30 Paleo Post-Workout Carb Refuel Recipes

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carb refuelIf you’re a Paleo athlete, you need to replace carbs post-workout for good performance in the long run. And no, I’m not talking about a tray of coconut honey-caramel chocolate-drizzled Paleo pizookies after each workout.

If you’re already well-versed in carbology (I made that word up), feel free to skip down to the lip-smacking recipes below. If not, keep reading for a short primer on carbs.

[*Note, folks who are interested in fat loss or are more sedentary likely don’t need as many carbs those who are physically active people or athletes. However, you may need to play around with your carb intake to dial it in for your activity level.]

Athletes doing endurance-based or glycogen-depleting high-intensity workouts (like CrossFit, kettlebells, HIIT, etc), are prone to going too low carb because they forget to refuel with carbs post-workout (or they think Paleo is supposed to be no / low carb for everyone). If you’re a power athlete, you may want to play around with carb-cycling as another means of getting your glycogen refuel.

yam v. sweet potato

But how many carbs do I need? This will vary depending on many factors, so the best answer is to experiment. A very broad guideline for athletes is 50-100g in the post-workout window (ideally as soon as possible after the workout’s over).

The best source of carbs? Starchy veggies like sweet potato / yams, winter squash like butternut, root veggies like parsnips, etc are good options. This chart from Balanced Bites shows the carbohydrate content of several vegetables per 1 cup. The top 3 carb bang for the buck? Cassava (raw), plantain and sweet potato.

What about white potatoes? They tend to be vilified in Paleo, but when peeled (to avoid lectins and glycoalkaloids), they’re a great form of starch. If you have good body composition and are insulin-sensitive, you may want to try rotating them into your PWO refeed.

What about fruit? Starchy veggies contain, well, starch (chains of glucose) compared to fruit (the basic sugar of which is fructose). Glucose is more efficient at replacing the glycogen you’ve used up from your muscles during exercise. Fructose is preferentially broken used by the liver, not the muscles. Is this to say you can never, ever eat fruit? No, but it may be best to eat it post-workout, and it’s better to reach for a starchy veggie if you can.

What about safe starches like rice or tapioca? Rice is technically a grain (and therefore not “Paleo”) and while not perfect, for some folks is a decent alternative to rotate into their post-workout nutrition strategy. Tapioca is essentially starch (not a grain) so it would be Paleo and therefore acceptable. What’s not good about safe starches? They are pretty nutrient poor compared to equal volumes of their starchy veggie counterparts.

Notable comparisons (per 100 grams):

Sweet Potato

86 Calories

55 mg Sodium

337 mg Potassium

20 g Total Carbs

283% of daily value Vitamin A

4% of daily value Vitamin C


130 Calories

1 mg Sodium

35 mg Potassium

28 g Total Carbs

0% daily value Vitamin A

0% of daily value Vitamin C

I’ve collected 30 scrumptious recipes containing starchy veggie goodness into one place for you to browse and grouped them by the main veggie component.

Sweet Potato / Yams

5 Autumn Veggies (and Ways to Eat Them) from Jules Fuel

BBQ Pork Stuffed Sweet Potatoes from Primally Inspired


Apple Cranberry Sweet Potato Bake from Stupid Easy Paleo

Slow Cooker Chorizo Mashed Yams from Rubies and Radishes

Sweet Potato Apple Pancetta Hash from Gutsy By Nature

Sweet Potato Brussels Sprout Hash from Nicky in the Raw

Sweet Potato Disks

Sweet Potato Chips from Hollywood Homestead

Sweet Potato Disks from Yuppie Farm Girl

Sweet Potato Fries from Hollywood Homestead

The Easiest Way to Make Sweet Potato Hash Browns from Real Food RN

Turkey Sweet Potato Pie from Beauty and the Foodie

Yam, Celery Root & Bacon Hash from Rubies and Radishes

Hard Squashes 

Butternut Squash Shephard’s Pie from Primally Inspired

Delicata Squash Soup from A Girl Worth Saving

Fall Harvest Chicken Soup from Primally Inspired

Rosemary Balsamic Butternut Squash from Stupid Easy Paleo



Homemade Jamaican Banana Chips from Nourishing Time

Mashed Green Bananas from Nourishing Time

Plantain Fries from Hollywood Homestead

Puerto Rican Style Plantains (aka Monfongo) from Beauty and the Foodie

Sweet Plantain Buns from Stupid Easy Paleo


White Potatoes, Yuca, Beets, Tapioca

Oven Roasted Yuca Fries from Real Food

KosherEasy Skillet Potatoes from Real Food Outlaws

Roasted Chicken with Potatoes, Kale and Lemon from Gutsy by Nature

Rosemary Garlic Roasted Potatoes from Stupid Easy Paleo

Simple, Candied Beet Chips from Jules Fuel

Slow Cooker Baked Potato Bar from Health Home Happy

DSC_0037 2

Tapioca Flour Paleo Bread from Strands of My Life


Plantain Skillet Brownies from So Let’s Hang Out

Sweet Potatoes with Cinnamon and Coconut Sugar from Real Food Outlaws

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19 thoughts on “30 Paleo Post-Workout Carb Refuel Recipes

  1. KT

    Steph this is such an amazing resource!!! Thank you so much for gathering all of these great sites, and of course putting your recipes together :) I’m looking forward to the gains!

