The Best Vegetarian Post-Workout Snacks

If you’re wondering what vegetarian post workout snacks to reach for, use this list. Plus, find out how much protein to reach for!

woman sitting on the ground doing crunches

I’m going to share a secret with you. Before I went to school to become a registered dietitian nutritionist, I didn’t know you were supposed to eat after a workout.

But it totally makes sense that you should eat a recovery meal or snack.

You see, you need a high-protein after-workout meal or snack to help you build muscle, reduce muscle soreness, and even help you to lose weight if that’s your goal.

Although there’s no blanket rule for what to eat, I’m giving you guidelines that’ll help with your fitness goals and even with reduced muscle soreness. We’ll look into the top vegetarian post-workout snacks and more.

woman smiling at the camera wearing workout gear while running up some steps

Why post-workout snacks are important

Nothing feels better than ending a tough workout with quivering muscles and drips of sweat all over.

But no matter how hard you worked during your strength training or cardio session, you might not get *all* the health benefits if you don’t nourish your body properly in the hours afterward.

What do I mean by this? In the minutes and hours after your hard workout, your muscles are thirsty for protein and carbohydrates.

These nutrients help both to repair your muscles and prevent them from getting injured and to help grow your muscles. Popeye benefits, anyone? So it’s important to nourish your body correctly.

top down view of three glass bottles filled with colorful smoothies

How much protein to pack into a snack

Before we get into the nitty gritty of the top post-workout snacks, let’s talk about a main component of pre-workout nutrient: protein.

You may not realize it, but the exact moment you consume your after-workout eats—especially the protein-packed ones—matters.

Did you know that athletes need more protein than the average person?

Because athletes—including runners and weight lifters—are constantly breaking down and building up muscle, they need extra protein to repair and make new (bigger!) muscles.

A position paper released by the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, the Dietitians of Canada, and the American College of Sports Medicine brings up an important point.

Here it is: Athletes should take in more protein, 0.11 to 0.14 grams per pound (17 to 21 grams for a 150-pound woman) right after they do a hard workout—so within a 30-minute to 2-hour window.

This will help athletes better recover. They should also eat carbs with that post-workout protein. An example snack: ½ cup cottage cheese with a banana and 1 Tablespoon almond butter. We’ll look at some more ideas for post-workout snacks below!

Note: A hard workout means something like a longer run, interval training, or a weight-lifting session. If you run a few miles or do a fairly easy aerobics class, you can can have a smaller snack with about 10 grams protein, as well as some carbs.

woman working out in a gym with battle ropes

Ideas for vegetarian post-workout snacks

I like my snacks a lot. I eat one or two most days, and I time these around my workouts (these days, yoga and Pilates classes!).

I’ll usually have a snack either an hour before I get moving or 30 minutes to two hours after my workout. Because I plan it this way, I’m not adding extra snacks to my day. Of course, you can also plan out your meals for your post-workout eats, too. 

Use these dietitian-approved ideas for after-workout breakfasts (hello, balanced meals!), protein-packed snacks, and beyond.

glass filled with a smoothie next to a bowl of sliced bananas

Banana + steamed milk

This is one of my favorite post-workout snacks. The steamed milk dresses up regular milk, and it provides both protein and carbs to fuel me. The banana provides additional filling fiber. 

Try it: 1 banana + 1 cup steamed 1% milk

2.   Greek Yogurt + Fruit + Nuts

 “My favorite thing to eat after a workout is plain low-fat Greek yogurt with a cup of fresh fruit and a sprinkle of walnuts or almonds,” says Alissa Rumsey, MS, RD, CSCS, author of Unapologetic Eating.

“This provides a good balance of protein and carbohydrates to help with muscle recovery and replenish glycogen stores, while the fat in the nuts helps keep me full longer,” she says.

Try it: ½ cup plain low-fat Greek yogurt + ½ cup fruit + ½ Tbsp walnuts 

a bowl of steamed edamame topped with chili flakes

3.  Edamame

 “The protein and carbs in edamame help you through a workout or repair muscles after a workout,” says Natalie Rizzo, MS, RD, a sports dietitian in New York City.

Try it: ½ cup shelled edamame 

4. Sweet Potato + Parmesan

“Roast a sweet potato and sprinkle some Parmesan cheese on it,” suggests Sarah Koszyk, MA, RDN, author of 25 Anti-Aging Smoothies for Revitalizing, Glowing Skin

“This snack provides a fabulous afternoon pick-me-up when you need some more energy to get you through the day,” she says. “The sweet potato also has antioxidants and vitamin C and A for additional health benefits.”

Try it: 1 small baked sweet potato + ½ Tbsp grated Parmesan

two people running by water

More post-workout snack ideas

Hungry for more vegetarian post-workout snacking ideas? Here you go!

Final thoughts

Although it may be surprising to hear, you should eat a snack after a hard workout. And that post-workout snack should contain ample protein and carbohydrates.


If you're wondering what vegetarian post workout snacks to reach for, use this list. Plus, find out how much protein to reach for!

I’d love to hear from you! What are your favorite vegetarian post-workout snacks?

Plant-Based Eating |

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