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Working out expends a lot of energy. While that is the goal, it can be difficult for your body to recover quickly. One way to replenish your energy is to eat or drink a nutrient-dense snack or meal within the first 30 minutes following your workout.

We will explore some of the foods that are best to eat after physical activity. Think of these foods as fuel for your muscles, bones, and organs.


Water is at the top of the list, as it is essential to hydrate during and after a workout. During physical activity, especially cardio exercise, you will lose water through perspiration. 

You may be tempted to reach for a sugary sports drink to replace electrolytes. A better choice is unsweetened filtered or electrolyte water.

High-Quality Protein

The amino acids in protein are essential for rebuilding lean muscle mass. Your muscles work hard during exercise, and they need to be fed for proper recovery. However, a protein bar might be the best option if it is sweetened with high fructose syrup.

A better option would be dairy-based proteins, such as plain yogurt, cottage cheese, or kefir. Other proteins to consume would be lean meats, such as turkey breast, hard-boiled eggs, or wild-caught fish. You can cook these the night before and portion them into resealable snack bags. Nuts and seeds are also good sources of protein and healthy fats.

Vitamin and Mineral Packed Carbohydrates

You are likely going to be hungry after a workout. It is natural to crave carbohydrates that will fill you up quickly. Consuming carbohydrates that are high in vitamins and minerals can promote glycogen storage and boost immunity. Glycogen is what your body uses to produce glucose for energy.

A bag of chips or cookies is not necessarily the right carbs to eat. Instead, reach for whole grains like brown rice or oats, sweet potatoes, berries, and quinoa.

Healthy Fats

Foods high in unsaturated fats, especially those with omega-3 fatty acids, support the synthesis of muscle proteins and cells. These foods also benefit the heart muscle, which works hard during exercise.

Good sources of foods containing healthier fats include salmon, tuna packed in water, avocadoes, and flax seeds.

Bottom Line

It is a good idea to refuel your body within 30 minutes after completing your workout. Go for nutrient-dense proteins, carbohydrates, and healthy fats. And, be sure to stay hydrated with pure, filtered water before, during, and after physical activity.