Hi Hayley,
Can you recommend some foods I should be eating after I work out in the evenings? The only time I can work out is around 8pm after my daughter is in bed, but I've found some great online programs and do a variety of cardio, weights, and yoga. I'm feeling great but never know what I should eat when I finish around 8:45, especially when I like to go to bed around 10/10:30. I want to fuel my body properly but don't want to go to bed feeling too full.


My suggestion for you is to plan your food throughout your day so that you do not have to eat anything after your workout, or at very most you have a small snack, but it depends on what your ultimate goal is. If you are training for an event, which could be anything, and it is extremely important that you are consuming as many calories as you are burning in a day, then you absolutely need to make sure you are fueling properly after your evening workouts. When your workouts become about optimal performance you must make sure you are fueled and hydrated or else your body will not experience the benefits needed to accomplish the goal that you are working towards.
For example, when you are training for an endurance event, such as a triathlon or a marathon, it can be quite difficult to lose weight and many novice athletes will gain weight during these training months, myself included. Why? Because you are always hungry and being hungry is not ideal when you are looking for maximum performance on your Sunday run. When you are hungry you do not always make the best decisions on what to put into your body, so more times than not you grab whatever is quick and easy instead of healthy and wholesome. During these times, food preparation is just as important as time spent training.

Now, if you are working out to lose weight, or to just be healthy, the meals are not as important, meaning you do not need to make sure you have spent your day fueling to prepare for the workout that is coming later. On the other side, if you are trying to lose weight you actually need to create a bit of a deficit in your daily caloric consumption.

To make a long story short, and to answer your question, here is what I recommend. Focus on your breakfast. Make it your healthiest meal of the day. Eggs. Avocado. Steal cut oats. Nut butters.  Smoothies. Superfoods. Start your day as healthy as possible, and start it as early as possible.  Literally wake up and eat breakfast. Pack some healthy snacks, like nuts, dried fruit, salads loaded with proteins (eggs, tofu, chicken, fish, chickpeas, etc.) to get you through your day and then have a healthy lunch, but a tad smaller than breakfast. A mid-afternoon snack should be had and then something small for dinner.  

Dinner should be light and you should eat it two hours before your workout. There are a couple of options here. Eat your full size dinner, and then have that as your last meal of the day. Or, eat ¾ of it and save the rest for after your workout. Now if you eat your full dinner but find you are starving after your workout there are a few options to keep you full until morning. You can have some leafy green vegetables (broccoli, spinach, celery or even cucumber) with some hummus or a hard boiled egg, or a small serving of protein powder mixed with water. In all honesty, if you have eaten all of your healthy foods throughout the day and you have a large, wholesome breakfast planned for when you wake up, you should be fine with a little bit of hunger before bed. Sometimes all you really need is a large glass of water.