- 20 Trainers Reveal What They Eat After a Workout
- Tuna Nicoise Salad
- Scrambled Eggs and Avocado with Almond Butter Toast
- Lean Protein, Carbs, and Green Leaves
- Fruit and Whey Protein
- The 2:1 Carb to Protein Ratio
- Protein Powder
- Green Juice
- Whole Food Meals
- The Big Three
- Protein and Carbs
- Acai Bowl
- Peanut Butter Shake
- Green Smoothie
- Protein Bars
- Tuna and Quinoa
- Protein Powder + Banana + Coconut Water
- An Energizing Mix
- A Terrific Trio
- Protein in Bar or Shake Form
- Peanuts Can Fuel Your Fitness, Sports & Fitness Nutrition Expert says
Peanut Butter: A Super Sports Food
- Why Peanut Butter
- 1. Peanut Butter Is Satiating And Satisfying, Perfect For Dieters
- 2. Peanut Butter Is A Quick And Easy Way To Reduce Your Risk Of Heart Disease
- 3. Peanut Butter Is An Affordable Source Of Calories
- 4. Peanut Butter Is A Source Of Protein, Needed To Build And Repair Muscles
- 5. Peanut Butter Is A Reasonable Source Of Vitamins, Minerals And Other Health-Protective Food Compounds
- 6. Peanut Butter Contains Fiber—Not A Lot (1 gram per tablespoon) But Some
- 7. Peanuts Contain Mostly Health-Protective Mono- And Polyunsaturated Fats
- 8. Caution: Peanut Butter Is A Poor Source Of The Carbohydrates Needed For Muscle Fuel
- 1. Black Bean Omelette
- 2. Almond Butter & Jam Sandwich
- 3. Pita & Hummus
- 4. Chicken Hash
- 5. Quinoa
- 6. Spinach-based Salad
- 7. Wild Salmon
- 8. Broccoli
- 9. Brown Rice
- 10. Cottage Cheese
- 11. Lentils & Chickpeas
- 12. Papaya
- 13. Apples & Cheese
- 14. Tuna Salad & Crackers
- 15. Roast Beef & Squash
- 16. Oatmeal
- 17. Milk & Cereal
- 18. Banana & Peanut Butter Sandwich
- 19. Fruit Smoothies/Shakes
- 20. Protein Bar
- Wrapping Up
- Why Peanut Butter
What Is A Proper Pre, During, And Post Workout Nutrition Diet?
- How Important Is It to Have a Pre-Workout Meal?
- What to Eat Before A Workout
- How Much Time Should There Be Between Your Pre-Workout Meal and Your Workout?
- What Foods Should You Eat While Working Out?
- What to Drink During Your Workout
- The Importance of Post-Workout Nutrition
- What to Eat or Drink Immediately After Exercise
- What Should Go in A Post-Workout Protein Shake
- When to Eat Your Post-Workout Meal
- Simple Vs. Complex Carbs Post-Workout
- 10 High-Protein Foods You Should Eat After Your Workout
- 1. Greek yogurt
- 2. Whey protein powder
- 3. Eggs
- 4. Chocolate milk
- 5. Kefir
- 6. Quinoa
- 7. Navy beans
- 8. Canned tuna
- 9. Trail mix
- 10. Cottage cheese
- 7 Simple Foods That Provide Protein After a Workout
- 1. Greek Yogurt Parfait
- 2. Rice and Beans (Vegetarian Source)
- 3. Egg White + Deli Sandwich
- 4. String Cheese + Fruit
- 5. Tuna + Salsa + Rice
- 6. Cereal + Milk
- 7. Baked Potato + Lean Protein Source
- How to make your 3 best DIY post-workout drinks
- For muscle growth
- For weight loss
- For energy
20 Trainers Reveal What They Eat After a Workout
Sorry, breakfast. When someone is in the throes of a workout regime, the most important meal of the day is that very first one after you exercise, regardless of the time of day. It’s the fuel your body needs to regain energy and build lean muscle mass—and the right combo of carbs and protein are essential. And it’s all too easy to simply picture grilled chicken, and…um…
That’s why we asked top trainers to reveal what they feed their own sculpted bodies after a tough workout. Whether it’s strength training, barre work, indoor cycling or intense cardio, the right bites are a key part of making the most of your efforts. Use the pros’ tips to discover the perfect snacks to throw in your gym bag or exactly what you should have on your plate when you sit down for that important post-workout meal. Variety is always key, and these 20 trainers have a wide range of suggestions so you can mix it up until you find the combos that are most pleasing to you—and deliver the results you’re aiming for! Can’t hit the gym today? Don’t miss these 31 Sneaky Ways to Work Out—Without Stepping Foot in the Gym.
Tuna Nicoise Salad
Yoga Instructor Karly Treacy is all about carb loading after you’ve done your part at the gym. “Your metabolism is fired up and your body has spent its glycogen. Adding carbohydrates to your post-workout meal will not boost or diminish any muscle synthesis but it will replenish your glycogen stores,” she says. “Glycogen plays a role in maintaining blood sugar levels and is the number one food for the brain, so make sure you nourish your body with both a protein and a carbohydrate after a workout!”
Treacy’s go-to choices are a protein shake with banana, raw cacao, maca, cinnamon, almond butter, and a scoop of protein powder.
Alternatively, Treacy goes for a Nicoise salad with the potatoes. “Both of these options are a perfect balance of protein and carbohydrates so that you maximize your body’s recovery, but do not take away from the muscle building or fat burning goals you may have!”
Scrambled Eggs and Avocado with Almond Butter Toast
Kate Osman, Optimum Nutrition athlete and NPC Bikini Competitor, varies her protein and carb-packed post-workout food depending on what time of day she works out. In the morning, she whips up protein-packed scrambled eggs with avocado and serves it alongslide a slice of Ezekiel bread with a light spread of natural almond butter. “Eggs are a great source of protein and the avocado will give you some of the good fats that your body is craving, and Ezekiel bread will help you fuel up for the day,” Osman explains.
