5 min read

What to eat after a workout? The essentials are all in here

What to eat after a workout: mixed salad with protein is perfect for weight loss
Fitness Editor
Julia is a qualified fitness trainer. She writes our articles about nutrition and fitness. She also makes free workout plans for our site.

Should you eat after your workout? If you do, what? Well, that depends on your goal. We’ve summarized tips for what to eat after a workout to either help gain muscle or lose weight.

Wondering if you should eat before exercising or after? The answer is, both! It doesn’t matter if you want to build muscle, lose weight, or just stay the way you are. Sounds simple? It is if you know your goal, since that’s what decides what’s best to put on your plate after you exercise.

Want to get nutrition tips and product recommendations from our experts? They’re individually tailored to your goals and your fitness level.

Start your free Body Check

Post-workout meal: The basics

Your post-workout meal is especially important. It’s the key to regenerating properly and keeps you going at full power in the future. After exercising, the first thing to do is to replenish your energy stores. Since your glycogen synthesis is at its highest directly after exercise, we recommend taking in quickly available carbohydrates immediately after your workout. Complex carbohydrates still should be your first choice for the rest of the day. Protein is also important after exercise, because as an important building block of the body it supports faster regeneration of your muscles.

Our Recovery Aminos support you directly after hitting the gym with quickly available carbohydrates and essential amino acids to help your muscles recover. Give yourself an extra portion of recovery!

The amount and timing of the macronutrients you need is determined by what your exact goal is.

What to eat after a workout for muscle building

During exercise, your muscles break down or tear. That’s why protein is the name of the game after strength training. To support muscle building, whey protein is the best choice because your body can absorb it easily. If you want your protein lactose-free, a vegan protein that combines different amino acid sources is perfect.

Protein + BCAAs = perfect for building muscle

In the first 45-60 minutes after a workout, your body uses protein directly for muscle building. Ideally, it would be getting 20g of protein in combination with carbohydrates or BCAAs. BCAAs and easily usable carbohydrates from bananas or fruit bars stimulate insulin release. Insulin has an anabolic effect, i.e. muscle building, which supports the “repair” of your muscles after training.

Discover our BCAA capsules now

Our tip for muscle building

You can’t build muscle without breaking a sweat – that’s just the way it is. We can’t take the workout off your hands. But we can support you in building muscle. The key to success is high-quality sports nutrition. Our Muscle Packs combine the classics of power sports nutrition, including Whey Protein, L-Glutamine, and Creatine.

Try our Muscle Pack now

The ideal muscle building foods after exercise

To build muscle, you need to consume more calories than you burn. What else is your body going to build muscle from? This means that recipes that have a lot of calories but are nevertheless balanced and healthy are optimal.

The more balanced your diet, the better your body is supplied with all vitamins, minerals, and trace elements. A healthy body builds muscles best.

Essentially, you should make sure that you eat protein-rich food. But please don’t forget the quality: Cheap factory-farmed meat doesn’t count. It’s best to eat high-quality organic meat and fish, and always include plant-based protein sources such as legumes, quinoa, avocado, and nuts in your post-exercise meal. These provide valuable micronutrients and unsaturated fatty acids. If you combine plant-based foods skillfully, you can also meet your protein needs with veggie dishes.

Vegetables and fresh fruit should always be included, as well as carbohydrates. Chickpeas, for example, are perfect: they provide protein and carbohydrates at the same time – carbs help you reach your calorie surplus and provide valuable micronutrients. If you eat grains, be sure to choose whole grains, like brown rice.

Our tip: A post-workout shake

When you need something quick, smoothies are the perfect choice. Our Whey Protein is a dream. Enjoy your protein shake in a dreamy Chocolate Peanut Butter flavor. So creamy and irresistibly delicious. And thanks to the high protein content, it’s perfect for muscle building!

A Mason jar full of a layered chocolate-peanut butter and white creamy protein shake - one suggestion of what to eat after a workout

What to eat after a workout to lose weight

A common misconception is that if you’re trying to lose weight, you shouldn’t eat after a workout. Not even a small salad with low-fat dressing.

But that’s just not true! Even if you want to lose weight, you can and should eat after exercise. Looking at the logic of weight loss will explain why.

To lose weight, you need a calorie deficit. Meaning, you need to burn more calories than you consume. But if you don’t want to just look skinny, but also defined, your body needs enough nutrients and calories to maintain muscle. If you don’t eat after you exercise, you’re in danger of looking ‘skinny-fat’. That is, you’ll appear skinny, but with fat and without muscle.

Protein + vegetables = perfect for weight loss

To get a defined and toned body, you need to develop muscle tone. That’s precisely why the logic holds, even when your goal is slimming down: Immediately after working out, getting around 20g of protein is ideal for building muscle. Don’t worry – it’ll go straight to where it’s needed.

A bowl seen from above with a broccoli, egg quarters, and tuna salad with walnuts on the side
© istock/NoirChocolate

The ideal weight loss foods after exercise

To lose weight, it’s best to eat a combination of protein and fiber after exercise. While protein helps build strong muscles, fiber keeps you full for a long time. Vegetables are particularly rich in fiber and yet low in calories. A good idea might be, for example, tofu or fish with a salad or grilled veggies.

FYI, you don’t have to avoid fats: cold-pressed olive oil for salads, coconut oil for sautéing, and avocado have a lot of unsaturated fats that are just fine to eat in moderation, even after exercise. Of course, try not to eat more calories than you burn.

Which protein is right for you?

Right after your workout, a classic Whey Protein drink is always a good choice. Your body can utilize whey protein particularly quickly and use it for muscle building effectively.

For a balanced and lactose-free protein source, Vegan Protein is ideal. Especially if you consume a lot of protein, you should rely on different protein sources, including vegetable proteins.

Is it better to eat protein before or after a workout?

Scientists are still divided on whether eating protein after a workout is adequate or whether it’s also helpful to get it in before one. Fact is: It’s essential to get it after your workout in order to reach your targets. But especially if you’re trying to increase your muscle mass, you should eat enough protein throughout the day regardless of timing – including before your workout, if necessary.

But there are also studies that indicate that protein before a workout boosts protein synthesis and promotes muscle building while you exercise. In combination with easily digestible carbohydrates or BCAAs, it can provide additional energy for the workout.

Summary

  • No matter what your goal is: eating after your workout is a must to achieve it.
  • Your diet should stay balanced and varied.
  • A protein-rich diet is important for both muscle building and weight loss.
Article sources
We at foodspring use only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial policy to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.

Related Posts