Post-Workout Eats

By Desiree Nielsen 

Thursday, May 17th

Food is fuel. But it’s also connection, culture and pleasure. Of course, when we’re engaged in moving our bodies, ensuring that you get everything you need to stay strong all month long is important!

Post-workout meals help replenish your body’s nutrition so that you can restore glycogen levels for tomorrow’s workout and provide amino acids for muscle repair and growth. Most often, we can do this with real food. For example, if you’re fitting in a lunchtime workout, simply eat lunch! You want a balanced meal with slow burn carbohydrates like sprouted grain bread and veggies, some lean protein and a bit of healthy fat. A sandwich with salmon or smoked tofu, lots of greens and avocado will get you there.

But what if your workout isn’t close to meal time? Ideally, eating within two hours will help maximize recovery so if your next meal is more than two hours away, consider packing a post-workout snack. Typically, you want both protein and carbohydrate post-workout for optimal recovery. It could be as simple as a protein shake with 20 grams of protein that you can shake up with water and eat with an apple or banana. You could also have some chopped vegetables with hummus and sliced turkey. If you’re on the go, hit the nearest smoothie bar for a smoothie, with plenty of greens and protein powder. Try to keep the added juices to a minimum to avoid more sugar than you need.

For athletes, your protein needs post-workout may be a lot higher; be sure to get individualized advice to help you avoid fatigue. Getting adequate nutrition post-workout will help to keep your immune system strong and make it easier to get back out there the next day.


Desiree Nielsen is a registered dietitian based in Vancouver, British Columbia. She runs a nutrition consulting practice with a focus on inflammation, digestion and plant-centred diets. Desiree is the author of a book on anti-inflammatory nutrition called Un-Junk Your Diet: How to shop, cook and eat to fight inflammation and feel better, forever and her new cookbook, Eat More Plants: 100 Anti-inflammatory Plant-centred Recipes for Vibrant Living is slated for release August 2019 with Penguin Canada. She is also the host of The Urban Vegetarian on Gusto TV and co-founder of My Healthy Gut, an innovative and research-backed iOS app for digestive health.