In the evening, Osman goes for grilled chicken and steamed vegetables or salmon with sweet potato slices. “This will fill you up without making you feel bloated after your workout,” she says. Speaking of bloat, do you need to de-puff ASAP? Then check out these ways to debloat in 36 hours!
Lean Protein, Carbs, and Green Leaves
Although she’s not against a protein shake if you’re short on time, Barry’s Bootcamp Trainer Ingrid Clay says eating—not drinking—protein is her preference. Clay’s post-workout meal includes three-and-a-half to five ounces of lean protein, half cup of complex carbohydrates like brown rice, quinoa, sweet potatoes or Jasmine rice, and then a green leaf veggie (to replace minerals and vitamin depletion). Finally, she likes to include one to two teaspoons of coconut oil because of its healthy fat status.
Fruit and Whey Protein
Meanwhile, even the healthy fats get a little bit of a snub from Blaire Massaroni, a personal trainer at Crunch Union Square in New York City. Instead, this fit pro eats a small piece of fruit followed by 30 grams of whey protein. Then, she eats another meal no more than two hours later that has the most protein and carbs—and the least amount of fat—for the day. This usually consists of pulled chicken breast, green beans, and a baked sweet oriental yam. “The one macro to avoid post workout is fat for about two to three hours,” Massaroni says. “It slows the absorption of protein when your body needs it most, and the introduction of fat along with a blood sugar spike can lead to fat storage and inhibit muscle repair and growth.” Confused about fat or no fat? Read up on the 20 Healthy Fats to Make You Thin so you know what’s what!
Ideally, a person should consume the same amount of water that was lost in sweat during the workout. “This is hard to measure, so use your thirst as a guide to how much water intake you need after a workout,” says Jessica Diaz, barre instructor and certified personal trainer. “I recommend aiming to drink half your body weight in ounces per water, per day. If you are intensely working out, try to add in at minimum an additional sixteen ounces of water for every half-hour workout.”
The 2:1 Carb to Protein Ratio
Fitness expert Jeff Grant goes for either a protein shake (two scoops whey isolate, one cup almond milk, one tablespoon peanut butter, half a banana, and ice cubes all blended together) with one cinnamon raisin Ezekiel English muffin with the other banana half. Or he’ll go for a flank steak, large sweet potato, and salad. “I will always have carbs post-workout because it’s the protein and carbs that rebuild your muscles. Studies show that you should have a 2:1 carb to protein ratio post-workout. I honestly usually keep it even at 40-60 grams of each. It is also very important to get that meal in within 30 minutes of completing your workout for the best results,” Grant explains.
Mark Langowski, celeb trainer and founder of Body By Mark Wellness, has at least 15 Favorite Foods for Flat Abs, but one of them is protein powder for sure. “I choose vegan protein powder, but one option that is great for getting your muscles to recover quickly is whey protein. Casein is also good for bedtime cravings as it will slowly digest while you sleep, steadily fueling your muscles.”
CrossFit trainer Dave Colina goes for veggies—but says he finds it easier to drink them down. “After a workout, I have a green smoothie composed of kale, spinach, carrots, tomato, blueberries, banana, and almond milk,” he says. “I’ll always add a grass-fed whey protein supplement to build muscle and some creatine monohydrate to maintain an elevated level of creatine stores.”
Whole Food Meals
Michelle Roots, a trainer affiliated with the Trainerize app, says she’s not always hungry after a workout—but will always have a protein shake of just protein powder and water immediately after an intense weight training or interval training session. “Then, I have a whole food meal within one to two hours post-workout consisting of both carbs and protein to refuel my body; otherwise, I will find myself feeling tired within a few hours,’ she explains. Roots prefers things like grilled chicken wraps, salmon with broccoli and brown rice, hard boiled eggs and fruit, or oatmeal with egg whites cooked in and a side of berries. It all sounds good to us!
The Big Three
Eric the Trainer, a Hollywood physique expert, says that after working out, he reaches for the big three: an animal-based protein, a water-based carbohydrate, and a healthy fat. “This trio provides all the muscle building, energy, and nutrients that make up a healthy, balanced diet,” he says. Examples of his tri-fold pattern: low-fat cheese sticks + apple slices + raw almonds; sliced chicken breast + watermelon cubes + sliced avocado; or yogurt + blueberries + peanuts.
Protein and Carbs
Alanna Zabel, star of the Element: Beginner Level Yoga DVD grabs protein and carbs. “Protein shakes, in addition to blueberries, banana, or sweet potatoes, are my go to fuel post-workout,” she says. “I want the nutrients to digest quickly by consuming a liquid form of nutrition that contains rapidly digesting carbohydrates. The benefit of post-workout food is to replenish your energy stores, improve your immune system, build and rebuild your muscles, recover faster with less soreness and help the body to utilize body fat.”
Joseph Cintron, fitness instructor and personal trainer at Carillon Miami Beach, likes to keep it light. “Acai, coconut water, quinoa, lean fish or chicken, and a heap of broccoli or spinach are all great examples of a gpost-workoutkout meal!”
Peanut Butter Shake
“After my workout, I usually go for a peanut butter banana protein shake,” says NASM Certified Personal Trainer Dan Welden. “Protein is a necessary supplement for muscle growth and repair. The banana is high in potassium and can help prevent cramping.” Are you eating the wrong peanut butter, though? Eat This, Not That! ranked 36 of the most popular peanut butters; check our exclusive peanut butter ranking to see where your favorite falls!
“You want complete protein post any kind of gym workout to aid muscle growth and repair,” says personal trainer Lola Berry. “A green smoothie is a good idea, and you can add unsweetened protein powder to the mix. Try this mix: A handful of baby spinach, one frozen banana (peel it before you freeze it!), a handful of your favorite nuts, one scoop of protein powder, cinnamon, a little maple syrup to sweeten and two cups of almond milk. It’s green but tastes so good!”
