11 foods to eat right after you work out

There are three types of people who brave the gym: those who want to drop extra pounds, those who are all about the gains, and me. And by me, I mean someone who works out just enough to still feel her best even though she ate four slices of pizza less than 12 hours ago.

No matter what type of gym rat you are, it's likely that by the time you leave the gym you're ravenous. It's easy to let that Dunkin' Donuts across the street tempt you — but there are better ways to satisfy those carb cravings while doing your body good.

Here are 11 (tasty!) foods that'll replenish everything your body lost while you were working on your fitness:

Protein shake

Protein is incredibly important to your body's function. Without it, you wouldn't be able to do… well, pretty much anything. Protein is a major part of muscle function, and your body needs it to heal any minor muscles tears that've might've happened while you were getting swole. Sure, you could get your protein from that chicken or fish dish you have waiting for you at home, but here's the catch: solid foods take longer to digest than liquids. Protein shakes deliver the goodness to your muscles a lot quicker (and promote weight loss, too!).


Since we're on the subject, eggs are another great source of protein. Not only are they low calorie, but there are a million ways to prepare them and they're great for any time of day. Also, don't worry about discarding the egg yolk. While it does hold most of the fat, the yolk is also where you'll find all of the vitamins and nutrients your body needs post-workout.


If shakes and eggs aren't really your thing, quinoa is also a top source of protein. Quinoa is a superfood with tons of health benefits, ranging from migraine relief to antiseptic properties. According to Men's Health, quinoa also serves as a "tissue- and muscle-building powerhouse," which is exactly what you'll need after an intense workout.

Chia seeds

When you sweat, you lose a ton of electrolytes — you know, the things those Gatorade commercials are always talking about. Turns out they are incredibly important (the vast amounts of sugar in that Gatorade however, is not). Electrolytes are basically miniscule salt ions your body needs to keep everything in check and working properly. If you sweat too much and don't replace the electrolytes you lost, your body gets sad.

This is where the chia seeds come into play. They contain the important stuff like calcium and magnesium, and when you mix them into liquid they expand — meaning you'll feel full and energetic after eating them.

White potatoes

Do you ever get to the point in your workout where you feel like you just cannot move for a second longer? That feeling is real, and it happens when your body runs out of glycogen (a molecule that breaks down into glucose) and starts feeding on fat. The more glycogen you have in your body, the longer you can exercise without feeling burnt out.

While the word "starch" might set off alarms in your head since you just spent an hour on the treadmill running off those french fries you ate for dinner, they're actually a great source of glycogen. You'll want to stay away from any refined foods, so unfortunately fries aren't the best option, but white potatoes are a perfect way to get the starches you need to set some glycogen aside for your next workout.

Greek yogurt

So now that you know you need protein and carbohydrates post-workout, why not save some time and eat something that'll give you both? Greek yogurt contains less sugar and more carbs than regular yogurt, and more protein than milk. It's also high in calcium, potassium, and Vitamin-B12.

Mix it with some fibery fruit and you've got yourself one hell of a post-workout snack!

Sweet potatoes

If you're drooling over that sweet potato soufflé your aunt makes every Thanksgiving, let me just stop you right there. That doesn't count. But I promise: sweet potatoes are just as delicious without all the butter and brown sugar. They're even healthy!

Sweet potatoes contain potassium (more than bananas!), which you need for muscle contraction, and collagen that helps keep your muscles in place and skin looking fine — two things your body craves after a hard day of lifting weights.


You've probably heard by now that avocado is chock full of monounsaturated fat, "the good fat" that helps lower cholesterol. That good fat also promotes muscle repair (so maybe you can actually walk after leg day).


Speaking of leg day, that soreness you feel for the few days (or honestly, weeks) following has an actual name: exercise-induced muscle damage. It happens when you go too hard after a few days off, or work out muscles that are accustomed to being idle.

It's the WORST feeling, so naturally you want it to last for the shortest length of time possible. Get hype: blueberries are here to save the day. Turns out they contain just the right antioxidants and anti-inflammatory properties to make your muscles feel better quicker.


Pineapple is another fruit that boasts anti-inflammatory properties. It's rich in Vitamin-C, which "plays an integral role in tissue growth and healing" according to Muscle & Fitness. Not only that, but it contains the unique enzyme bromelain, which helps reduce swelling in muscle and joint injuries.


If you're still sore after your blueberry and pineapple protein shake (see what I did there?), try grilling up some salmon. Salmon is incredibly rich in Omega-3's, fatty acids that are essential to your health (but your body can't produce them on its own). These Omega-3's help reduce swelling, among other major health benefits.

Whether hitting the gym is a way of life for you or you only joined to keep your body moving, adding these foods to your post-workout menu are key to guaranteeing you're always giving your body what it needs and feeling your best.