If you love working out, then be sure you know what the best foods to eat after cardio are. You need to not only fuel properly beforehand, but also be sure to re-fuel properly afterwards. The worst thing you can do is skip meals. That only sends your blood sugar all over the place, which makes you stressed and can lead to weight gain. It also deprives your body of its prime time for muscle recovery. This process hurts your workouts the next day because your muscles can’t repair themselves like they naturally want to. Your after workout snacks don’t have to be large, but do be sure to eat something. Try some of the best foods to eat after cardio, and be sure to include one of them after each workout you have. Your energy levels and muscles will thank you for it!
1. Greek Yogurt
Greek yogurt is one of the ultimate best foods to eat after cardio, or any workout for that matter. Greek yogurt is not only high in protein, but also high in fat burning calcium, that lowers cortisol which naturally rises during exercise. Cortisol promotes that stressed feeling in the body, and Greek yogurt helps to reduce it, the natural way. Greek yogurt also contains a bit of magnesium, which helps calm nerves and aids in muscle recovery and bone health. Now, let’s talk about the potassium and B vitamins in yogurt. Greek yogurt is full of both! Potassium helps reduce inflammation in the joints and muscles, while also aiding in heart health. B vitamins help restore energy and give a sense of calm to the body at the same time. Lastly, Greek yogurt contains natural carbs from milk, but they are easy to digest thanks to the probiotics. Greek yogurt’s carbs help restore glycogen to your muscles, which is drawn from glucose in your body and depleted during exercise. Always refuel with foods with natural carbs like Greek yogurt instead of processed sugar, and keep it a low amount. Plain Greek yogurt contains only 5-7 grams of sugar from milk per serving. It’s an all-round great
post-workout food, and fabulous to eat right after cardio.
Berries are a wonderful food to eat post workout. Their natural sugars are low enough to where they won’t spike your insulin levels, but also enough to restore glycogen to your muscles. Berries are also high in potassium, which prevents cramps and injury, along with heart health, and berries are high in Vitamin C. Vitamin C helps reduce inflammation and aids in immune function. Berries are also high in anti-inflammatory antioxidants that are wonderful for your heart and your entire cardiovascular system. Try pairing them with your Greek yogurt, or even add both foods to a healthy protein shake after your workout for a double dose of fitness fuel!
If you crave a higher source of carbs, or you had a really intense run, go with bananas. Their resistant starch properties make them great for keeping your insulin down, but they have a little bit more sugar than berries, which restores glycogen to the muscles in no time! Better yet, pair them with some protein so they don’t get digested too quickly leaving you craving sugar again sooner. Bananas are also well known for their extremely high potassium content, and they contain B vitamins to aid in mood health and energy.
4. Hemp Protein
I’m a huge fan of making a cold smoothie after a cardio session, and I usually add hemp protein. During cardio, your blood is directed away from your digestive tract, to your muscles. Because of this, digestion is weakened. Right after a workout, you need to consume something really easy to digest that contains muscle restoring protein. Hemp protein is essentially the easiest plant protein to digest. It’s also full of all essential amino acids, has a high protein content, and is great for your brain and digestive tract. It’s also sugar-free if you buy natural, plain varieties.
5. Coconut Oil or Butter
Coconut oil or butter is also great to consume right before a workout for energy, but don’t exclude it for afterwards either. Just a tablespoon of this oil or butter will stem your appetite, immediately give your liver something to use for energy, and it also helps combat post-exercise insulin surges. I like to put 1 teaspoon in my smoothies post workout. Less is more when it comes to this oil after a workout. The great thing is, it’s easy to digest and can help detox your body from wastes that build up during exercise.
6. Leafy Greens or Powder
If you make shakes, feel free to add some leafy greens or a green nutritional powder. Why? They help alkalize your body and reduce inflammation. While the other foods mentioned here are great, leafy greens like spinach or kale in a smoothie just help take things up a notch or two. Plus, you really can’t taste them if you use berries and yogurt, plus a little stevia. Green powders like Amazing Grass Cacao or Barlean’s Chocolate Silk are excellent in a post workout smootie too, and have healthy ingredients like wheatgrass added that is nicely masked by the rich chocolate flavor.
7. Egg Whites
Egg whites are fat-free, high in protein and carb free. They’re excellent to eat post workout if you want strict protein and nothing else. Better yet, have your egg whites with some veggies, and be sure to add a touch of coconut oil for some healthy fats.
Raw and unsalted almonds are excellent to have post workout. They’re high in protein, B vitamins, magnesium and potassium. These nutrients are all amazing for your blood pressure, heart health, muscle health and your waistline! Plus, almonds are also an appetite tamer, and they are full of heart healthy fats. Keep it to ¼ cup and have them with a piece of fruit as your source of carbs, or a Greek yogurt and berries.
I used to have half an orange and almonds post workout, and it was the perfect snack! Oranges are rich in Vitamin C to relieve your muscles from joint pain and inflammation, plus oranges are also full of potassium and fiber. Their water content helps to rehydrate the body, and can help keep you fuller longer. Paired with almonds, they make a delightfully filling snack your muscles and heart will love!
What is your favorite food to eat after a cardio session? I’m sure we all have our favorites and I’d love to hear yours!