Henry Halse, a Philadelphia-based personal trainer, is all about convenience after his workout. I’ll usually eat some type of protein or granola bar because they’re easy to carry around and relatively filling—I get hangry after workouts,” he says. “It’s important to eat after a workout because we need to refuel our bodies. We need to replace the energy that we lose during our workout which is why we need carbs and we need protein to help our muscles rebuild. The first priority after a workout is actually carbs because our muscles use so much during the workout. If we don’t have good carbs after a workout we might feel sluggish and have some brain fog.”
Tuna and Quinoa
GYMGUYZ founder and CEO Josh York says that a combination of quality carbs and protein are essential to an effective post-workout meal or snack. And he recommends experimenting until you find a combo you enjoy. “Your choices matter,” York says. “If you don’t like a particular combination of carbs, protein, and fat, chances are you won’t stick to having it.” It can be as easy as a can of tuna with low-fat mayo and half-cup of quinoa or something more involved like an open-faced egg sandwich on Ezekiel bread, topped with tomato slices and sprinkled with a pinch of ground flaxseed.
Protein Powder + Banana + Coconut Water
CrossFit Outbreak’s Adam Sturm goes for 25 grams of protein (whey, egg white, or plant based) and 10 to 15 grams of carbs to add in muscle repair and recovery. “Protein with branch chain amino acids, BCAA’s and a sugar-free coconut water is an easy recovery shake,” he recommends. “Banana is also easy digested and absorbed.”
An Energizing Mix
Brooke Taylor of Taylored Fitness NY has a very regimented post-workout meal she follows that actually affects what she eats throughout the day. “I typically work out in the early morning, and about one to two hours after, I have had a sustainable high-protein and veggie breakfast. Then, after an intense circuit training workout, I will replenish with a lean source of carbohydrates, vegetables/fruits and a 1/4 cup of grains. This enables me to refuel my body so that my body recovers properly after the workout so I can restore the energy levels for the next day,” Taylor explains. “I also typically have protein in every snack and every meal throughout the day to help keep me satiated. My rule of thumb is load up on the healthy sources of lean proteins and fresh vegetables accompanied by healthy fats. I look and feel my best with sustainable energy levels.” But she did tell us a little secret: If she’s really crunched on time, she’ll turn to a Chocolate Mint Zing bar.
A Terrific Trio
Stephanie Mansour, weight loss coach who works primarily with women, is another protein and protein bar fan. But she also loves rehydrating with coconut water. “You may need to replenish electrolytes after a long cardio workout or a hot outdoor workout in which you’re sweating a lot,” she says. “Whenever I’m sweating, I go for coconut water because there aren’t any artificial ingredients.”
Protein in Bar or Shake Form
Fitness coach Nadia Murdock says her go-to snack post workout is a protein shake or a bar. “I find both options to be extremely convenient. Protein helps to repair the muscles post workout, repairing muscles post workout is key to maintaining a healthy body. Quest has an excellent line of both protein shakes and bars,” Murdock says. And if she has more time, she keeps handy nut butters like peanut and almond to spread on half a banana. For plenty of smoothie and shake inspo, check out these best weight loss smoothies!
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Want to lose 10, 20, even 30 pounds—all without dieting?! Get your copy of Eat This, Not That: The Best (& Worst) Foods in America!, and learn how to indulge smarter and lose weight fast!
Peanuts Can Fuel Your Fitness, Sports & Fitness Nutrition Expert says
By Leslie J. Bonci , MPH,RD,CSSD, LDN
When you think crunch, what comes to mind? Time crunch, ab crunch or the satisfying crunch of food? We all want to do our best to be productive, fit and well-fed. So how do we find the right balance?
Keep it Simple.
As a dietitian who works with active people, I don’t want anyone to sacrifice a workout because they spend too much time meal-prepping, or miss out on good nutrition to make it to spin class. In order to have the best of both worlds, be prepared by having some easy, ready-to-go mini meals/snacks in your fridge and/or sports bag.
Personally, I am a big fan of peanuts and peanut butter. First, they are ready-to-eat foods that taste great alone or in combo with fruit, vegetables, grains, dairy foods and even meats. Second, they are portable which is great for those days when you’re in a time crunch. Third, they are nutrient-dense, meaning they pack a powerful nutrition punch in every bite. Protein, fiber, good fats, vitamins and minerals in a convenient, tasty package make peanuts a must on my list.
Timing is Everything.
Whether you hit the trails, the weights or the yoga mat, your muscles need fuel to optimize strength, speed, stamina and decrease the risk of injury. It is a balancing act to have enough fuel for basic body functions and for exercise. Even as an active individual, you may not need to add extra food to your day, but time your food appropriately by snacking pre- and post-workout.
Ideally, try to eat and hydrate about 60 minutes before exercise. However, for early morning workouts, you may need to shorten that time frame so you don’t compromise sleep. Post work-out fueling, either a snack or meal, and hydration should start within 15-30 minutes of completing a workout.
How Peanuts Fit
Muscles use carbohydrate and fat as the primary fuel sources for cardio exercise. Peanuts or peanut butter provide the fat and are deliciously combined with carbs like cereal for a tasty trail mix or bread for a delicious sandwich. And to get the most out of strength training workouts, it’s best to consume a little protein both before and after, so peanut butter on a banana or peanuts added to oatmeal can be great pre-lifting fuel.
The goal with pre-workout fuel is to have a small amount of food so your stomach doesn’t feel heavy when exercising. Post-workout fuel is also about quality, not quantity, so think more appetizer sized portion than entrée.
