The Best Carbs to Eat After a Workout and Why

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If you’ve just worked out, you’re in need of fast recovery to repair muscle damage and fuel back up with those depleted nutrients and electrolytes lost through sweat. That means you will want to eat something with good carbs for immediate energy as well as muscle-building protein and good fats to keep you fuller, longer, and to reduce inflammation in the body.

Yet, not all carbs are equal. Some carbs are totally refined, meaning they lack fiber and don’t offer much nutritional value, while other carbs are complex and have rich fiber, so they can tide you over until your next meal. Not sure which carbs to eat after a workout? Here are the best ones to choose from.

Protein Bar

While a protein bar has protein to improve recovery, it also has some carbs—even if it’s a low-carb bar, there will be carbohydrate grams, which just happen to be negated due to a higher fiber content or lack of sugar. (Those are good things too!) Plus, protein bars are easy to stash in your gym bag and eat when you need that bite but can’t stop for a real meal. And they come in delicious flavors, like Birthday Cake!

Chips and Dip

Whether you choose protein chips or plain whole grain crackers or healthy baked chips, you can then pair with a dip, like guacamole, hummus or nut butter, all of which have good protein and fats to fill you up and help aid in muscle repair. Pair with added protein if you like, such as a jerky stick, or add some slivered nuts or seeds to the dip, too.


Made with fast-acting carbs, a banana is an excellent snack after a workout since it also has magnesium to help reduce inflammation and fight muscle soreness, as well as potassium to balance out the electrolytes that were lost. Plus, it’s easy to take on the go. Just pair with protein and fat, like peanut butter and protein powder in a protein shake, or a yogurt with nuts and seeds.

Shake or Smoothie

Sometimes it’s easier to drink your recovery, so have a ready-to-drink protein shake or a quick shake via protein powder. A great benefit to this route is you can add in other ingredients like veggies, fruit, nuts or seeds, or a creamy base, like yogurt, nut butter or avocado, to create a power smoothie that meets all your macronutrient needs.