Should You Eat After an Evening Workout?

Green smoothie
An overhead view of a green smoothie with ground flaxseeds. (Image: mariemilyphotos/iStock/Getty Images)

Eating within two hours of your workout is imperative, even if you usually exercise at night. When you exercise, your body depletes its glycogen stores. Eating replenishes these stores, helping your body recover and repair itself more quickly. Talk to your doctor before you make changes in your diet or exercise routine, especially if you have allergies, health conditions or injuries.

Dinner

If you haven't eaten dinner, eat within two hours of your workout to keep yourself energized for the rest of the night. Choose a dinner full of carbohydrates -- which provide fast-acting energy for the body -- and protein, which provides long-lasting energy. Opt for a nutritious, hearty meal like a turkey sandwich on whole-grain bread with avocado, lettuce and tomato; a bowl of whole-grain pasta with steamed vegetables and sliced chicken breast; or a piece of fish with brown rice and a small green salad.

Light Snack

If you're unable to eat dinner within the next two hours, or you've already eaten dinner before your workout, grab a light snack within 15 minutes after exercising. As soon as you get home from the gym, grab something quick and easy to munch on that contains both carbohydrates and protein; this can include a piece of whole-grain toast with peanut butter, a piece of whole-grain pita bread with hummus or a handful of crackers with low-fat cheese on top.

Protein Shake

If you aren't usually hungry after exercising, whip up a protein shake to refuel your body within approximately a half-hour of your workout. Combine two scoops of whey protein powder, 2 cups of water and half of a banana in a blender until the mixture is completely combined. Sip the mixture slowly and then follow it with an 8-ounce glass of water to ensure you are adequately hydrated.

On-the-Go

Even if you lack time to stop at home after your workout, you don't have to go without eating. Pack a nutritious snack in your backpack to keep your body energized on the run. Grab a piece of string cheese and a few whole-grain crackers, a container of yogurt with sliced strawberries or a granola bar to eat within 15 minutes of your workout.

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