Here are some examples of pre and post workout/competition fueling by times of the day:
1 ounce of peanuts with 2 Tbsp. dried fruit like peanuts or cranberries
1 Tbsp. peanut butter on a slice of whole grain toast
Smoothie with 1 Tbsp peanut butter, ½ cup yogurt, ½ cup low-fat milk and a small banana
2 Tbsp peanut butter on a whole grain English muffin
¾ cup oatmeal with 2 Tbsp each of peanuts and dried blueberries
Trail mix of ½ cup dry cereal and 1 ounce of peanuts
1 Tbsp peanut butter and a small apple
Vegetable salad with 2 Tbsp peanuts
6-ounce Greek yogurt with 1 Tbsp peanut butter and 1/2 cup berries
½ of a peanut butter and jelly sandwich
½ ounce of peanuts with 2 cups of popcorn
2 Tbsp peanuts, 2 cups vegetables in a stir fry over 1 cup brown rice
Dessert of dark chocolate peanut butter with strawberries
By putting peanuts and peanut butter into your workout routine, you’ll have versatility, boost your ability to maximize time and optimize your workouts.
Leslie J. Bonci, MPH,RD,CSSD, LDN, is the owner of Active Eating Advice- be fit, fed, fearless- a nutrition consulting company. She is a nutrition consultant for both college and professional athletes.
Peanut Butter: A Super Sports Food
In this day and age of energy bars, protein powders and weight gain shakes, many athletes forget about “real” foods, such as peanut butter. Peanut butter, in my opinion, is one of the best sports foods around. It’s tasty, inexpensive, satisfying, nourishing—and even good for our health.
But all too often, I hear athletes say “I don’t keep peanut butter in my house. It’s too fatty, too fattening.” or “I ration peanut butter to once per week—on my Sunday morning bagel.” They try to stay away from peanut butter. That’s just nuts!
Yes, peanut butter is calorie-dense. But it can beneficially fit into your sports diet. The following information explains why I vote peanut butter (and all nuts and nut butters, for that matter) to be a super sports food for athletes who want to eat well and invest in their health.
Why Peanut Butter
1. Peanut Butter Is Satiating And Satisfying, Perfect For Dieters
Because you will never win the war against hunger, your best bet is to eat foods that keep you feeling fed. This means, foods with protein and fiber—like peanut butter (and nuts, in general).
You’ll feel fuller for longer if you have half a whole wheat bagel with peanut butter, as compared to the same amount of calories of a plain white bagel. The protein and fiber in peanut butter “sticks to your ribs” and is not fattening…unless you overeat total calories that day.
A Perdue University study reports subjects who ate peanuts every day did not overeat daily calories. (Kirkmeyer, Int’l J Obesity 24:1167, 2000) Peanut eaters tend to naturally eat less at other times of the day. (Alper, Int’l J Obesity 26:1129, 2002)
Plus, if you enjoy what you are eating on your reducing diet, you’ll stay with the food plan and be able to keep the weight off. This is far better than yo-yo dieting!
2. Peanut Butter Is A Quick And Easy Way To Reduce Your Risk Of Heart Disease
Just slap together a peanut butter (and honey or jelly) sandwich on multi-grain bread, and you have the makings of a heart-healthy meal, if not a childhood memory.
A quick and easy peanut butter sandwich is healthier, by far, than a fast food burger or fried chicken dinner and far better than, let’s say, an equally easy “meal” of chips or ice cream. That’s because peanut butter offers health-protective mono- and polyunsaturated oil.
Trading burgers (saturated fat) for peanut butter sandwiches reduces your risk of developing heart disease. In fact, the more often you eat peanut butter (and nuts), the lower your risk of heart disease. (Hu, J Am College Nutr 20(1):5, 2001)
Start spreading peanut butter (instead of butter) on toast. Enjoy PB & banana for a “decadent” snack in place of ice cream.
3. Peanut Butter Is An Affordable Source Of Calories
If you are a hungry athlete who needs 3,000 or more calories a day, you can spend a significant amount of money fueling yourself (especially if you routinely eat protein bars, weight gain shakes and other engineered sports foods). Peanut butter can fuel your body without breaking the bank.
The cost of 200 calories of peanut butter is about $0.15, far less than the $1.49 you’d spend on 200 calories of an energy bar…and generally, the peanut butter is far tastier!
4. Peanut Butter Is A Source Of Protein, Needed To Build And Repair Muscles
NOTE: Peanut butter is not protein-dense.
That is, two tablespoons of peanut butter, the amount in an average sandwich, provides about 7 grams of protein. In comparison, the calorie equivalent of turkey in a sandwich offers about 20 grams of protein.
Athletes who weigh 140 pounds may need 70 to 100 grams protein per day; 200-pound athletes, 100 to 150 grams. For 100 grams of protein, you’d have to eat the whole jar of peanut butter! Unlikely!
To boost the protein value of peanut butter, simply accompany it with a tall glass of milk: a PB & J sandwich + 16 ounces lowfat milk = 28 grams of protein, a good chunk of your daily requirement.
Milk simultaneously enhances the value of the protein in the peanut butter sandwich. That is, peanuts are low in some of the essential amino acids muscles need for growth and repair. The amino acids in milk (as well as those in the sandwich bread) nicely complement the limiting amino acids in peanuts.
There is a nice variety of notable vitamins and minerals in peanut butter. For example, peanut butter contains folate, vitamin E, magnesium and resveratrol, all nutrients associated with reduced risk of heart disease. Magnesium is also associated with reduced risk of adult-onset diabetes.
Peanut butter offers a small amount of zinc, a mineral important for healing and strengthening the immune system. As an athlete, you need all these nutrients to keep you off the bench and on the playing field.
6. Peanut Butter Contains Fiber—Not A Lot (1 gram per tablespoon) But Some
Fiber in food contributes to a feeling of fullness that can help dieters eat less without feeling hungry. Fiber also promotes regular bowel movements and helps reduce problems with constipation. By enjoying peanut butter on whole grain bread, you can contribute 6 to 8 grams of fiber towards the recommended target of 20 to 35 grams fiber per day.
