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The best snacks to eat after a cardio workout

Peanut butter toast

Working out means working up an appetite. After a muscle-busting gym sesh or a fiery fitness class, you’re tired, you’re hungry and you need some grub. But it’s not just your stomach that you’re feeding—your muscles need the right combo of nutrients from a healthy snack to really start recovering.

Most nutritionists recommend trying to eat as soon as 30 minutes after you finish sweating, and the balance of nutrients you need will vary with each different type of workout you do. With all workouts, carbohydrates and protein are essential, but when it comes to what you should eat after a cardio workout, you’ll typically need more carbs to help restore the energy you’ve lost.

After a light cardio session:

A light cardio session is typically one that is under 30 minutes. You’ll need about 1 gram of protein for every 1 to 2 grams of carbs you eat. The carbs will get you some much needed energy, and the protein will help your muscles recover. Aim to get 10 to 15 grams of protein, 30 grams of carbohydrates, and 150 to 250 calories.


  • Peanut butter toast
  • 5 ounces Greek yogurt
  • Apple and 2 tablespoons peanut butter
  • 5 to 10 crackers and string cheese
  • 1 ounce nuts and 1/4 cup dried fruit

After an intense cardio session:

After longer, harder session, the ratio of carbohydrate to protein bumps up to 3-to-1, and sometimes even 4-to-1. That means it’s time to beef up your snacks. The foods you choose should border on full meals, especially if you’re training for a race. You’ll need about 15 to 30 grams of protein, 30 to 90 grams of carbohydrates, and 250 to 350 calories.


  • 1/2 turkey wrap with veggies
  • Fruit smoothie made with Greek yogurt and milk
  • Hummus and tomato on pita bread
  • Reduced fat cheese and crackers with fresh fruit
  • Peanut butter and banana sandwich

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