Healthy Eating

The Best Foods to Feed Your Muscles After Strength Training

Muscles are built in the kitchen.

By: Lexy Parsons

You’ve crushed your strength training workout for the day, and you’re feeling good (thanks to that post-workout endorphin buzz and a killer playlist) — but your work isn’t finished quite yet! Before you mentally switch gears and run through your to-do list, don’t forget to feed your muscles after all your hard work. Post-workout nutrition is key when it comes to building strong, lean muscles — especially after resistance training. 

Before you start dreaming of your next post-workout snack, keep in mind — recovery meals may look different depending on the types of exercise and your personal goals! So, what are the best foods for strength training? Read on to find out which snacks are best to maximize your results and how to adjust your meal based on your workout and fitness goals!  

Why It’s Important to Snack After Strength Training 

post-workout snack

You’ve probably heard the saying “muscles are built in the kitchen,” and research suggests it’s true  — when it comes to the importance of a post-workout meal, that is! 

Every time you lift a weight or perform a bodyweight exercise during your FitOn strength workouts, you create small microtears in your muscles. Breaking down your muscle may sound a little counterintuitive when the goal is to get stronger — but, this is actually the first step to increasing muscle strength and size! 

The next step? Replenishing your muscles with the proper foods for strength training to help repair and rebuild. Without these nutrients, your muscles won’t be able to properly repair the damage caused during exercise, potentially leading to further muscle breakdown rather than muscle repair. As you can see, nourishing the body with the best foods for strength training after a workout is important if you want to see the best results!   

The Best Foods to Feed Your Muscles 

making a post-workout shake

When you nourish your muscles after a tough workout, don’t skimp on the carbs and protein! There’s no need to avoid these foods for fear of getting “bulky”. In fact, research suggests a 3:1 ratio of carbohydrates to protein (or 3 grams of carbohydrates for every 1 gram of protein) is the best way to build lean muscle mass, making these nutrients the best foods for strength training. 

Carbohydrates

With Keto, Paleo, and all sorts of fasting diets, carbs have been given a bad rap. But the truth is, carbohydrates are one of the best foods for strength training. Carbs not only assist in the repair and recovery phase, but they help fuel the body during a workout — a win-win!

Research suggests the addition of post-workout carbs enhances the muscle recovery process in two ways: preventing muscle breakdown and increasing protein synthesis

But, not so fast — we’re not saying you should go refuel with a bag of processed chips or candy! It’s important to enjoy clean carb sources. Here are some of the best carbohydrate-rich foods for strength training recovery:

  • Banana or other fruits
  • Sweet potatoes or starchy veggies 
  • Brown or white rice 
  • Oats or quinoa 

Protein 

Unlike carbs, protein is idolized as a key nutrient in most diets. While it’s important to eat protein regularly throughout the day, it’s especially important to consume adequate protein after your workout.  

Research suggests even a single session of resistance training causes the breakdown of muscle protein, so it’s essential to feed your muscles after every workout! Protein supplementation is one of the best foods for strength training as it provides your muscles with essential amino acids, the building blocks of protein, giving your muscles the nutrients they need to repair and rebuild. 

Here are some of the best protein-rich foods for strength training

  • Eggs
  • JS Health X FitOn Protein Powder 
  • Lean poultry, meat, or fish 
  • Unsweetened Greek yogurt 
  • Lentils and beans 
  • Nut butter such as peanut butter or almond butter 

RELATED: Is Chocolate Milk Really The Ultimate Post-Workout Drink?

How Snacks May Look Different Based on Intensity & Fitness Goals 

protein-rich post-workout overnight oats

We all have different bodies, different fitness goals, and different workout routines — so, how does that impact our post-workout needs?

Well, research suggests a 3:1 ratio of carbs to protein is the best post-workout ratio of foods for strength training, regardless of your goals. Whether you want to lean your body or build muscle, these macronutrients will help prevent muscle breakdown and stimulate the growth of lean muscle mass — which is ideal for either fitness goal! 

So, where’s the difference? If you want to tone muscle versus build muscle, the difference in what you should eat after a workout comes down to size! Of course, lifestyle factors and healthy eating habits play a large role, but in terms of post-workout nutrition, portion size is key.