7. Peanuts Contain Mostly Health-Protective Mono- And Polyunsaturated Fats
When peanuts are made into commercial peanut butter (such as Skippy or Jif), some of the oil gets converted into a harder, saturated fat. This keeps the oil from separating to the top. The hardened oil, called trans-fat, is less healthful.
However, the good news is, commercial peanut butters contain only a tiny amount of trans fats and just a small amount of (naturally occurring) saturated fat.
For example, only 3.5 of the 17 grams fat in two tablespoons of Skippy are “bad.”
To minimize your intake of even this small amount of unhealthful fat, you can buy all-natural peanut butter. If you dislike the way the oil in this type of peanut butter separates to the top of the jar, simply store the jar upside down.
That way, the oil rises to what becomes the bottom of the jar when you turn it over to open it. And if you eat peanut butter daily, you won’t have to refrigerate it, thereby making the all-natural peanut butter easier to spread.
8. Caution: Peanut Butter Is A Poor Source Of The Carbohydrates Needed For Muscle Fuel
Don’t try to subsist on peanut butter by the spoonful! Luckily, peanut butter combines nicely with banana, bread, apples, oatmeal, crackers, raisins, and even pasta (as in Thai noodle dishes). These combinations will balance your sports diet.
Eating the right foods immediately after your workout is the key to really making the most out of your workout. You need the right mix of carbohydrates, nutrients and protein to help you recover quickly, burn away fat and build muscle. That’s why supplements have become so popular. Luckily there are many delicious meals that can help you optimize your recovery and muscle growth.
Try out one of these meals after your next workout:
Related: Top CrossFit Supplements For Performance & Recovery
1. Black Bean Omelette
If you’ve really worked up an appetite this is the perfect meal for you: 4 egg whites, 1 ounce of low-fat cheese and a ¼ cup of black beans make the ultimate omelet for muscle building. The beans provide extra protein as well as a range of healthy minerals to help your body recover quickly.
2. Almond Butter & Jam Sandwich
We all know peanut butter contains loads of helpful protein, but did you know that almond butter is actually much better for you? Almonds have a much higher calcium content than peanuts and are also richer in several other nutrients. To make this meal, extra healthy try using rice cakes instead of bread.
3. Pita & Hummus
Hummus has been described to me as the protein of champions and there’s a good reason for this. Two scoops of hummus loaded onto a single pita will give you the perfect combination of carbs and protein. Make sure you stick to chickpea-based hummus for the best health effects; red pepper and other dips don’t contain the same amount of protein.
4. Chicken Hash
Are you a meat lover? Try roasting one cup of diced chicken with ½ cup butternut squash and apples in a mixture of olive oil, salt and pepper. The chicken gives you all the lean protein you need to build stronger muscles while the squash and apples provide the nutrients to help you recover quickly. Feel free to add other spices as well.
This often overlooked food contains an impressive 14 grams of protein per 100 grams and a wide range of amino acids and nutrients. It has very little flavour of its own and can be added to salad or any number of foods.
6. Spinach-based Salad
Studies have shown that spinach has much more protein than most forms of lettuce and may be able to increase your muscle growth by up to 20%. Make sure you use an oil based dressing as cream based dressings have a massive calorie count.
7. Wild Salmon
Salmon has a high concentration of omega fatty acids as well as protein while still being quite light in calorie content. Stick with the wild kind and you’ll get an impressive nutritional boost—not to mention significantly better flavor.
In case you haven’t figured it out yet, you don’t actually need to eat meat to get the right amount of protein. There’s actually an impressively high level of protein in broccoli. Oh, and vitamin A, E, B6, B1 and a huge range of minerals. Eat it raw and dipped in hummus or lightly steamed—every minute you cook your broccoli it is losing nutrients!
9. Brown Rice
Any rice is good for you but brown rice is by far the best. Throw in some beans to get a nice protein boost. Be careful with soy sauce as it contains high levels of salt.
10. Cottage Cheese
It’s a bit of an acquired taste but every cup of cottage cheese contains a whopping 28 grams of protein, not to mention high levels of calcium and healthy bacteria that keeps your digestion moving. Eating it by itself is best but you can also spread a small amount over brown toast.
11. Lentils & Chickpeas
The combination of simple carbs and protein found in lentils and chickpeas make them some of the healthiest foods around while their minimal flavor makes them some of the most versatile. You can do just about anything with lentils and chickpeas, so get experimental—just avoid heavy sauces that are high in salt or sugar.
Papaya is a great post-workout snack because it contains papain, a substance which helps your body break down protein for use. Combine it with a protein heavy snack from this list to maximize your results.
13. Apples & Cheese
Slice up an apple and some of your favorite cheese and you have a fantastic muscle building combination. Apples contain a high portent of vitamin C as well as fiber that helps you digest the protein and calcium in your cheese.
14. Tuna Salad & Crackers
Mix up some simple tuna salad with onions, grated carrots and a little bit of light mayonnaise and spread it over some whole wheat crackers for a delicious protein heavy snack that will help boost your muscle growth in a big way.
15. Roast Beef & Squash
Many health nuts will tell you to stay away from beef altogether but it is possible to get lean beef that is actually really good for you. Stick with a thin slice and combine it with some butternut squash to cover a complete range of nutrients.
Whole grains are among the healthiest foods out there and oats are the healthiest grain of them all. Make sure you’re always starting from raw oats rather than instant packages as many of these packages contain ridiculous amounts of sugar. Add some fruit or honey for flavor.
17. Milk & Cereal
Not all cereals are created equal but there are several high-quality whole wheat options to choose from and some even contain almonds or berries for an extra nutritional punch. Make sure you drink the milk once you’re done the cereal to get every ounce of calcium you can.
18. Banana & Peanut Butter Sandwich
Bananas contain large amounts of vitamin B6, vitamin C, and potassium. Peanut butter gives you the protein and the whole wheat toast(or a rice cake for even more nutritional power) gives you a host of vitamins and minerals to help you recover and start building muscle more quickly.
