The Best Post-Workout Food and Recovery


Once you’ve blasted through beginner’s teething problems, most regular exercisers start to notice the odd niggle, consistent exhaustion, and even injuries. Often, these problems arise from poor recovery plans and doing too much too soon.

Eating can be the key to success. Unfortunately, many people approach exercise all wrong and think that, if they half-starve themselves, they’ll reach their weight goals in time for summer. Not only is this mindset potentially dangerous, but it can be massively counter-productive. Your body needs fuel to recharge your muscles, develop, heal, and grow.

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Here are just some of the great snacks and meals that will help your recovery process, so you can keep hitting up the gym:


Low Fat Chocolate Milk

Caffeine widens and relaxes blood vessels, which helps pump oxygen-rich blood around your body. Chilled chocolate milk also helps to bring down the body’s temperature post-workout, which helps reduce inflammation. Packed full of protein and carbohydrates, chocolate milk replenishes tired muscles, but can also boast a healthy dose of calcium, sodium, and sugar. So much better than Gatorade…


Protein Power Shake

Due to the acid build-up in your body after a workout, it’s not uncommon to experience a loss of appetite after exercise. However, refuelling after your workout is important. This is the perfect time to make a nutritious cocktail of protein powder, milk, nut butters, and/or berries. For a great selection of recipes, check out:


Carbs Ahoy!

Don’t think of carbs as “bad food” – they’re one of your closest allies. Carbs replenish energy stores (ask any long distance runner). The main thing to remember is to not overdo it (a cup/a cup and a half of pasta usually does the trick). Create a delicious pasta meal for dinner, but remember to add some veg and protein too.



We hope that you’re a fan of hot food. If you are, you can make the most of the wonderful B vitamins found in chillies. Vitamin B helps transport oxygen to all of the body’s tissues, so it makes for a great recovery food. Create a chilli full of protein-and-carb-heavy beans for the perfect recovery meal.





Turmeric And Ginger

For centuries, these substances were used as painkillers! Really, turmeric and ginger contain curcumin, which helps to reduce inflammation. The perfect opportunity to combine these two roots is in a delicious curry!



You probably know already that bananas are full of potassium. You’ll be glad to hear that potassium helps to prevent the muscle contraction that often occurs after a hard session in the gym – that tightness can be relieved by a banana or two for a post-workout snack or in a meal.



Manuka honey is packed with anti-inflammatory properties and carbs so, if you can afford it, it’s worth picking up some of this golden magic syrup. Because manuka is so packed with antioxidants, it also supports the immune systems, which means no days off the gym due to the sniffles. This food distributor has some great info on health and wellbeing, if you want a great steer on nutrition.


Other Factors To Consider…

  • It’s really important to ensure that you rehydrate yourself properly after a workout – you will have sweated out a substantial amount of liquid.
  • Rest – this is where many people fall down. Sleep really will make a huge difference. Not everyone can hit 8 hours, but aim to get as much rest as you possibly can – this is when your body makes its repairs.
  • Whatever you do, avoid overtraining – all the nutritious food in the world won’t stop you getting an injury from biting off more than you can chew. Listen to your body. Give yourself rest days. Vary up your exercise. And increase your goals slowly.
  • Consider sports massage. Massage really does help accelerate the recovery process.
  • Experiment with contrast water therapy. After your workout, jump in the shower and blast your muscles with cold water. Then, change to warm. Then, to cold again. This treatment encourages the blood vessels in your body to expand and contract, which really helps your muscles recover.


What’s your favourite post workout meal/snack? Leave a comment below.

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  1. says

    I’m glad to see chocolate milk top of the list! Chocolate milk is my treat to myself after a tough long run at the weekend. It’s labelled as one of the best recovery drinks out there, with the right mix of carbs and protein, and I plan on taking advantage of that! :)

  2. says

    One of my favourite post-training meals is thai green fish curry- not only is there some good protein, but carbs for replenishing your energy stores (if you have rice) and spices to get your metabolism going! :) Great tips x

  3. Amelia Anjan says

    I saw your tweet earlier about starting your day with lemon and ginger water. What are the benefits and do you have more than that for breakfast?

    • Dannii says

      I find it gives me some energy and helps with bloating. I will have that as soon as I get up and then I will have a proper breakfast.

  4. Mandy says

    Rest is really where I struggle. I used to workout 7 days a week, but I was burning myself out, so I have taken it down to 6 days a week. Do you think that is enough though? I am really wanting to lose 40lbs.

    • Dannii says

      I think that is more than enough, you really do need rest days to allow your muscles to recover and so you don’t get exhausted. I aim for 5 workouts a week.

  5. Sue says

    All I can manage after my workout is a smoothie, which is why I workout very early in the morning and then I will have a larger breakfast around 10am.

    • Dannii says

      It really depends on your weight, activity level etc. There is no one rule for everyone. I try to keep my snacks at around 150 calories.

  6. says

    I can’t get enough sports massages hehe. I love them! I’d have them like every other day if I could…oh to be an elite athlete with those sorts of benefits!
    I tend to just have a proper meal after running – if I run in the morning I’ll have my porridge with almond milk and chia seeds and in the evening I’ll have dinner afterwards. Usually scrambled eggs as it’s just so easy.

  7. Elizabeth says

    Do you have any recommendations on the best protein powder to buy? I know some of them are full of additives, but there must be more natural ones?

    • Dannii says

      My Protein do a natural one that I am about to try out – I will be reviewing it on the blog, so look out for that :)

  8. Michelle says

    It makes me so happy to see more people in the health and fitness industry promoting carbs and how healthy they are.

  9. Melanie says

    I recently bought some Manuka honey to see what the big deal was and I don’t think it is worth the money to be honest.

  10. Jade says

    Some great tips here. I am a new convert to a frozen chocolate and banana milkshake after my workout.

  11. says

    Some good advice here Dannii, and I’d never thought of a low cal choccie milk following a work out but it must be brilliantly refreshing. And I’m currently striving to sleep more, trying to up my usual poor 5 hours to nearer 6 or 7. Was a strict 8 hour person before having kids and although they gererally sleep well now my bodies sadly become accustomed to surviving on a good deal less!

    • Dannii says

      I have found that too, the less I was able to sleep, the less I am able to sleep more when I can.

  12. Natasha says

    Have you thought about putting together a workout guide? With things you can do at the gym and at home and also what to eat before and after your workout. Just a thought :)

  13. Vanessa says

    I had a sports massage for the first time a couple of weeks ago and WOW! It was amazing. My muscles felt so relaxed after.

    • Dannii says

      I think it is a gimmick. Plus, it is full of junk. I personally love coconut water for rehydrating.

  14. Laura says

    Any tips on what to eat before a workout? I hear so much difference in opinion around fasted cardio and eating before a workout. I would be interested to hear your thoughts.

    • Dannii says

      I usually have some almonds. I can never workout on an empty stomach, as I just don’t have any energy.

  15. Alice says

    Thank you for posting this. I have been wondering if there was anything in particular I should be eating after a workout.

  16. Lucy says

    I always go for a banana and some nut butter (hazelnut butter is my favourite at the moment) and I feel so much better after eating it. I have no idea how people push themselves in the gym and then don’t eat right to support it.