What To Eat After Workout To Lose Weight — Foods To Eat And Avoid Post-Workout

There's a lot that goes into planning a workout to help you achieve your goals when trying to lose weight. Planning out a pre-workout meal is likely something you've thought about. But have you thought about what to eat after a workout to lose weight? If not, you might want to. It turns out that consuming the proper nutrients after a workout is just as essential as your pre-workout nutrients. Keep on reading for a detailed guide to help you optimize your post-workout meals.

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Why it's important to choose the right post-workout foods for weight loss

Why does what you eat after a workout matter when it comes to weight loss? To get a better understanding of how post-workout foods can help you lose weight, you should also understand how working out affects your body.

When you work out, your muscles use up your body's preferred fuel source, glycogen, particularly during intense workouts. This depletes your muscles of glycogen¹. Some of your muscles' proteins can also become damaged and broken down.

After exercising, your body attempts to rebuild its glycogen stores. It also gets to work repairing and regrowing those damaged muscle proteins. Consuming the proper nutrients after a workout not only helps rebuild your glycogen stores and muscle proteins quicker, but also helps with new muscle growth stimulation. To keep the burn going, a good post-workout snack or meal is important.

Whether you're doing cardio or strength and endurance training, your body uses up all its energy during a workout. Therefore, it's vital that you nourish your body properly with all the essential nutrients it needs after you work out. Most individuals only consider their pre-workout meal. Now you know that your post-workout meal is just as important.

What to eat after a workout to lose weight

A proper post-workout snack or meal is essential to help with weight loss and keep your body healthy. Some post-workout meals you should incorporate into your workout plan include the following:

1. Water

While water isn't necessarily a meal, it's still an important part of your post-workout meal. Being properly hydrated will ensure your body gets the most benefits from your workout.

Your body loses electrolytes and water while you sweat² during exercise. Drinking water before, during, and after your workout can help promote performance and recovery. According to experts³, you should drink 17-20oz of water two hours before working out, 7-10oz every 10-20 minutes during your workout, and 16-24oz after your workout, for each pound you lose due to sweating.

Everyone's particular water intake needs will vary depending on:

  • How much they sweat

  • The type of workout they do

  • How thirsty they are

  • Other factors

2. Dairy protein

Published research in 2017⁴ shows as little as 9g of milk protein is enough to stimulate muscle protein synthesis, which aids in post-workout recovery.

Other than milk, other protein-rich dairy products include:

  • Cottage cheese

  • Greek yogurt

  • Kefir

  • Ricotta cheese

One cup of low-fat kefir has 9.2g of protein⁵. These proteins help with new cell growth and repair, particularly the cells in your muscles. They also contain essential amino acids that you can only get through your diet.

In 2007, researchers found that the new growth of muscle proteins⁶ after resistance exercise was better with milk-based proteins versus soy-based proteins.

While both soy and milk proteins help you build and maintain muscle mass, the fast growth of lean muscle mass was better achieved with milk proteins.

3. Protein, carbohydrates, and fats

The post-workout recovery process of your body involves each macronutrient (protein, carbs, and fats). This is why it's essential to have the proper mix of them.


Protein helps build and repair muscles.

Consuming a sufficient amount of protein post-workout provides your body with the required amino acids⁷ for repairing and rebuilding these proteins. It also provides your body with the building blocks needed for building new muscle tissue.

Some protein-rich foods include:

  • Eggs

  • Cottage cheese

  • Plant or animal-based protein powder

  • Tuna

  • Chicken

  • Greek yogurt

  • Tuna

  • Protein bars

  • Salmon


Carbohydrates assist with recovery. The glycogen stores of your body are used as fuel while you work out, and consuming carbohydrates post-workout helps in replenishing them.

Your activity will determine how much of your glycogen stores are used. For instance, your body uses more glycogen during endurance sports than during resistance training. If your workout focuses on endurance sports (i.e. swimming, running, etc.), you may require more carbs than a person whose workout focuses on weightlifting.

Consuming 0.5g-0.7g of carbohydrates per pound of body weight in a 30-minute timespan after training will result in proper glycogen resynthesis⁸.

Some carbohydrate-rich foods include:

  • Chocolate milk

  • Sweet potatoes

  • Fruits (i.e. banana, pineapple, kiwi, berries)

  • Oatmeal

  • Rice cakes

  • Pasta

  • Rice

  • Edamame

  • Potatoes

  • Whole grain bread

  • Quinoa and other grains


Fats aren't always bad. Many individuals think that consuming fat after working out inhibits nutrient absorption and slows digestion down. While fat may slow down the absorption of post-workout meals, it won't reduce its benefits. For instance, research shows that whole milk helps promote muscle growth post-workout⁹ better than skim milk.

Other research¹⁰ shows that even when you ingest a high-fat meal — which is 45% energy from fat — following a workout, it doesn't affect muscle glycogen synthesis.

Some fats include:

  • Nuts

  • Seeds

  • Avocado

  • Trail mix (dried nuts and fruits)

  • Nut butter

Easy post-workout meals you can try

Here are some quick and easy post-workout meals:

  • Cottage cheese with berries

  • Avocado spread on toast with an omelet

  • Scrambled eggs

  • Berries and Greek yogurt

  • Chickpea salad and edamame

  • Quinoa with avocado, nuts, and dried fruit

  • Pita and hummus

  • Oatmeal with almonds, a banana, and whey protein

What not to eat after a workout

If you consume oily, fatty, and fried food after working out, it could be counter-productive¹¹. All your efforts in trying to lose that stubborn belly fat go down the drain when you consume all the unwanted calories from these foods.

Foods you should try to avoid after working out include:

  • Coffee

  • Fried food

  • Spicy food

  • Beans

  • Desserts

  • Fast foods

  • Carbonated drinks

  • Alcohol

  • Raw veggies

  • Sugary juices

Overall, you want to stay away from post-workout foods that are low in protein, and high in sugar and fat, particularly if you're trying to lose weight. Cutting back on unhealthy foods helps you achieve your fitness and weight-loss goals quicker, while also improving your overall health.

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