The Absolute Best Post-workout Meal Ideas and Recipes

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Last updated on September 5, 2022

After hitting the gym or doing a high-intensity workout, be it weight training or cardio, all you’ll be thinking is what to eat. While eating 45 minutes after a good workout is recommended, the kind of healthy food you’ll be eating is crucial for your weight and health. This is particular true if you do regular exercise and important for both women and mens health overall.

Post-workout nutrition in the form of meals is essential to refuel and replenish your body with those that have been medically reviewed being ideal. However,the food choices are often the things that prevent weight loss in the first place. In fact, there are people who gain more even when they regularly workout. Why does this happen?

The science behind eating, nutrition and dietetics, and working out is simple: any food that has been consumed pre-workout will be burned away. There is a so-called post workout window wherein any available protein in the body is used by the muscles to rebuild. It is recommended to eat 30–35 grams of carbs and 30 grams of protein 45 minutes post workout.

However, the weight-loss goal is defeated when you aim for high-calorie foods such as burgers and fries post workout that are laden with carbs.rather than healthy food. So rather than reduce your body fat you will find that your body fat ratio increases.  It is important to calculate your marcos (fats, protein and carbs) and adhering to them.

It might be a tempting idea as a means of reward after a tough and grueling workout. Here are some great meal ideas and recipes that can refuel and rebuild the muscles and achieve the weight loss goal as well.

Your Post Workout Fuel Needs

When you are working out in the gym you are not building any muscle. In fact, you are doing just the opposite. The stress that you place on the muscles you are training is actually breaking them down. For example, when you train your chest, so long as you are working it hard enough, micro tears will appear in the individual muscle fibers that make up the pec muscles. Your goal should be to repair and rebuild these muscle fibers in the time before you work your chest again. You do this with the right food and the proper rest. This supports the natural process in the body where protein repairs muscle tears after intense exercise, also called muscle protein synthesis.

So, what foods do you need after your workout?

While most people think about taking in post workout protein, it is actually carbohydrates which your body is more in need of immediately after your workout. The main form of fuel your workout is glucose. You get glucose from carbs. You want to be consuming carbs that are very quickly digested into the body. You can get these by with a post workout shake that combines a high level of fast digesting carbs with about 20-30 grams of protein. When you are shopping for your post workout shake, look for the ingredient dextrose on the label. This is a very fast acting form of glucose.

Protein, of course, is also important post workout. Getting it in liquid form is a good idea because it is quickly digested into the body. Look for a post workout shake that contains branch chain amino acids and glutamine. Below we give you our nutrition tips for eating the rights foods:

Protein shake

The protein shake will quickly replenish your protein supply to depleted muscles. You have the choice between a vegetarian or whey protein shake. You may want to add more protein boosters such as your preferred milk, peanut butter, and fruits. When shopping for a protein shake, look for one that has been medically reviewed for healthy eating and that is low in artificial ingredients like sweeteners and flavorings.

Here are 3 great protein shake recipes to make your post workout meal a delicious treat.

Chocolate Milk Protein Smoothie 


1 Large Frozen Banana

2 Ice Cubes

1 Cup Chocolate Milk

 2 TBSP Protein Powder

1 TBSP Nut Butter

2 TBSP Cocoa Powder

1 TBSP Chocolate Chips


Place all ingredients into a high-speed blender and process until smooth. If your protein smoothie is too thick, add a little more chocolate milk and process for another 30 seconds.

Strawberry Protein Smoothie


3/4 Cup Frozen Strawberries

1/4 Cup Frozen Banana

2 TBSP Protein Powder

1/4 Cup Non-Fat Greek Yogurt

3/4 Cup Unsweetened Almond Milk


Place all of the ingredients into a high-speed blender and process until smooth. Iyour protein smoothie is too thick, add a little more almond milk and process for another 30 seconds. 

Peanut Butter & Jelly Protein Smoothie


1 Cup Mixed Frozen Berries

2 TBSP Peanut Butter

2 TBSP Protein Powder

1 TSP Vanilla Extract

2 TBSP Rolled Oats

1 Cup Vanilla Soy Milk


Place all ingredients into a high-speed blender and process until smooth. If your protein smoothie is too thick, add a little more soy milk and process for another 30 seconds.