19. Fruit Smoothies/Shakes
These might taste like dessert but they can pack an impressive nutritional punch if you make sure to use the right ingredients. Try to always make sure you have a banana in there so you can maximize the healthy minerals entering your system.
20. Protein Bar
Protein bars have a bad reputation among many serious bodybuilders but the good ones are an excellent option if you’re really short on time. Make sure you always go for a bar with 10-30 grams of protein and less than 10 grams of sugar. If you’re not careful you can end up eating a protein bar that’s more like a dessert.
Eating to optimize muscle growth doesn’t mean you have to eat boring foods. Mix and match from this list, explore different ways to cook these foods, and experiment with different kinds of shakes to keep things interesting.
See Also: Best Post Workout Supplements
What Is A Proper Pre, During, And Post Workout Nutrition Diet?
Let’s talk about eating. Nutrition is just as important as lifting for improving fitness, looking good, and gaining strength. When the two go hand-in-hand, amazing things are possible.
You already know if you eat too few calories you’ll starve your muscless—and feel awful. If you eat too many you’ll gain extra body fat. But the story doesn’t end there. Although how many calories you eat in a day is important, your ideal nutritional plan for maximizing gains is also about what types of food you eat, as well as meal timing.
How Important Is It to Have a Pre-Workout Meal?
Nutrition is perhaps the most important factor in the fitness lifestyle. The right vitamins, minerals, macronutrients, calorie levels, and meal timing are needed for the body to function at its very best. Quality nutrition fuels our bodies for maximum performance.
What you eat before a workout determines whether or not you will have the energy to achieve your greatest potential during each session. It can make a big effect in getting a extra couple reps, or increasing the amount of weight during your lifts.
Pre-workout nutrition is very underrated. Plenty of lifters see the importance of the post-workout meal, getting in the fast-digesting protein and carbs, when in fact the pre-workout meal is just as important—and for many of us, completely nonexistent.
Eating before training fuels your body for ideal performance. Failing to eat before you work out means you are missing a huge opportunity to keep your body in an anabolic (muscle-building) state.
By paying special attention to nutrition before you train, you can also maximize how much of your food is used to build lean mass, and minimize how much of it becomes body fat.
What to Eat Before A Workout
Eating the right foods before a workout makes all the difference. The idea of pre-workout nutrition is to give your body what it needs to perform at maximum intensity, and prepare your muscles for growth.
A pre-workout meal should increase glycogen levels in the body and help prevent catabolism.
Protein is made up of individual amino acids. These are the building blocks of muscle, help prevent catabolism, and fight off hunger cravings. Calories from carbohydrates affect your blood-sugar levels, giving you a quick burst of energy if they are simple and quick-digesting, and lasting energy if they are more complex. Fats help maintain optimal hormone levels and provide slow-burning fuel for longer sessions.
Your pre-workout fuel should be composed of medium- to fast-digesting proteins and slower-digesting carbs.
Pre-Workout Meals to Burn Fat and Build Muscle:
- Egg Whites and Whole Grain Bread: Egg whites are quick-digesting, and whole grain bread is a quick and convenient medium-digesting carb.
- Low-Fat Milk and Oatmeal: Oatmeal is a good pre-workout meal, especially when you add protein. Milk contains whey, which is an ideal pre-workout protein, and the slow-digesting oats keep you feeling full and focused as you pump out those reps!
- Chicken and Yams: A bodybuilder classic, chicken and yams are the perfect pre-workout combo. You can also eat them post-workout to cut down on meal prep!
- Tuna and Brown Rice: Any light, low-fat fish will do, but nothing beats tuna for convenience, and the brown rice adds flavor and fuel for your lifts.
- Ground Turkey and Black Beans: Add a bit of seasoning to the ground turkey and a couple of corn tortillas, and you have a low-fat, high-energy, pre-workout snack you can eat on the go.
Since fat delays food leaving the stomach, known as “gastric emptying” it can slow down your body’s uptake of nutrients and should be avoided pre- and post-workout. The only exception would be if you plan on working out intensely for longer than 90 minutes, in which case your body could use that fat calories as fuel.
How Much Time Should There Be Between Your Pre-Workout Meal and Your Workout?
Pre-workout meal timing is an important piece of the picture. For most people, the perfect time for a pre-workout snack or meal is 1-2 hours before training. This depends on your metabolism, how big the meal is, and perhaps what type of exercise you’re doing.
The fuel you ingest before training will only be available in your bloodstream for a few hours, so you don’t want to wait too long—like 4-5 hours—before working out or you’ll lose those pre-workout nutrients. However, you also don’t want to cram down a huge, veggie-packed meal right before Tabata cycle sprints.
Eating an hour or two before you work out provides the perfect opportunity to feed your muscles strategically while you work out. During resistance exercise, your muscles will fill or “pump up” with blood and become extremely sensitive to the nutrients you’ve consumed.
This is why pre-workout nutrition is so important. What you ingest can go straight to the areas being trained.
What Foods Should You Eat While Working Out?
Eating mid-workout doesn’t make much sense, not only because it’s inconvenient, but also because your body would expend energy digesting food when it should be focused on the workout.
That said, you definitely burn fuel during intense training. During a heavy training session your body uses up plenty of carbs, which are broken down into glycogen. That’s the fuel your muscles need for exercise, and without it performance suffers.
You also need amino acids, which is why your body breaks down any available protein when you lift. Topping up your stores while training helps spare glycogen, and decreases catabolism by providing a steady source of amino acids.
A proper pre-workout nutrition plan can take care of all of this. By timing the pre-workout meal appropriately, you should already have these essential macronutrients for growth entering your bloodstream when you walk into the gym, ready to feed those hungry muscles. If this is the case, then all you need during your session is water.
What to Drink During Your Workout
If you know you’ll be training longer than an hour and a half, it might make sense to drink something during your workout to keep your energy levels up and maintain steady blood-sugar levels.
