If you want to get the most benefit from your workouts, proper post-workout nutrition is key. And who better to steal fitness-boosting snack ideas from than top trainers themselves? Here, we run through the criteria for a quality post-workout snack—and share five trainers’ go-to’s.
The Anatomy Of A Proper Post-Workout Snack
Eating a post-workout snack not only replenishes any glycogen (stored carbs) and electrolytes (body-balancing minerals) your muscles used for energy during exercise, but also kickstarts the muscle protein repair and growth process.
Though your ideal post-workout snack depends on the type of workout you just finished, as a general rule, you’ll want to eat at least a 1:1 ratio of carbs-to-protein, says Ryan Turner, R.D., dietitian at New York City fitness studio Tone House. (If you’re training for long periods of time or at a high intensity, you may need a 2:1 or even 3:1 ratio of carbs-to-protein.
Turner recommends his athletes eat roughly 0.2 grams of protein per pound of body weight in their post-workout snack. (For someone who weighs 150 pounds, that’s about 30 grams of protein.) Shoot for the same amount of carbs.
Related: 9 Easy Ways To Eat More Protein
When it comes to calories, don’t worry too much. “I think it’s more appropriate to get away from calories and focus on ‘Where’s my protein?’ and ‘Where’s my carbohydrate?’ instead,” Turner says.
Try to get your snack on as soon as possible (ideally, within 30 to 45 minutes) after your workout.
Trainers’ Favorite Post-Workout Snacks
With these guidelines in mind, we asked top trainers to share the post-workout snacks they rely on for a quick refuel.
1. Sweet Potato ‘Nachos’
This savory snack checks all of the post-workout snack macro boxes—and is easy to prep ahead of time and stash in the fridge. Ellis not only loves the flavor of this fun-to-eat combo, but that it provides complex carbs and fiber, too. For protein, add some shredded chicken or tofu to the snack.
- 1 medium sweet potato
- 1 ½ Tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
- Salt and pepper, to taste
- ¼ cup pre-made guacamole of choice
- 1 serving shredded chicken or tofu
- Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.
- Wash the sweet potato and cut into quarter-inch thick medallions.
- Toss the medallions in a bowl with olive oil, place on a baking sheet, and add salt and pepper to taste.
- Bake for 35 to 45 minutes.
- Let slices cool, and store in the fridge.
- When you’re ready to snack, top the slices with guacamole and chicken or tofu.
2. On-The-Go Salmon Cakes
Kanski likes these salmon cakes on their own as a snack, or atop a salad for a larger meal. “These are so easy to meal prep, and their macro game is on point,” she says.
A single cake packs 14 grams of muscle-repairing protein, seven grams of carbs, and some healthy fats. For extra carbs, serve with a side of brown rice or cauliflower rice.
- 3 6-oz cans wild-caught, boneless/skinless salmon
- 1 cup canned sweet potatoes
- ½ cup almond flour
- 1 extra large egg + 1 egg white
- 4 Tbsp fresh parsley, minced
- 1 bunch white and green scallions, diced
- 1 tsp hot sauce, if desired
- Salt and pepper, to taste
- Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.
- Drain canned salmon and combine with all other ingredients in a large bowl. Mix well.
- Spray a parchment paper-lined baking sheet with cooking spray.
- Divide mixture into nine pieces.
- Form into patties and place on the baking sheet.
- Bake for 20 minutes.
- Flip each patty and bake for another 10 minutes.
- Serve with a squeeze of lemon and extra hot sauce, if desired.
3. RXBAR + Greek Yogurt
Trainer: Ryan Turner, R.D., dietitian at Tone House fitness studio in New York City
Turner may not be a trainer, but he sure knows what fuel fitness buffs need. His go-to post-workout snack: an RXBAR and a serving of Greek yogurt. Not only does it provide the carbs and protein you need, but it’s also easy to grab at most convenience stores.
Plus, the RXBAR provides fiber from the nuts and dates in it!
Not a fan of yogurt? Swap it out for two pieces of string cheese or two hard-boiled eggs.
4. Fruity Cereal Protein Shake
“When I’m running from one place to the next, I don’t always have a ton of time to refuel,” says Kast. “But post-workout protein to ensure proper recovery is a non-negotiable.”
To meet her post-workout nutrient needs on-the-go, Kast mixes one scoop of Performix ioWhey Fruity Cereal Protein with eight ounces of water or almond milk. “The fruity cereal flavor tastes great even just shaken up with water, and I find I don’t get that bloat I get from other whey protein shakes,” she notes. Snack on a handful of blueberries and/or pineapple to up the carbs.
5. DIY Trail Mix
For a quick refuel on-the-go, McClellan keeps homemade trail mix on-hand. His usual mix includes a combination of raisins, nuts (like almonds, and peanuts), and chocolate chips. Just a few handfuls provide all of the carbs and protein your body needs to begin recovering—plus healthy fats and some electrolytes.