If you’re looking to put on muscle mass, start by increasing the overall amount of post-workout foods for strength training while also increasing your daily calorie intake. If you’re looking to tone and shred, focus on a slow and steady caloric deficit. Remember: it’s important not to restrict calories too much — the goal should be to retain lean muscle mass while slowly shredding your physique! 

When it comes to determining your post-workout portion sizes, workout intensity and duration is a factor, too! With that in mind, here are the best snacks to eat based on your workout.

The Best Foods For Strength Training at Maximum Effort

When you go all out during a workout and leave every last drop of sweat on the floor, your post-workout fuel should be much more substantial! Think of this as a satiating meal rather than a light snack. If you’re giving your workout everything you’ve got, your energy is going to be depleted, and your muscles are going to need more nutrients to refuel! 

Here are some of the best foods for strength training when performing at your maximal effort:

  • A nourishing oatmeal bowl with an added scoop of protein and handful of fresh fruit 
  • Large salad with 4 oz. salmon or chicken and roasted sweet potato
  • Post-workout protein smoothie with berries, spinach, banana, a scoop of protein powder 
  • 2 eggs and an egg white with sauteed veggies on 2 slices of toast 

The Best Foods For Strength Training at Moderate Effort 

Maybe you had an off day at the gym and didn’t put much effort into your workout, or maybe you just decided to take it easy with a moderate workout. Sometimes less is more! Whether it was a slow yoga flow or a 15-minute fast-paced walk, the best foods for strength training at moderate effort are foods that are nutritious but light. Rather than thinking of this as a meal, consider it a snack! 

Here are healthy post-workout snacks to consider for a moderate-level workout! 

  • A single-serve Greek yogurt with a handful of berries 
  • One cup of chocolate milk 
  • Energy Balls or a protein bar 
  • 1 Rice cake with a tablespoon of almond butter or peanut butter
  • An apple with 1 tablespoon of almond butter or peanut butter 
  • A portion of nuts and berries 

RELATED: Top 7 Post-Workout Snacks + 3 Recipes

Recipes to Help You Refuel After Your Next Strength Workout 

Power Protein Smoothie

After a heart-pumping workout, refuel your muscles with something equally satiating and delicious. This FitOn Pro Power Protein Smoothie is loaded with nutrients and protein, making it one of the best foods for strength training.

Servings: 1

Ingredients:

  • 1 serving protein powder
  • 1 tbsp almond butter
  • ½ tsp stevia granules (optional)
  • ½ tsp cinnamon
  • 1 pinch sea salt
  • 1 tbsp chia seeds
  • ½ frozen banana
  • ½ cup frozen berries (optional)
  • ½ cup almond milk, or milk of choice
  • ½ cup ice cubes
  • ½ cup filtered water

To serve

  • Shredded coconut 
  • ¼ banana, sliced
  • Granola 

Directions:

  1. Place all of the ingredients into a high-speed blender and blend until combined.
  2. Pour the smoothie into a glass or bowl and top with shredded coconut, sliced banana, and homemade granola for the crunch factor.

Bircher Muesli 

Morning workout lover? This bowl is for you. If you smashed a sweaty workout sesh all before breakfast, this cozy breakfast bowl is one of the best foods for strength training when you need to refuel with something a little heartier. This FitOn PRO Bircher Muesli hits the spot every time. 

Servings: 4

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup oats, rolled
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 serving protein powder (optional)
  • 1 apple, grated
  • ½ cup slivered almonds
  • ¼ cup pumpkin seeds
  • 1 tsp sesame seeds
  • 1 tbsp shredded coconut
  • ¼ cup goji berries
  • ½ tsp cinnamon
  • 2 tbsp greek yogurt
  • 1 tsp honey (optional)

Directions:

  1. In a large bowl, combine the rolled oats with water or milk. Stir to combine. Place the bowl in the fridge and allow to soak for 6-8 hours, or overnight.
  2. Once soaked, combine the oats with the remaining ingredients and stir through, 
  3. Serve immediately.

Refuel Those Tired Muscles With a Delicious Post-Workout Meal 

No matter what your fitness goals, it’s important to refuel those tired muscles post-strength training. The good news is that there are plenty of nourishing and delicious ways to snack post-workout. After your next workout, try one of these foods to eat after strength training. They may give you that post-workout energy boost your body needs! 

For more delicious recipes, join FitOn PRO for access to personalized meal plans and exclusive recipes to reach your fitness goals faster without counting calories and with foods you’ll love to eat.