May 23, 2023

Top Picks for Healthy Eating in Chicago: Your Post-Workout Guide

By Rahul Malpe
Top Picks for Healthy Eating in Chicago: Your Post-Workout Guide

Alright, so here's the deal – Chicago has got you covered when it comes to healthy post-workout meals that'll make your taste buds dance. 

Seriously, this city has a little bit of everything for everyone, no matter what you're into.

We've been out and about, scoping out the food scene in Chi-town to bring you our top picks for the ultimate post-workout eats across different neighborhoods. 

These dishes are not just mouth-watering, but they're also packed with all the good stuff your body craves after pushing it to the limit.

So, let's not waste any more time – come along as we take a tasty tour of Windy City's best post-workout bites!

South Loop

This place is a fantastic mix of old and new, with historic buildings alongside sleek modern high-rises. 

Since it's home to tons of fitness studios, gyms, and parks, it's no surprise that the South Loop has plenty of eateries serving up healthy and delicious post-workout meals. 

Here are some great places to fuel up after a workout.

South Loop Market

For a quick and healthy post-workout option in the South Loop, Bryant suggests stopping by the South Loop Market. 

This neighborhood grocery store offers a variety of fresh, premade salads that are perfect for refueling after a workout. 

Each salad provides an excellent balance of nutrients, with a mix of leafy greens, vegetables, lean protein, and healthy fats:

Serving size: 1 Salad (varies by type)

  • Calories: 300-500
  • Fat: 10-25g
  • Net Carbs: 20-40g 
  • Total Carbs: 25-45g
  • Fiber: 5g
  • Protein: 15-35g

The South Loop Market is an ideal choice for those looking for a convenient, healthy meal option that's easy to grab and go.


Lou's go-to post-workout meal in the South Loop is the Mexicana Roll at Umai, a contemporary Japanese restaurant known for its inventive sushi rolls and top-quality ingredients.

The Mexicana Roll is a unique fusion of Japanese and Mexican flavors, featuring spicy tuna, avocado, jalapeno, cilantro, and a zesty lime sauce. Here's the nutritional breakdown for the Mexicana Roll:

Serving size: 1 Roll (8 pieces)

  • Calories: 380
  • Fat: 12g
  • Net Carbs: 42g
  • Total Carbs: 48g
  • Fiber: 6g
  • Protein: 20g

Umai's sushi rolls offer a delicious and nutritious way to replenish your body after a workout, with the Mexicana Roll providing a particularly refreshing and flavorful option.

Half Sour

Marina loves Half Sour, a modern deli and bar that serves up mouthwatering sandwiches, wraps, and salads. 

For a post-workout meal, she recommends trying their daily specials or going for the Chicken Wrap, which is filled with juicy grilled chicken, mixed greens, and a tangy honey mustard sauce:

Serving size: 1 Wrap

  • Calories: 550
  • Fat: 20g
  • Net Carbs: 50g 
  • Total Carbs: 55g
  • Fiber: 5g
  • Protein: 35g

With its welcoming atmosphere, friendly service, and delicious menu options, Half Sour is a perfect spot to unwind and refuel after a workout in the South Loop.


Des loves the Chicken Nuggets from Chick-fil-A as a convenient and protein-packed post-workout snack. 

These bite-sized morsels are made from all-white meat chicken, seasoned and breaded to perfection, offering a delicious way to refuel:

Serving size: 8 Nuggets

  • Calories: 260
  • Fat: 12g
  • Net Carbs: 8g 
  • Total Carbs: 9g
  • Fiber: 1g
  • Protein: 28g

Chick-fil-A's numerous locations across the city make it an easily accessible option for a quick, tasty, and protein-rich post-workout snack.

Panda Express

Kai's go-to post-workout meal at Panda Express is the Super Greens & Teriyaki Chicken (No Sauce). 

The Super Greens is a nutritious side dish made with a mix of broccoli, kale, and cabbage, while the Teriyaki Chicken features tender, grilled chicken marinated in a savory teriyaki sauce. 

By opting for no sauce, you can cut down on unnecessary calories and sugar while still enjoying the delicious flavors of the dish. 

Panda Express is a well-known fast-food chain that offers a variety of Chinese-inspired dishes in a casual setting.

Serving size: 3.5 oz serving Super Greens & 6 oz Teriyaki Chicken (No Sauce)

  • Calories: 320
  • Fat: 12g
  • Net Carbs: 16g 
  • Total Carbs: 19g
  • Fiber: 3g
  • Protein: 36g

Bonus Picks:

Flacos Tacos is a local favorite, offering a wide variety of delicious, authentic Mexican dishes in a casual atmosphere. 

Kai recommends the Al Pastor Tacos, which are made with marinated pork, pineapple, onion, cilantro, and a squeeze of lime, all served on warm corn tortillas. 

For sushi lovers, Osaka Sushi & Fresh Fruit Veggies is another great option in the South Loop area.

Lou recommends the Salmon Don, a rice bowl topped with fresh, sliced salmon sashimi, avocado, and a drizzle of soy sauce.

Logan Square

With its mix of trendy bars, hip cafes, and family-owned restaurants, this lively area offers a range of healthy post-workout meals to cater to the needs of fitness enthusiasts and foodies alike. 

Take a look at what this neighborhood has to offer.

Fruit Paradise

Located in the heart of Logan Square, Fruit Paradise is a colorful and lively eatery that specializes in fresh fruit smoothies and scrumptious Venezuelan arepas. 