When you exercise for long periods of time, your body can enter a catabolic state and end up breaking down the muscle tissue you’re trying to build. Sipping a protein shake during your workout helps counteract this protein breakdown, because it provides the body with exactly what it needs. During long training sessions, consuming a shake can be anti-catabolic.
When you exercise, blood rushes into your muscles and they become more receptive to nutrients.
This is why BCAAs are a popular intra-workout drink. They immediately provide you with essential amino acids and energy, and do not require any digesting. Remember, the last thing you want is to unnecessarily divert blood to your digestive tract! They also usually have low or no calories.
While it is not necessary to eat during a workout if your pre-workout strategy is in check, there’s nothing wrong with consuming a shake or amino acids during your session, provided your stomach can handle it and the amount you consume does not require a lot of digesting. This is especially true if you prefer longer, more intense training sessions.
While it is not necessary to eat during a workout if your pre-workout strategy is in check, there’s nothing wrong with consuming a shake or amino acids during your workout, provided your stomach can handle it and the amount you consume does not require a lot of digesting. This is especially true if you prefer longer, more intense workouts.
The Importance of Post-Workout Nutrition
If you are serious about lifting and you want the best results, proper post-workout nutrition is essential. Refueling your body after a workout is one of the most important parts of building muscle and recovering.
If you don’t eat the right foods after training, or you don’t eat them at the right time, your performance the next time will suffer, your gains will not be as good as they could be, and you could end up losing mass along the way. Plus, you’re setting yourself up for extra soreness—not fun.
The most important reason to eat something after you work out is to elicit an insulin response. Insulin is a highly anabolic hormone, and spiking it halts protein breakdown and helps encourage protein synthesis.
Skipping this meal means you will miss out on these anabolic effects. You will only encourage further protein breakdown, which over time leads to a loss of mass.
To put it simply: Eating after you work out helps builds muscle and end protein breakdown for better recovery.
What to Eat or Drink Immediately After Exercise
After an intense training session, your glycogen stores are depleted. Refilling them halts protein breakdown and increases protein synthesis.
As opposed to pre-workout nutrition, where complex carbohydrates are preferred, your carbs here should be simple and easy to digest in order to illicit an insulin response to build muscle, stave off soreness, and recover more quickly.
The best choices for immediately after the gym are fast-digesting proteins and faster-digesting, moderate-to-high-glycemic carbs.
Fats should be largely avoided here, as they were during the pre-workout meal. They slow down the digestive process, and this is the one time you don’t want to slow the flow of nutrients into your body.
What Should Go in A Post-Workout Protein Shake
The goal of here is to replenish glycogen levels and give your body what it needs to recover. Carbohydrates alone can accomplish the first goal, but the response is greater when you consume carbs and protein together.
This is why a recovery protein shake is used almost universally by serious gym goers. Liquid nutrients are the most readily digestible form—exactly what you are looking for immediately after you lift. If you are serious about your gains, an after-workout shake is a no-brainer.
No, it doesn’t have to be right after you finish in the so-called “anabolic window,” but it doesn’t hurt to have it right after a workout. Why? The sooner you get that shake down, the sooner it can do its work, and the sooner you can eat again.
Whey is perhaps the best after-training protein because it is the quickest and most readily digestible protein available. Many companies have specific “gainer” protein blends with the ideal ratio of carbs and protein. A good ratio is 2:1 carbs-to-protein when gaining weight, and 1:1 or lower when cutting fat.
If you don’t want to have a pantry full of protein powders, you could always add simple carbs such as dextrose to your protein shake to increase the carb to protein ratio and promote a stronger insulin response. But it’s easy to go overboard on the carbs, so adding dextrose to your shake is usually not necessary unless you have some serious bulking to do. You can also just eat a banana with a whey protein shake.
In most cases, it’s fine to mix your whey protein with water, since the fat in milk can delay absorption of nutrients in the stomach. If you subscribe to the “gallon of milk a day” bulking method, try to plan your dairy consumption so it won’t interfere with absorption around your training sessions.
And this isn’t the time for your almond butter, chocolate, and chia smoothie. All that fat and fiber will just make the protein and carbs take longer to get where they’re needed.
When to Eat Your Post-Workout Meal
Time your post-workout meal for no longer than 1-2 hours after you work out. If you consumed a shake during your workout, skip the shake immediately afterward and eat a meal about 30-45 minutes after that last sip of your intra-workout shake.
Your post-workout meal should include veggies and other whole foods, and not be just another protein shake. Your body needs fiber and vitamins from real foods!
Once again, pay attention to protein, fat, and carbohydrate content as this will have an effect on how your body recovers and rebuilds tissue. Since you’ve already consumed the nutrients your body needs quickly with your shake, you can include a little bit of fat in this meal.
Examples of Post-Workout Meals
- Pork Loin and Baked Red Potatoes: “The other white meat” gives you a blast of protein, and the starchy potatoes are a source of fast-digesting carbs.
- Chicken Breast and Pasta: Toss with tomato sauce or season with herbs to add more flavor to this simple meal. Adding a little olive oil isn’t a bad idea, either.
- Salmon, Carrots, and Green Beans: Salmon is a natural source of healthy omega-3 fatty acids that fight exercise-related soreness. Veggies like carrots and green beans are low-calorie and high in vitamins for optimum gains.
- Lean Beef Patty, Whole-Wheat Bun, and Sliced Avocado: Lean beef is an iron-rich protein source, the whole-wheat bun is a healthy source of carbs, and the natural healthy fats of the avocado also add delicious flavor!
- Smoothie with Greek Yogurt and Fruit: A great breakfast if you train early in the morning, the whey and casein combo of the yogurt helps support protein synthesis, and the sugar in the fruit helps raise insulin.
Simple Vs. Complex Carbs Post-Workout
After your training session, you can either create another insulin spike with fast-digesting, simple carbohydrates, or use complex, slow-burning carbs to stabilize blood sugar and prevent unwanted fat gain.
