Matt Weik, BS, CSCS, CPT, CSN
You’ve been working out. It hurts a little, but it’s paying off. Now, you’re hungry after the workout and want to eat something that will help with your muscle recovery and growth. What do you do? Not sure? Well, we have tested a lot of post-workout snacks over the years and have compiled a list with our top 11 picks for you.
11 Post-Workout Snacks Suggested by Trainers and Dieticians
After a good workout, it’s important to refuel your body so that you can get the most out of your workout. This is especially true when you’re trying to build muscle or lose weight.
The best post-workout snacks are those that are high in protein and carbohydrates. Both of these nutrients will help your body recover from the stress of exercise and help you gain muscle or further allow you to burn fat.
Here are some of our favorite post-workout snacks:
1. Turmeric Smoothie
The benefits of turmeric are well known, especially when it comes to fighting inflammation and boosting immunity. This smoothie combines turmeric with ginger for an extra boost of anti-inflammatory goodness. It’s great for recovery after an intense workout. Add some protein powder into the mix, and you’re good to go.
2. Egg and Toast
This is a classic post-workout meal because it contains carbs, protein, and healthy fat — all nutrients your body needs after working out. You can also add veggies like tomatoes or spinach for an extra nutrient boost.
3. Crackers and Canned Tuna
These two foods are an effective combination because they both contain protein, which will help your muscles recover from your workout. Plus, if you’re looking for something more substantial than crackers, canned tuna is also rich in omega-3 fats that help reduce inflammation post-workout.
4. Greek Yogurt
Greek yogurt is a great choice as one of your post-workout snacks. Greek yogurt contains protein and carbohydrates, which help replenish energy stores after an intense workout. It also contains beneficial bacteria called probiotics, which aid digestion and improve overall health.
5. Trail Mix
Trail mix is a really good post-workout snack because it provides all three macronutrients needed to recover from a hard workout — carbohydrates, protein, and fat — in one portable package that’s easy to eat while walking back to your car or home after a long run.
Just make sure you buy trail mix made with mostly nuts (almonds and peanuts) and seeds (sunflower seeds) rather than candy bars or other sugary snacks that will spike your blood sugar levels and leave you feeling weak and tired instead of energized.
6. Peanut Butter Banana Protein Smoothie
This smoothie is an excellent post-workout snack, and it’s packed with protein to help build muscle. The banana provides potassium for electrolyte balance and energy, while the peanut butter gives healthy fats for more sustained energy as well as a dose of protein.
This smoothie is also low in sugar and calories, making it perfect for those who want to keep their weight down without sacrificing nutrition.
7. Protein Popcorn
Protein popcorn is one of the most convenient post-workout snacks because it contains many of the nutrients your body needs after working out and is compact and easy to eat. It has protein, which is essential for muscle growth, as well as fiber and carbohydrates.
The carbs help replenish your glycogen stores (the energy your muscles require), while fiber helps prevent constipation and keep you feeling full longer. Protein popcorn can also be made with coconut oil instead of butter or oil, which makes it healthier than traditional popcorn.
8. Chocolate Milk
Chocolate milk is one of the most popular and effective post-workout snacks. It’s high in carbohydrates, which help restore glycogen stores in your muscles, and it has about as much protein as other high-protein foods like yogurt or a small steak. Chocolate milk also contains electrolytes, which help replace those lost during exercise.
9. Sweet Potatoes
They are an excellent source of carbohydrates, which your body can use to recover from exercise, and they contain potassium, which helps the body retain water and sodium.
Sweet potatoes also contain vitamin E, which is vital for muscle repair. Sweet potatoes have anti-inflammatory properties that can also help reduce muscle soreness after a hard workout.
Sardines are one of the best post-workout snacks. While some people can’t stomach the thought of eating sardines, many people swear by them post-workout.
Protein is key after you train, and sardines are slammed with it. They’re also rich in omega-3 fatty acids, which help reduce inflammation and boost muscle recovery.
Sardines also contain selenium and vitamin D, both of which can help prevent muscle soreness and promote faster recovery from training. And they’re easy to eat — just open the can and pop them into your mouth!
11. Protein Powder with a Banana
Mix together one scoop of whey protein with one large banana and blend until smooth. This snack provides plenty of carbs and protein to help you recover from your workout. If you want to change the texture of your shake, freeze the banana and then toss it into your shake for a thicker and creamier post-workout treat.