If you're looking for a post-workout meal that's both delicious and nutritious, Bryant suggests trying the Catira Chicken Arepa, which offers a well-balanced combination of protein, carbs, and healthy fats:

Serving size: 1 Arepa

  • Calories: 400
  • Fat: 20g
  • Net Carbs: 28g 
  • Total Carbs: 30g
  • Fiber: 2g
  • Protein: 25g

Bryant also recommends pairing the arepa with a refreshing Mangoberry Smoothie. 

Made with fresh mangoes, strawberries, coconut, and orange juice, the smoothie also includes a generous scoop of whey protein to aid muscle recovery:

Serving size: 1 Smoothie

  • Calories: 350
  • Fat: 5g
  • Net Carbs: 55g 
  • Total Carbs: 60g
  • Fiber: 5g
  • Protein: 25g

With its vibrant atmosphere, friendly staff, and a mouthwatering menu, Fruit Paradise is an excellent spot to refuel after a workout in Logan Square.

Chiya Chai

Chiya Chai is a cozy and inviting cafe known for its extensive selection of aromatic chai teas and delicious Nepalese-inspired dishes. 

Megan's top pick for a post-workout meal is the Chicken Chai Masala Pot Pie, which artfully combines Eastern and Western flavors in a unique and scrumptious fusion dish. 

This satisfying meal offers a well-rounded mix of macronutrients for post-workout recovery:

Serving size: 1 Pot Pie

  • Calories: 600
  • Fat: 30g
  • Net Carbs: 43g (45g total carbs - 2g fiber)
  • Total Carbs: 45g
  • Fiber: 2g
  • Protein: 35g

In addition to its delightful food offerings, Chiya Chai also boasts a warm and welcoming atmosphere, making it an ideal spot to relax and unwind after an intense workout session.

Dunkin' Donuts

While Dunkin' Donuts may be best known for its coffee, donuts, and breakfast sandwiches, it also offers a surprisingly healthy and convenient post-workout snack: Omelette Bites. 

These bite-sized delights are packed with protein, making them an excellent choice for refueling after hitting the gym. 

The nutritional information for each Omelette Bite is as follows:

Serving size: 2 Omelette Bites

  • Calories: 280
  • Fat: 19g
  • Net Carbs: 7g
  • Total Carbs: 7g
  • Fiber: 0g
  • Protein: 17g

With multiple locations across the city, Dunkin' Donuts is a convenient and budget-friendly option for grabbing a quick, protein-packed snack after your workout.

Spicy Taco

Lou's favorite post-workout meal can be found at Spicy Taco, a casual Mexican fast-food joint offering a wide variety of delicious and filling dishes. 

The Grilled Chicken Platter is an excellent choice for refueling after a workout, as it provides an ample serving of protein along with complex carbohydrates and fiber:

Serving size: 1 Platter

  • Calories: 600
  • Fat: 15g
  • Net Carbs: 60g 
  • Total Carbs: 65g
  • Fiber: 5g
  • Protein: 45g

Featuring 6-8 oz of tender, perfectly seasoned grilled chicken, rice, and beans, Spicy Taco's Grilled Chicken Platter is both satisfying and nutritious. 

Plus, the laid-back atmosphere makes it a great spot to catch up with friends after a group workout session.


Isabel's top post-workout meal pick is the New York G from Penumbra, a trendy restaurant with a modern, industrial-chic atmosphere. 

Penumbra's New York G features a beautifully cooked New York strip steak, accompanied by sautéed vegetables and a choice of a side dish, such as sweet potato fries or a fresh garden salad. 

This dish provides a well-balanced and nutritious meal for post-workout recovery:

Serving size: 1 Platter

  • Calories: 750
  • Fat: 35g
  • Net Carbs: 40g (45g total carbs - 5g fiber)
  • Total Carbs: 45g
  • Fiber: 5g
  • Protein: 60g

The New York G offers a substantial amount of protein from the strip steak to support muscle growth and repair. 

The sautéed vegetables and side options provide essential vitamins, minerals, and additional nutrients to round out a satisfying and nourishing meal. 

Penumbra's attentive service, creative menu offerings, and stylish ambiance make it an excellent choice for a post-workout meal, whether you're dining solo or with friends.

Bonus Picks:

Lou enjoys the lattes and pastries at Chaquilatte, a quaint, locally-owned cafe with a welcoming atmosphere.

For those looking to indulge in some post-workout carbs, their freshly-baked pastries hit the spot, while their lattes offer a delicious and comforting pick-me-up.

Megan recommends Fittingly Delicious, a meal prep service that offers healthy, customizable meals for those with busy lifestyles. 

Their nutrient-dense, well-balanced meals cater to a variety of dietary preferences, ensuring that your post-workout nutrition is on point, even when you're short on time.

**Just a heads up, the nutritional information provided in this article is based on estimations, and actual values may vary. 

It's always a good idea to check the restaurants' updated menus or reach out to them directly for the most accurate and up-to-date nutritional information. 


From the super cool vibes at Fruit Paradise to the awesome Pot Pie at Chiya Chai, our top 10 picks show just how committed Chi-town is to keep you fueled up with delicious and nutritious meals after you've been pumping iron or hitting the pavement.

So whether you're craving a quick protein hit or looking to sit down to a well-rounded meal, you can bet there's a spot in Chicago that'll hit the spot. 

Go ahead, dive into the city's healthy food scene, and treat yourself to something amazing after your next sweat session. You've earned it!

By Rahul Malpe

Rahul is a dedicated nutritionist and personal trainer with expertise in the science of nutrition and its impact on the body. Certified by the International Sports Sciences Association (ISSA) and the American Council of Exercise (ACE), he is committed to educating individuals through sharing science-based information on making smart food choices. By writing informative articles, Rahul aims to empower people with the knowledge they need to make informed decisions about their health and wellness journeys.