Eggs are good sources of protein and nutrients and you can have it any way you want it. It has been found that egg yolks are healthy contrary to what was believed during the ’90s. The versatility of eggs provides a hearty post workout meal that can be combined with luscious avocado, toast, lean meat or a dash of onions and peppers. Cook them any way you like from poached, sunny-side up, scrambled or over easy.

Greek  Yogurt

One of the great sources of carbohydrates and protein is Greek yogurt. Muscle soreness is quickly alleviated when fresh berries are added to the yogurt. It is because of the rich micro nutrient content in berries. Cereal can also be a good add-on to the yogurt. Just remember that it must be Greek yogurt and not any regular yogurt if you want to gain the health and weight-loss benefits.

Whole-grain breakfast cereal

Cereal is a versatile food that one can enjoy anytime of the day. It has been an American breakfast favorite but it can also be converted into a healthy snack. The cereal kind to go for is one that is low in sugar content but high in fiber and protein.

Cereals that show nutritional values such as 10 grams of fiber, 30 grams of carbohydrates, and 13 grams of protein are the best choices. Adding Greek yogurt or your choice of milk packs in additional protein that will be so good for muscle-building.

Oatmeal is a good choice of cereal because of its dense fiber and carbohydrates content. It can become a more exciting choice when it is topped by protein powder or almond butter.


A healthy sandwich makes a great post workout snack. Make the choice of carbs wholesome and healthy by going with sandwiches using chicken or turkey wrapped up in whole-grain bread. Make it even heartier with a side dish of soup. If you time your workout is during lunchtime, this meal will be filling,  delicious, and nutritious.

Sandwiches are great food-on-the-go, which means that you can have your fill as you go back to work after a good lunch break workout. If salads are your thing, adding in quinoa,pasta, whole grains, and brown rice will make the meal hearty and filling.

Chocolate Chia Recovery Drink

If you need to hurry back to work after a workout, drinking a chocolate drink that is Chia-based is a good option for post-workout recovery. Adding in hemp and flax seeds gives additional healthy doses of good fats and fiber. Kick in more flavor and nutrients by adding a banana or nut butter of your choice.

Chipotle Black Bean Burgers

If you feel that only a burger can give you that satisfying post-workout food reward, make it a healthier option by using beans instead of meat. The black beans are loaded with protein and spreading them over whole grain bread won’t make you miss out on your favorite meal.

Chipotle spreads come in different flavors including adobo generously garnished with peppers. Add in a healthy dose of good fats by topping your burger with almonds, fresh limes,avocado slices, and greens. This hearty meal will satisfy any post workout anytime of the day.

Stuffed sweet potato with cheese, corn, and black beans

Potatoes have been seen as unhealthy food choices. Yet, it isn’t especially with this sweet potato delight that serves as a perfect meal for one. All you need to do is to zap the potato in the microwave before topping it with corn salsa and black beans for a healthy treat. Sprinkle with cheese and fresh avocado creme and you’re all set to enjoy one fantastic-tasting healthy meal!

Rice and Spicy Mexican Steak

Feel like cooking a quick and delicious meal post workout? This amazing Mexican dish will satisfy hunger pangs as well as help in invigorating tired muscles.

You will need:

  • 100 grams of white rice
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 sliced red onions
  • 1 tbsp tomato puree
  • 400 grams thinly sliced chicken breast or frying steak
  • 1 green sliced pepper
  • ½ stock cubes

What you need to do:

  • Follow directions on way to cook rice
  • Add in ½ stock cubes
  • Over medium heat, use a large wok to heat the olive oil
  • Stir in chopped peppers and cook until they turn brown
  • Remove the peppers and add in the steak or chicken breast
  • Top the steak with the peppers
  • Add the cooked rice and tomato puree
  • Mix them well for one minute
  • Serve and enjoy


Your post workout nutrition is important for they are the best ways to hydrate, repair, and replenish nutrients lost during the workout. The healthy eating nutrition tips meal included in this article, particular those medically reviewed, are your best options when the ultimate goal is to lose weightRegular exercise, be it weight training or cardio, means getting the right macros (fats, protein and carbs) should be the goal.

Steve Theunissen has qualified from the International Sports Sciences Association (ISSA) and is a certified Personal Trainer and Nutritionist. He has over 30 years experience in fitness and nutrition and currently working with famous fitness professionals. He is currently living in New Zealand with is wife and daughter.

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