Halperin agrees and says combining these for a “post-workout trifecta” is ideal. She lists yogurt and fruit, peanut butter sandwiches, turkey on whole grain bread with vegetables, hummus with whole wheat pita and veggies, and chicken with brown rice as some of the simple combos you can make yourself after exercising.
Carbs are what you need to replenish your energy, especially if you’re training for several hours or multiple times a day. Stangland says that complex carbohydrates (a.k.a. minimally processed) are the best types of carbs as they will provide a rich source of vitamins, minerals, and fibers. These include foods like whole grain bread, brown rice, vegetables, and fruit.
Halperin says that protein is what helps repair and build muscle, as studies show that taking in 20 to 40 grams is the right amount of protein to help the body maximize muscle growth and health after a workout. You can get your source of good protein in foods like eggs, yogurt, cheese, beans, tofu, tempeh, fish, shellfish, chicken, and turkey.
Stangland adds that foods with high leucine content, which can be found in chicken, fish, and cheese, are also a great option as they contain amino acids that turn on muscle protein synthesis.
Carbs and protein also help with recovery. Halperin points to studies that show consuming carbohydrates in a 3:1 ratio to protein has the most benefits to recovering your body after exercise. But there are other foods you can consider working into your post-workout meal.
“Anti-inflammatory foods are great after a workout to help with recovery and reducing muscle soreness,” says Stangland. “These could be tart cherries, turmeric, dark leafy greens, and deep-colored wild berries.”
She adds that you can look to omega-3 fats, like those found in salmon, olive oil