  2. Ole

    “What about safe starches like rice” I wouldn’t call that safe… Rice / Pasta, has 2 to 3 times as much starch, as white Potatoes ( Saw it in a chemical test Monday ) :) But if you let the Potatoes cool before eating them, the Starch is actually converted into Fibers.

    The white Potato will never be Paleo though, and the Starch in it, is made Chemically to thicken Glue, Lubricants and Paper :S

    1. Steph Post author

      Starch isn’t necessarily a bad thing in your diet, though. Starch is simply chains of glucose, a fuel used by the body.

    2. Feather

      Rice/pasta only has 2-3 times as much starch as potatoes if you are comparing *dry* rice to potatoes, which are about 75% water. Their water content doesn’t really change when boiled, while in rice and pastas the water content shoots up – to similar levels as potato.

      I don’t see what your point is about starch used for glue? Starch dissolved in just enouch water is sticky by nature. Gelatine from boiled bones and connective tissue thickens broth and beeswax can thicken fat into a nice cream, and both are perfectly paleo.

    1. Steph Post author

      Hi there…I used a serving size standard of 1 cup, not 100 g, so 45 g carbs per 1 cup (195 g) of rice is accurate. Thanks!

  3. Sandra

    Hi, just looking through your blog and I am slowly making my transition into the Paleo. Damn lollies keep getting me every time, but I’m getting better at saying no to their deliciousness. Anywoo, my goals are to lose fat gain muscle. I have been doing weight for a while with bouts of HITT and LSD running, not seeing results due to, to much cheating on my diet. My new workout routine is consisting of 3 HITT sessions a week, and 5 weights. Do you think carb loading/refeeding after workouts is still a good idea. Sorry for the ignorance, I’m still in the mind frame that to many carbs coupled with high fat = fat gain. Ps digging your site

    1. Steph Post author

      If you’re doing HIIT workouts, I’d still keep the carb refeeds on those days and maybe play the weightlifting days by ear for now :)

  4. Lewis

    good ideas for post workout carbs, however i cant see how you have summised that 1 cup of rice has less carbs than a cup of sweep potato??
    Even if we are talking 1 cup of cooked rice, it still has more than a cup of cooked sweet potato. Sweet potatos run at about 20g per 100g product, whereas rice (dry weight) runs at about 70g per 100g, and like i said, even at a cooked state, per 100g is probably around the 30g mark – but who measures in coked weight anyway?

    Great article and ideas, however rice is a far better post workout choice than potato, especially Sweet potato for a miriad of reasons.

    1. Steph Post author

      Thanks for pointing that out. My original draft had the numbers transposed, and the edit I made apparently didn’t stick. I changed the new draft to nutrition per 100 grams of each.

      I know some people who measure in cooked weight :)

      It depends how you quantify “better” actually. Higher dose of carbs for athletes who are very insulin sensitive and have expended a ton of glycogen intraworkout? Rice may win based on the ability to provide that dose in the absence of overall better nutrition and replete muscle glycogen quickly (though something like dextrose may be just as good in that context). A lower dose of carb (along with more nutrition) for less aggressively training athletes? Sweet potato wins in my book. Totally depends on your context though.

  5. Kendy

    Hey Steph! Quick question, for the PWO meal, are we talking about 50-100g of the starchy veggie, or from carbs per se? I am pretty sure it’s the first option, but I’d rather get rid of the doubt :)

  6. Brittany

    What would you recommend for someone who only does light workouts (5km run at a moderate pace)?

    Mostly all I can find online is for HIIT and people who want to really firm up. I’m not in a stage right now where that is possible for me (various reasons) but I’d still like to give my body what it needs! Thank you!!

    1. Steph Post author

      Hi Brittany! Good question. I think a little bit of extra protein and some starchy veggies at your next planned meal instead of doing a post workout could suffice.

  7. Jessica

    I am currently doing cross fit with an emphasis on olympic weightlifting and eating a paleo diet. I workout 1.5 hrs. 5 days a week. So my goal is to get 28 g of carbs post workout. The problem I am having is what to eat. I workout at 430am and then go to work at 7. So I need a quick meal that I can grab and go with healthy dense carbs at breakfast time. Do you have any ideas for some easy breakfast recipes for dense carbs?


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