Surprising Post-Workout Foods

Posted On Aug 19, 2014 By Erin Kuh, MBA, RD

5 Surprising Post-Workout Foods

Are shakes, protein bars, and recovery supplements your typical go-to, post-workout nutrition regimen? While these products are convenient and easy to consume following an intense training session, most packaged "muscle-building" products are void of the vitamins, minerals, and phytonutrients provided by whole foods. After your next workout, try substituting your sports nutrition products for simple whole foods to recover quickly, reduce exercise-induced inflammation and replenish electrolytes.

Combining any of options below with protein can give you an edge in a quick recovery. Portion sizes vary depending on your total daily calorie needs. The suggested portion sizes are for a 150 lb person doing 45-60 minutes of high intensity exercise, 3-4 times per week. If you exercise less than this and you're trying to lose weight or you weigh less than 150 lbs, cut the portion by one-third. Any of the fruits listed below can be included in a protein smoothie using 1 serving of whey protein and 1 cup of unsweetened almond milk. For optimal recovery, eat within 30 minutes of a high intensity or long duration workout.

  1. Watermelon with Yogurt

    Watermelon's high water content, rapidly absorbing fructose and lycopene-rich antioxidant count, makes a cup of watermelon chunks with ½ cup yogurt a refreshing and replenishing post-workout snack.

  2. Berries and Cherries

    When eaten after exercise, these bite-size fruit morsels may help reduce muscle damage and pain that can follow after an intense workout due to their high antioxidant levels. Use 1 cup of frozen berries in smoothies.

  3. Bananas

    Working out vigorously for long periods of time depletes carbohydrate stores in the body, as well as, magnesium and potassium. Bananas are rich in all three of the aforementioned nutrients. Consuming this fruit is very beneficial after a long workout (over 60 minutes), especially when combined with a protein source such as yogurt or peanut butter.

  4. Sugar Snap Peas & Carrots

    Sugar snap peas and carrots contain a small amount of sugar to replenish depleted muscles and are packed with antioxidants to reduce exercise-induced inflammation. For a more complete post-workout snack, combine sugar snap peas and carrots with 15 almonds, string cheese or dip in hummus.

  5. Peanut Butter with Apple Slices

    Apples contain quercetin, a powerful antioxidant. Peanut butter has protein and healthy fats that help the body absorb fat-soluble vitamins A, D, E and K from other foods. Try 1 tablespoon of peanut with ½ apple, sliced.

If you're looking for alternatives to stay fueled during your workout, try dried fruit, including dates, raisins and apricots in place of sports gels and chews. By fueling your body with quickly-absorbed sugars and more vitamins and minerals from natural sources, you'll provide your body with more of what it really craves during exercise.