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What to Eat AFTER a Workout and WHY

Updated: Jul 13, 2020

Have you ever heard the expression "you can't out train a bad diet"? Nutrition plays an important role in fueling and recovery for exercise. Adequate amounts and timing of nutrients can help muscle growth and recovery, exercise performance, and endurance among other benefits! We have all heard about the importance of protein, carbohydrates, and fluid after a workout, but does everyone know why and what effect it is having on your body?

During a workout, your muscles use up carbohydrate stores (called glycogen) for energy and the right balanced post-workout meal can help your body restore glycogen, repair and grow muscles, as well as to reduce soreness and restore energy levels. It's all about the right combination of carbohydrates, proteins, fluid, antioxidants and healthy fats, and here’s how:


Hydration is a leading cause of fatigue and poor performance in athletes. It is important to replace the sweat lost during your workout, so make sure to drink plain water during and after your workout as well as for the rest of the day! For longer, harder training sessions, you might benefit from a fluid source containing carbohydrates (like Gatorade or Powerade), book an appointment with one of our dietitians to help you decide if this is right for you!


Your muscles use carbohydrates as their preferred energy source during your workout, so it is important to replace these carbohydrates with your post-workout meal or snack. The harder and longer the workout, the more carbs you should ingest.

If you don’t have enough carbohydrates in your diet when you’re working out, you might experience lower energy and fatigue as well as impaired muscle growth and repair. To avoid this, try to have a source of carbohydrate within 30-60 minutes following your workout. This is when your muscles are most receptive to re-fueling.

Carbohydrates can be found in wheat products (bread, pasta), grains (oats, rice, quinoa), starchy vegetables (potatoes, yams, corn), fruits, milk, and yogurt.


We all know protein is important when working out as it helps with muscle growth and repair. Protein-rich foods can also be rich in other nutrients like iron, which is especially important for vegetarian and female athletes.

Protein helps your muscles and tissues repair and recover following a workout. It also helps build muscles, circulate oxygen around the body, and maintain immune function. It helps your muscles recover and become not as sore for the next workout, so it is important to incorporate protein into your post workout meals.

You can get protein from meat, poultry, seafood, cottage cheese, Greek yogurt, legumes, nuts, seeds, and eggs.