Recovery Meals: Why You Should Eat More Carbs After a Workout

Maximize your workout results with tips for what, when and how to eat from a sports nutritionist.

There is a science to what, when and how to eat after exercise. Making the right food choices post-exercise can maximize results. Make those workouts payoff by eating smart following your sweat session.

Recovery Basics

After a workout, tired muscles need to be repaired and expended energy stores need restoration. In order to do this, exercise enthusiasts must eat. Protein is the obvious choice for muscle repair, but proper recovery also relies heavily on healthy carbohydrates. Carbs will refill energy stores and allow for muscle to use the protein. So if you’re used to only eating protein after exercise, it’s time for a recovery reboot. The ideal target ratio is 3:1 carbs to protein (that’s right — more carbs than protein for optimal recovery.)

Post-workout fueling is also a time-sensitive issue. For best results, recovery meals and snacks should be eaten quickly following exercise — ideally within an hour. To make this happen it helps to have healthy, recovery-friendly foods ready to go. Here are some fresh ideas no matter what time of the day you exercise.




Baked Eggs in Hash Brown Cups, as seen on Food Network's The Pioneer Woman.

©2013,Television Food Network, G.P. All Rights Reserved

2013,Television Food Network, G.P. All Rights Reserved

If your workouts happen in the morning, opt for a make-ahead egg dish. Eggs not only offer protein but also antioxidants and healthy fats to fight inflammation. Baked egg cups, potatoes and some fruit are just what the body needs.




Photo by: Charles Masters

Charles Masters

If your exercise routine calls for midday sessions, refuel with a bowl full of fresh veggies, quinoa, beans and a heart-healthy dressing.


Ree Drummond's Shrimp Stir Fry as seen on Food Network

Photo by: Stephen Johnson ©2014, Television Food Network, G.P. All Rights Reserved

Stephen Johnson, 2014, Television Food Network, G.P. All Rights Reserved

If workouts come towards the end of the day, you’ll want to make sure dinner can be made fast. Stir frys are a healthy and speedy solution.

Recipe: Shrimp Stir Fry

Snack Ideas

Ellie Krieger's Blueberry Blast Smoothie

Photo by: Tara Donne ©2012, Television Food Network, G.P. All Rights Reserved

Tara Donne, 2012, Television Food Network, G.P. All Rights Reserved

Recovery snacks can actually be trickier than meals. To achieve optimal recovery with snack foods, reach for foods like Greek yogurt, nut butters, and hummus teamed up with fresh produce and whole grain munchies like crackers and granola. Or when there’s a blender nearby, whip up a smoothie.

Related Links:

Next Up

Recovery Foods: What to Eat After a Workout

Eating after exercise is a MUST for healthy muscles. Recover and refuel with regenerating foods like chicken, Greek yogurt or chocolate milk.

Recovery Foods: Post-Workout Recipes

Healthy post-workout recipes.

11 Healthy Foods Men Should Eat More Often

And easy ways to add them into your diet.

Should You Eat Bugs?

Insects like crickets, mealworms, ants and caterpillars are being touted as one of the hottest culinary trends. Should these crawly critters be part of your diet?

Easy High-Protein, Low-Carb Meals

Satiate your appetite longer with these dietitian-approved ideas.

How Often Should You Eat?

Many experts recommend eating small frequent meals throughout the day. However, a new school of thought has emerged which recommends eating larger, less frequent meals. How often should you be eating?

How to Eat to Fuel Your Workout

Get the most out of your workout by knowing what to eat when.

The Very First Meal You Should Eat Outside: Springtime Garden Party Menu

As spring begins to set in, throw an alfresco gathering with a menu of fresh, celebratory recipes that are just begging to be taken outside.

How Much Fruit Should You Eat?

Our dietitian explains how much fruit you need each day and what counts as a serving of fruit.

How Many Vegetables Should You Eat?

Most folks don’t get enough of the recommended dietary servings of veggies and miss out on their health benefits. Are you eating enough vegetables?

More from: