Triathletes Food Guide for Post-Workout Recovery

Do you put as much thought into your post-workout meals and snacks as you do your actual workouts? When you’re an athlete, you plan your workouts carefully to achieve your goals. You work out at the right times of day and do the right activities to build the power and strength you need. But your post-workout meal is just as important in helping you achieve your goals.

If you want to build muscle and achieve your fitness goals, nutrition experts say that eating the right food after a workout is nearly as important as the exercise itself.

The foods you eat before and after a workout are both important.

Some foods are better than others when it comes to helping your muscles recover after a workout. If you want to get the most out of your exercise routine, you should know which foods are best to eat after a workout.

The best foods for muscle recovery

Now that you know that you need to eat essential nutrients after your workout, here are the muscle recovery foods that contain them:

1. Nuts and seeds

Free photo nuts,walnut, peanuts and almond seeds

Nuts and seeds are a good source of omega-3 fatty acids and protein, making them a good choice for a snack after a workout. All types of edible nuts and seeds are good for you, but some are better than others.

If you have a choice, try snacking on:

  • Walnuts
  • Hazelnuts
  • Almonds
  • Pecans
  • Chia seeds
  • Flaxseeds

2. Spinach

Free photo spinach on the table

There’s a reason Popeye the Sailor Man ate spinach. This leafy green is high in protein, containing around 5 grams per cup, as well as anti-inflammatory vitamins like C, A, and B. So, if you’re looking to improve your muscle recovery after a workout, add some spinach to your shake.

3. Cottage cheese

Free photo milk products on wooden table

Cottage cheese contains 28 grams of protein per cup, which helps with muscle recovery.

Greek yoghurt has been receiving a lot of attention in recent years while poor cottage cheese has been neglected.

While both cottage cheese and yoghurt are great, cottage cheese actually has more protein gram for gram. Cottage cheese also has just under 3 grams of leucine per 1 cup. This amount of leucine has been shown to help with building and/or maintaining muscle.

Good Culture’s single-serve Cottage Cheese (plain or flavoured) is a great on-the-go option and can be found at Target stores.

4. Citrus fruits

Free photo citrus background with assorted fresh citrus fruits

Citrus fruits contain lots of Vitamin C, which reduces inflammation and helps to maintain the health and integrity of your bones and soft tissues. Some of the best citrus fruits to eat after your workout are:

  • Kiwi
  • Grapefruit
  • Limes
  • Lemons
  • Oranges

5. Fish

Free photo top view mix of fresh fishes on ice

Foods high in protein and omega-3s, like fish, are great for muscle recovery. Fish is also anti-inflammatory, so it helps reduce swelling and pain. Fatty fish like salmon, tuna, and sardines are especially effective.

6. Eggs

Free photo close-up fresh chicken eggs

Eggs are an excellent choice as a post-workout snack because they are packed with protein, which is essential for muscle repair and recovery.

Eating whole eggs can help you get ripped (to get a good workout going).

The researchers found that the whole-egg eaters produced more protein synthesis—about 22% more than the egg-white eaters. The study found that men who regularly lift weights and ate whole eggs after exercise had higher rates of protein synthesis than those who ate egg whites.

Whole eggs were found to be better for muscle building than egg whites, even when there was the same amount of protein present.

The authors of the study suggest that the nutrients in the yolk, such as healthy fats, vitamins, and minerals like phosphorus and iron, help your tired muscles to use the protein in the whites more effectively.

Combine several hard-boiled eggs with Greek yoghurt, curry powder, and salt. Spread try the mixture over rye crackers – delicious.

7. Bananas

Free vector various banana fruits flat icon set. cartoon exotic natural dessert isolated vector illustration collection.


Bananas are known to be a great source of nutrients for muscle recovery. They contain carbohydrates, which help replenish glycogen levels, and potassium. Potassium is an electrolyte that is lost when sweating and is essential for heart health.

8. Sweet potatoes

Free photo sweet potato

The following text is discussing the benefits of eating sweet treats post-workout. The Sweet treats help replenish glycogen, as well as improve health with potassium and Vitamin C adding a healthy protein source is the ultimate way to create a healthy meal post-workout.

A report in the Journal of Applied Physiology found that consuming carb-rich foods can help reduce the decline in your immune system that can happen after strenuous exercise.

Although you may be concerned about the impact on your body, Marni Sumbal (Master of Science in Exercise Physiology) reassures you that the carbs consumed after working out are more likely to be used for energy than stored as fat.

Place 1 medium peeled and cubed sweet potato and 1 tablespoon of water in a microwave-safe bowl. Cover the bowl tightly with plastic wrap and poke a few holes in it. Cook on high for 6 minutes or until the potato is very tender. Remove the plastic wrap and mash the potato with 1/3 cup applesauce and 1/2 teaspoon ginger powder. Scatter on dried cranberries and pumpkin seeds.

9. Watermelon

Free photo fresh sliced watermelon on wooden background

If you work out and sweat, you will need to rehydrate later. Watermelon is a great choice for hydration because it is 92% water. It also contains Vitamin C to help with inflammation as well as other essential vitamins and minerals.

10. Whole grains

Free photo assortment of common food allergens for people

Whole grains contain important nutrients like carbohydrates for energy, fibre for a healthy gut and weight loss, and other essential nutrients. The best whole grains to eat for muscle recovery are:

  • Oats
  • Quinoa
  • Brown rice

11. Red meat

Free photo top view of meat with garlic and herbs

Protein in red meat will help with muscle recovery. Choose lean, organic cuts where possible and limit intake to a couple times per week.

12. Yoghurt

Free photo organic yogurt bowl with oats on the table

Yoghurt, especially Greek yoghurt, is one of the best foods for recovering muscles because it contains protein and calcium. It is also very convenient to grab and go when you are in a hurry and will help you avoid choosing less healthy options.

13. Oils

Free photo tasty looking olives extra virgin olive oil and olive leafs on dark wooden background

A common misconception is that eating oils is bad for health and weight loss when in reality, it all comes down to the type of oils consumed. Here are some of the best oils for recovery:

  • Olive oil, which contains omega-3s
  • Mustard oil
  • Fish oil
  • Coconut oil
  • Flaxseed oil

14. Turmeric

Free photo turmeric powder

This isn’t a food, but it’s still a great choice after a workout. Turmeric is a yellow spice with amazing anti-inflammatory properties. You can add it to smoothie bowls, soups, or curries, and it makes food taste great.

15. Tart cherry juice

Free photo side view two cherry glasses of juice with cherries on tray

The antioxidants and anti-inflammatory compounds in tart cherry juice can help athletes recover from intense training.

Several studies have shown that tart cherry juice can help with post-workout recovery, not just for weightlifting but for other exercises as well. For example, a recent study in the Scandinavian Journal of Medicine & Science in Sports found that tart cherry juice improved various aspects of exercise performance in cyclists.

Tart cherry juice not only lowered systolic blood pressure 90 minutes after exercise but also may help with sleep.

16. Ricotta

Free photo sandwich with cottage cheese, radish, black pepper and thyme

A Minimum of 9 grams of Dairy is all that is needed to begin the process of building muscle, According to research done by the Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition.

The study found that men who drank a milk-based drink with 9 grams of protein after a lower-body strength training session saw a greater increase in muscle-building than those who drank a carbohydrate-only beverage.

According to Sumbal, when muscles are loaded with training stress, the mTOR protein is activated. mTOR is then able to stimulate protein synthesis. Dairy is high in the amino acids needed for this process.

A 1/2 cup serving of ricotta offers 14 grams of milk protein as well as whey protein. Whey protein is high in leucine, which is an essential amino acid that is effective in signalling mTOR to start new muscle growth, according to Sumbal.

17. Smoked salmon

smoked salmon

Research has found that eating fish that contain omega-3 fatty acids, such as salmon, sardines, and mackerel may lead to less muscle soreness after you exercise.

Omega-3s may improve your muscles’ response to exercise by reducing the inflammation that can cause pain.

Research from the Washington University School of Medicine has shown that omega-3 fats can activate pathways in your body that lead to increased muscle protein synthesis.

18. Herbal tea

Free photo set of wood stubs and a cup of tea and tea herbs in a bowls on a dark textured background. flat lay.

Yerba mate is a herbal tea. This tea, commonly known simply as mate, is popular in parts of South America. The leaves and twigs of the yerba mate plant are dried, typically over a fire, and steeped in hot water to make herbal tea. Yerba mate may be served cold or hot. Like black tea, yerba mate contains caffeine, which is a stimulant.

A study conducted by the British Journal of Nutrition found that men who drank yerba mate tea (200 mL three times daily) were more quickly able to recover from eccentric exercise than when they only drank water.

It is possible that phenol antioxidants, which are naturally found in the Ilex paraguariensis shrub where mate comes from, are responsible for the benefits of a mate. Since yerba mate also contains some naturally occurring stimulants, it may help boost your energy before a workout.

Bring a litre of water to just below a boil, then pour it over yerba mate tea bags or loose leaf mate. Let it steep in the fridge for at least four hours, then stir in the juice of one lemon. After working out, drink a cup of tea.

19. Whole-grain bread

Free photo close-up view of seed bread concept

Bread is often blamed for being unhealthy, but carbs like those found in whole-grain bread help provide energy for working muscles. Quality carbs found in whole-grain bread also help to replenish muscles.

Don’t stress too much about it.

20. Quinoa

Free photo plate of salmon with quinoa and raw vegetables

This grain is a great addition to any diet, but especially ideal for those following a gluten-free, vegan or vegetarian diet who are looking to increase protein and fibre intake.

When to eat after a workout

After deciding which foods will help your muscles recover, you need to determine when to eat them.

Once you finish working out, your body immediately starts trying to repair any damage to your muscles and replenish glycogen levels. To make sure your body has the nutrients it needs, it’s important to eat something soon after exercising.

The time you have to optimize your recovery by eating the right foods vary, but it is usually best to eat within 45 minutes of your workout.

If you don’t have time to eat right after your workout, don’t worry. Some research suggests that you have up to several hours after exercise to refuel.

Importance of recovery foods

Working out hard puts a lot of wear and tear on your body. To recover properly and become stronger, you need to consume the right nutrients. Eating the right foods after a workout helps your body heal faster and get stronger.


When you’re an athlete, it can be tough to strike a balance between maintaining and improving your health. You have to factor in how hard you train with how your body is feeling.

If you don’t strike the right balance with your workout routine, you could end up injured and sidelined for days, weeks, or even months. A well-balanced routine will help you recover more quickly from workouts and prevent injuries that could impair your everyday life and future workouts.

You can improve your body’s muscle recovery by eating certain foods. This will help you perform better when it matters most.


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