You’ve just completed another day of exercise — great job! Now, how do you choose what to eat after your workout?

Post-workout recovery is just as important as your actual workout. Fueling up with the right foods helps your body recover, builds and repairs muscle, and helps you regain energy and reduce fatigue. All of this goes into making sure you can crush your next workout, too!

Here’s what you need to know before choosing your next post-workout snack or meal:

Should I eat right after a workout?

Like many fitness “rules” and guidelines, it depends. Your body will definitely crave some fuel after you’ve exercised, especially if you’ve just completed a high-intensity workout. In this case, you might want to prepare a snack ahead of time so you can eat soon after your workout.

For moderate workouts, experts say you can eat somewhere between 30 minutes and two hours after you’ve exercised and still reap the benefits. To figure out what to eat after your workout, test different foods and timelines and see what works best for you.

One thing is certain, though. It’s best not to eat too big of a meal immediately after your sweat sesh. If you want to eat right away, choose something light to boost your energy and aid in recovery. Then, eat a bigger, nourishing meal a bit later on.

What should I eat after a workout?

Choosing what to eat after your workout (and when) will depend on the intensity of your exercise. Whatever you choose, you’ll want a combination of carbohydrates and protein.

Whether you’re in the mood for just a post-workout snack or you’re on the lookout for something more dinner-friendly, you have some options. Consider these ideas:

  • Love working out in the morning? Start your day with a smoothie packed with greens and fruits or an omelette filled with veggies.
  • Craving just a snack? Choose Greek yogurt with berries or whole wheat toast topped with scrambled eggs, avocado, or peanut butter.
  • Looking to make dinner after your workout? Try a chicken breast or piece of salmon with brown rice and vegetables or a side of sweet potato. 

Of course, post-workout foods are only part of fitness recovery. Make sure to hydrate properly after sweating it out and to cool down and stretch as well.

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