Healthy post-workout food to support your recovery

Post-workout food: how to make it your ally

Exercising and post-workout foods can help to building muscle mass and keeping your mind and body healthy. However, after an intensive workout, we can be tempted by the nearest food to satisfy our hunger and we don’t always make the healthier choices!

By choosing nutritious foods as part of a balanced diet, we can help our bodies recover and build muscle. We’ve broken down the essentials for you!

How long after training should I eat?

Ever wondered how long after your exercise you should eat?
First, when we exercise, we use up some of our glycogen stores and break down some of the protein in our muscles. So, after a workout, our bodies try hard to repair and regrow those proteins and to refill glycogen stores.

Nutritionists suggest that for optimal recovery, we first need to rehydrate our bodies and to eat carbs within the first 2 hours after a workout. Then you can eat some proteins within 24 hours, and, of course, before your next training session [1]. The intake of protein contributes to the maintenance and growth in muscle mass.

What types of food to favour right after your workout?

Before you reach for that post-workout snack, the most important thing to do after a training session is to hydrate [2]. Why? Because sweat is composed of water and mineral salts such as sodium. And as workouts make you sweat, you’ll need to drink water to replace the fluid you lost during workout. It‘s also key for you, athlete, to maintain a good level of sodium. You can look at drinks that contains sodium, as they will help with fluid retention and distribution in the body [3].

Now, to get the full benefits of post-workout nutrition, eating food that contains carbs and protein is a great way to help your muscles recover.

If you are as protein-nuts as we are, you might know that protein is an essential nutrient to reach for after a training session. Eating food that’s high in protein gives your body the amino acids that it needs to rebuild the protein in the muscles that was broken down during your workout. There are many protein sources you can choose from, such as cow’s milk, eggs and soy-based products that each contain the 9 essential amino acids.

But protein isn’t the only thing your body breaks down during exercise. Your body also uses up its glycogen stores, so that you’ve got the energy to work hard. Eating foods that contain carbs are a great choice for your recovery. Not sure how much you should eat? Around 1 to 1.2g/kg within the first 8 hours (or ideally within the first 2 hours) after training is great! [4]

Focus on some post-workout foods to favour after training

Take a look at this list of different post-workout foods to help you recover after training, so you’ll never be short on ideas!

If you’re looking for a sweet snack that’s also nutritious, don’t hesitate to go for bananas. They are rich in potassium and carbs which both need replenishing after your workout.

Dairy proteins
Milk is composed of 2 proteins - whey & casein – so dairy products as yogurts are a great option. YoPRO yoghurt is packed with up 15g of protein and is a great choice. It comes in delicious flavours such as mango, passionfruit, or strawberry, and the protein it contains can help your muscles recover when consumed as part of a health-varied diet. So, go for it!

Meat, eggs and plant-based alternatives
Animal products such as chicken, turkey and eggs are a great source of protein. As fat can sometimes slow down your digestion, eating leaner, white meat can help you feel good.

If you’re looking for a plant-based protein snack, soy is a great alternative. YoPRO has a great plant based range you can try, which delivers 12g of protein per serve!

Protein bars and snacks
If you’re in need of an easy-to-carry snack for right after your training session, you can look at protein bars (link to our protein bar range) and snacks. You can even make them yourself, so you can cook a batch of them to get your crunchy snack ready for your next workout session out of your home! To make sure they are a good source of protein, include foods as almonds.

And... What happens if I don’t eat post-workout?

We know you have busy and hectic lives or maybe sometimes you’re simply not hungry. So, it’s not always easy to fit in eating post-workout food. But this can have a negative impact on your body such as feeling tired or disorientated as your blood sugar will be low. Keep in mind that your muscles count on the food you eat to help them recover!

Foods to leave for another time

Now that we have seen which foods can help during your recovery phases, keep in mind that there are some foods that are less effective at helping our bodies recover. The foods listed below are great as part of a balanced diet, but maybe you might prefer to eat them another time to get the most out of your post-workout nutrition.

High in sodium and added sugar foods
Craving a little post-workout treat? We know the feeling… Luckily for you, it’s recommended to eat some sugar after a workout to refill your glycogen stores! However, keep in mind not to eat too much added sugar nor too much salt as part of your day-to-day diet. Make sure that you only eat treats like cakes, crisps and ice-cream occasionally.

Fried foods
Fried foods are usually high in saturated fat and sodium, which are best avoided in those two hours after your workout. If you do choose to eat food high in fat in this two-hour window, try to eat foods that aren’t high in saturated or trans fats, and favour unsaturated fats as those found in salmon and avocados.

Now that we have zoomed in on what and when to eat post-workout, you have all the keys to make food your ally after exercising. So, make the most of it!

Written by: Ashley Manning

Any medical advice and views expressed are those of the author; readers should obtain medical advice.

[1] Sources: International Association of Athletics Federations Consensus Statement 2019: Nutrition for Athletics, Burke L.M. et al., International Journal of Sport Nutrition and Exercise Metabolism, 2019, 29, 73-84.Beyond muscle hypertrophy: why dietary protein is important for endurance athletes, Moore D. R. et al, Appl Physiol Nutr Metab, 2014


[3] Position of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, Dietitians of Canada, and the American College of Sports Medecine: Nutrition and Athletic Performance, 2016 Protein Book

[4] Position of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, Dietitians of Canada, and the American College of Sports Medecine: Nutrition and Athletic Performance, 2016 Protein Book.

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