Skip to main content

What foods are good for a post-gym workout


When you push yourself through a tough workout, you’re not actually becoming fitter. What you’re doing is stressing your body and priming it to grow and adapt, in response. If you want to enjoy the best fitness results possible, you’ve got to give your body sufficient rest and nutrition to grow and recover after each workout.

Post-workout nutrition is the start of the recovery and strengthening process, and what you choose to eat matters.

Here are a few suggestions on post-workout nutrition:

Simple sugar snacks

When you do a high-intensity training session, you’ll burn through your body’s glycogen stores. Glycogen is the stored form of carbohydrate that your body keeps locked up in your muscles and liver for an emergency.

During anaerobic exercises, such as sprint training or explosive lifting for more than a few reps, your muscle glycogen is utilised as fuel. If you run out of muscle glycogen, you’ll “hit the wall”, meaning your muscles will lock up and you won’t be able to perform.

Training with insufficient glycogen stores may lead to muscle breakdown, according to research. But replenishing glycogen after a workout is just as crucial as topping it up beforehand.

Right after working out, your body can replenish its glycogen stores at an accelerated rate. Focus on getting in some fast-digesting carbs immediately post-workout but bear in mind portion control and having these moderately.

Example foods 

●    White rice/ pasta

●    Banana

●    Orange juice

●    Coca-cola

●    Ice cream

●    Milk chocolate

●    Cookies

●    Protein and carb combos

There is some research showing evidence that eating protein after a workout, along with carbs, boosts glycogen synthesis significantly.

Post-workout meals combining protein and carbs will likely also provide a hefty dose of calories and micronutrients to kickstart the recovery process.

Example foods:

●    Peanut butter on whole grain toast

●    Chicken, vegetable and rice

●    Spaghetti Bolognese

●    Tuna pasta bake

●    Bean stew

Simple lean protein

There’s an old idea that immediately after doing exercise, there’s a powerful “anabolic window” that opens up. According to the theory, any protein eaten during this period will significantly boost your body’s ability to pack on new muscle tissue.

The research findings on this subject are a bit contradictory and uncertain. A 2013 review published in the Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition notes that some reasons for the uncertainty might include flawed study design, including some researchers failing to account for the effects of pre-workout meals.

Some studies have, however, found significant anabolic benefits associated with protein consumption immediately after a workout.

To enjoy these potential benefits, it might be a good idea to focus on low-fat protein sources, as fat slows the process of digestion.

Example foods:

●    Whey protein powder

●    Chicken breast

●    Lean beef steak

●    Beans and lentils

●    Low-fat yoghurt (e.g. Skyr)

All blog posts