What to Eat After a Workout

updated Jun 6, 2019
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Last week we asked you to share your favorite post-workout snacks, smoothies, or pick-me-ups. How do you refuel after an intense exercise session? What’s your secret to staying satisfied without going overboard? You offered your favorites, and we pooled the top five most popular recommendations. Check ’em out below:

The Kitchn Readers’ Top 5 Post-Workout Snacks

(Image credit: Apartment Therapy)

1. Greek yogurt, banana, and peanut butter. This powerful protein-carbs-fat trio was a popular choice for many Kitchn readers, who said it was filling enough to satisfy them after a hard workout and hold them until their next meal, but not too heavy or calorie-laden to blow all their hard work.

After I run always have a lot of water first and then hit the shower. This helps me cool down and decide how hungry I really am. Then, usually I go for a piece of fruit…for quick sugar energy and Greek yogurt for protein. After long runs (8+ miles) I’ll also have a banana or coconut water for electrolytes and potassium. MaxiR
I like to eat a banana covered in peanut butter after a hard workout. Drink plenty of water with it. Simple, delicious. Sometimes if I’m feeling fancy I make it into a peanut butter banana smoothie. – vanitos
Greek yogurt, mashed banana, and chia seeds is the perfect post-run treat. – mrb2001
As a rower in college, my coach was a fanatic about peanut butter, bananas and wheat bread. Not only is it a great post work-out food, those three items were always stocked at the dining hall. I used to wrap the peanut butter toast around the banana. Voila! A banana dog! – studiog

More Info and Recipes:
Banana Split with Yogurt and Jam
Peanut Butter Banana Breakfast Bread Pudding
• Yogurt Swirled with Peanut Butter, Honey, and Graham Crackers
Crunchy, Tangy, Sweet: 10 Favorite Add-ins to Yogurt

(Image credit: The Kitchn)

2. A fruit smoothie made with yogurt, milk, or soy milk. Protein-packed fruit smoothies were another popular recommendation. The sugars from the fruit provide the necessary carbs for refueling, while the protein (from yogurt, powders, or nut butters) helps fill you up.

I don’t like to eat too much right afterwards, so I usually end up making a smoothie. The ingredients depend on what I’ve got on hand – usually dates or a banana, soy or almond milk, ice, a little spoonful of nut butter, and a pinch of salt. – jkatk
I usually have a small berry smoothie with greek yogurt and agave or an apple and some cheddar cheese. – DanielleColorado
Protein shake! A cup of summer-frozen berries, 1/2 cup of yogurt, 1 scoop protein powder and a generous splash of milk. – BillieAnn

More Info and Recipes:
20 Smoothie Tips, Hints, and Recipes
5 Nourishing Whole-Grain Smoothies
• What Is the Best Protein Powder for Smoothies?
• Winter Smoothies: 5 Seasonal Add-ins

(Image credit: Leela Cyd)

3. Nut or energy bars. A high-protein nut bar helps keep you from feeling sluggish throughout the day. It’s also an easy and convenient snack, making it a preferred choice for those on-the-go:

I’m a cyclist that trains after work, so I usually eat a protein-rich snack around 5:00 before I leave work (almonds, cheese, greek yogurt, etc) so I’m not hungry during my workout. I eat something with easily available sugars immediately after my workout like a Glenny’s bar so that I can make dinner without feeling woozy. diedre.ribbens
I alternate between cardio and crossfit workouts, but always end up having the same snack afterwards – a high protein nut and peanut butter bar. Gives me the added energy I need to not feel sluggish for the rest of the day! – peggegarbe

More Info and Recipes:
How To Make Homemade Granola Bars
Recipe: Homemade Power Bars
• 6 Recipes for Homemade Energy Bars
4-Ingredient Banana Oat Bars
• 5 No-Bake Energy Bars
DIY Nutri-Grain Fruit and Nut Bars

(Image credit: Apartment Therapy)

4. Eggs + something starchy (usually bread or potatoes). Once again, a little protein paired with carbs is the magic combination. In this case, put an egg on it! Eggs on toast, egg salad, eggs with sweet potatoes … these were just a few of people’s favorite eggy post-workout snacks:

This weekend after a long afternoon hike I had a bowl of cottage cheese with banana and honey. This morning after a quicker but more intense hike I had poached eggs on whole wheat bread. – Sydog
I like to snack on something with carbs and protein in it. The protein helps to rebuild damaged muscle tissue, and the carbs replace your glycogen (read: energy) stores that were repleted during the workout. I’ll have vegetables and bean dip, a hard-boiled egg or egg salad, or yogurt with fruit. – A.Letarte
I exercise in the morning, so I usually have an egg casserole with a good amount of carbs (potatoes or sweet potatoes) in it, along with a few slices of avocado. – breezyslp
Coffee always, some eggs typically, and maybe a piece of homemade gluten free banana or pumpkin bread. – Christierei
(Image credit: Apartment Therapy)

5. Chocolate milk This was pretty surprising, but many readers cited chocolate milk as their favorite post-workout pick-me-up. A few even said that coaches and personal trainers turned them on to it:

The first hour after a workout is the key window for getting your body the protein to rebuild muscles, and some kind of sugar to keep you going while your body starts the recovery process. The magical formula for this? CHOCOLATE MILK. Seriously. There have been tests done and stuff. If my coach had a mantra, it would be “chocolate milk chocolate milk chocolate milk…” whispered during races. Because chocolate milk is (post-workout refueling) excellence. – studioG
For muscle recovery a blend of protein and simple carbs e.g. some sugar post-workout is important. I’ll often have a shake, but good ‘ol chocolate milk also fits the bill perfectly (in moderation of course!). – jessco3030
After my morning long runs, I refuel with flax seed (or other seed or berry) pancakes and a hot mug of coffee. Post-coffee refueling with powerade zero or water, chocolate soy milk if it was a particularly long run. – SchmidBC
I’m currently doing the Insanity program, but usually do a mix of yoga/running/pilates/Jillian Michaels etc. After a hard workout, I usually have chocolate milk, Aria whey protein powder in milk or water, sweet potatoes, or almonds and fruit. – kathleenelizabeth
I rely on chocolate milk (or hot chocolate in the winter) after a long run. Sometimes my stomach can’t take much more than that, and it gives me some fluid, carbs, and protein to get me through to when I can eat something ‘real’ – amendelblatt

Thanks for sharing your insights, everyone!

More Exercise and Eating Advice from The Kitchn

Refuel After a Workout: What To Eat When You Get Home from the Gym

• Best Workout Snacks: Do You Eat Before Exercising?

• What Should I Eat Before a Workout?

Make Your Own Healthy Sports Drink

• Natural Energy Foods: How To Ditch Packaged Bars and Drinks

(Images: 1+4. Leela Cyd Ross; 2. Flickr member elisasizzle licensed under Creative Commons; 3. Leanne Vogel/Healthful Pursuit; 5. Leela Cyd Ross; 6. Faith Durand)