There are people that do cardio in order to maintain the good health of their heart, but to be honest most of us decides on cardio in the desire to lose weight. Therefore it is very important to know what is best to eat after a cardio workout.

If you focus on the meal after the workout you will be able to significantly increase the loss of fat during your workout as well as after it.

In order to decide what to eat after the workout first, you have to realize that the amount, as well as the kind of food you consume,  affects your hormone levels.

Hormones directly participate in the burning or not burning of body fat. Constantly high levels of hormones that are influencing the loss of fat and hormones whose level increases during the workout are one of the main factors in determining what is the best food after the cardio. Let’s start with the simplest thing.


As we all know there is no point in eating fatty food after cardio. Even if you do not know anything about physiology use common sense. 

It is simple, it’s not reasonable eating huge amount of nutritive fat straight after you stepped off the treadmill. 

The reason is that nutritive fat transfers into body fat much more than carbs and proteins.


Protein is anti-catabolic. Nutritive amino acids that come from protein can be used as fuel straight after cardio. It happens very often that we use our body’s protein supply during cardio workout.

Meaning, along with the burning of larger amount of fat, longer cardio training can lead to the loss of the muscle as protein prevents the loss of muscle mass, it is essential that we consume the protein-rich food after a cardio workout.


Carbs can be tricky. They are essential for recovery and growth, however, they can cause the body fat to pile up.

Carbs affect the growth of the insulin level and insulin can be added to hormones that are responsible for the accumulation of fat.

Speaking in general, the more carbs we consume the more insulin our body produces. Insulin regulates the signals that make fat cells to “open” and accumulate more body fat. At the same time, insulin directs nutritive fat to fat cells.

Does it make sense eating more carbs after the cardio? Not really. When we eat food rich with carbs our level of insulin grows and at the same time the level of hormones and enzymes that affect the burning of fat, and are released during cardio, diminishes.

So what are we supposed to eat after a cardio workout? Many people know that a protein shake with a lot of carbs is good after weight training but there are a few of those that know which food is the best after cardio training, the training whose goal is burning of fat.

Advantages of Cardio

Two advantages of a cardio workout are, first – cardio helps you burn calories, second – cardio changes the structure of hormones in your body.

The number of carbs you take as well as the choice of food you consume after the cardio workout influences the balance of hormones in your body.

Cardio workout raises the circulation of catecholamines, tiny “messengers” whose  goal is the degradation of fat cells.

Insulin minimizes the release of catecholamines. So it seems to be best avoiding the carbs after a cardio workout in order to keep the level of the hormones that influence fat burn constantly higher.

On the other hand, small amounts of insulin boost up metabolism. How does it do that? Insulin itself is anabolic. It stimulates the growth and recovery of muscles. At the same time during the recovery or growth, the body literally steals from its fat supplies in order to provide the energy and support the process.

Recovery and growth of the muscles demand fuel (energy), and the big amount of that fuel comes from accumulated body fat. Insulin also influences that the bigger amount of hormone of the adrenal gland gets to the tissue. The hormone of the adrenal gland helps with fat burn.

To Summarize

Considering carbs, after the cardio workout you should keep in mind the following:

  • A large number  of carbs you consume will stop the burning of fat
  • If you completely eliminate the carbs only the protein will remain. And even tho protein helps in the process of eliminating the fat your body still need at least a small amount of carbs.
  • A small amount of carbs helps with the process of recovery and growth and does not stop the burning of the fat
  • A small number of carbs together with the protein can help to maintain the level of the adrenal gland hormone.

It is best to consume 25-40g of protein which is easily absorbed, such as egg white or fish along with 30-50g of carbs within the 30 mins after your cardio workout. What would be ideal is that the carbs you consume are rich in fibre.

Fibre slows down the degradation of the carbs that leads to the moderate growth of levels of insulin in the body which is the goal if you are trying to lose weight.

You should avoid free carbs like white bread or fruit juices because they very often significantly raise the level of insulin.