Insulin is anti-catabolic when raised right after exercise, and anabolic when raised at rest. Put simply, an insulin spike stops protein breakdown right after working out, and you can encourage anabolism by creating another spike with your post-workout meal.
Of course, you have to work out for insulin to help you build muscle. You can’t just slam a shake and sit on the couch expecting massive gains.
Your other option would be to include complex carbs like oatmeal, rather than simple carbs like candy. Insulin is as much a fat-storing hormone as it is an anabolic hormone, so if you want to avoid gaining extra body fat while you build mass, it makes sense to keep your blood-sugar levels stable after you train and not spike them a second time.
Many people claim they experience “leaner gains” when they switch to slow-burning complex carbohydrates.
The arguments for fast-burning, simple carbs versus slow-burning, complex carbs both have merit, so ultimately it depends on your goals, and what you feel your body best responds to.
For more information on which carbohydrates may be right for you, check out “Post-Workout Carbs: Best Choices to Grow and Recover.”
10 High-Protein Foods You Should Eat After Your Workout
Eating after you exercise is almost as crucial as the workout itself. WebMD notes eating protein after exercising helps your muscles recover and grow and ensures all of the hard work you just put in doesn’t go to waste. This doesn’t mean you need to go home and make a large meal containing hundreds of grams of protein, though — the publication explains eating 10 to 20 grams of protein will suffice. Wondering which foods you should be reaching for after your next sweat session? Here are 10 high-protein foods perfect for your post-workout snack.
1. Greek yogurt
Try eating high-protein foods like Greek yogurt after your workout. | iStock.com
Yogurt is a great food to eat after workouts, just as long as it’s Greek. Men’s Fitness states Greek yogurt has twice as much protein as regular yogurt. “Mix it with cereal or fruit,” Dr. Louise Burke, head of Sports Nutrition at the Australian Institute of Sport, recommended in the story. You’ll then have a snack that’s the perfect balance of protein and carbs. We recommend pairing your yogurt with berries; they’ll help fight muscle soreness.
According to SFGate, fat-free Greek yogurt contains between 17 and 20 grams of protein for a 6- to 7-ounce serving. A study published in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition determines you only need 20 grams of protein to promote muscle synthesis, which helps the body grow and repair its muscles.
2. Whey protein powder
Whey protein powder makes the perfect post-workout snack. | iStock.com
Intense-Workout.com states whey protein powder is the best source of protein to eat after a workout. Your body can digest a whey protein shake much faster than solid foods, ensuring you get a nice dose of protein promptly after your sweat session. It’s also a great portable post-workout snack; simply have your protein ready to go in a shaker cup and add liquid to it when you’re ready to start sipping. You’ll get more than enough protein per serving, as some powders contain up to 80 grams of protein, per WebMD.
Looking to give your whey protein a tasty flavor boost? Body Fortress has plenty of great shake recipes.
Eggs are high in protein. | iStock.com
Eggs are the perfect post-workout food for two reasons: They’re high in protein and are also a great source of many other nutrients, which help your body repair after an intense gym session. According to Livestrong, one egg has 6 grams of protein, or 15% of your daily recommended value. Furthermore, eggs contain all of the essential amino acids your body needs to digest and absorb protein.
Steady Strength recommends having hard-boiled eggs on hand for your post-workout snack. Consider pairing your eggs with a piece of fresh fruit; its carbs will replenish your glycogen stores, which are usually depleted after a tough workout.
4. Chocolate milk
Chocolate milk is a surprisingly good treat to have after a workout. | iStock.com
Flavored milk, which includes chocolate, vanilla, and strawberry, has a great carb to protein ratio and aids in muscle recovery and rebuilding, Rebecca Scritchfield, a District of Columbia nutritionist, tells The Washington Post. Your post-workout snack should have a ratio of 4 grams of carbs to 1 gram of protein. To compare, an 8-ounce glass of 2% milk has 12 grams of carbs and 8 grams of protein.
In order to meet the recommended ratio, The Washington Post recommends adding a few more carbs to your after-workout snack. You can easily do this by blending a banana with chocolate milk, or drinking/eating the two separately.
Kefir is a healthy addition to your diet. | iStock.com
Kefir, a fermented milk product, is a great source of protein, vitamins, and minerals, per Livestrong. Interestingly, kefir is made the same way as yogurt: Milk combines with bacteria and is allowed to ferment. The main difference is that more and different types of bacteria and yeast are used to create kefir, which has a tangy taste and a texture similar to pourable yogurt.
A serving of this dairy product packs a serious protein punch. Livestrong notes one cup of kefir has 11 to 14 grams of complete protein. It’s also a good source of calcium and vitamin D.
Quinoa is a complete protein, unlike many plant proteins. | iStock.com/VeselovaElena
Often when you try getting all your protein from plants, it can be difficult to find foods that fill you up. This is one of few foods that’s packed with protein and other nutrients to help you build muscle and stay satisfied. Quinoa provides 8 grams of protein per serving, which is more than most other grains. Unlike other plant-based proteins, quinoa is also a complete protein, meaning it contains all essential amino acids. According to MedlinePlus, complete proteins ensure your body can repair and make new cells. In terms of fitness, this is especially important when it comes to repairing and building muscle.
Protein isn’t the only notable benefit to quinoa. It also yields more fiber than the average grain, and is gluten-free. It’s a low glycemic index food, so it’s perfect for regulating blood sugar. Quinoa is a quick and easy way to fill up on nutrients that won’t leave you feeling hungry just hours after a good workout.
After a workout, it’s important to eat something that won’t leave you feeling hungry later. | iStock.com/bhofack2
Navy beans are a cheap, versatile food you can incorporate into a number of meals and snacks throughout your day. These small white legumes offer 15 grams of protein per cup, and their fiber content makes them good for your heart and gut. They’re perfect for slow cooker recipes, so if you like coming home from the gym to a hot meal, give these a try.
The World’s Healthiest Foods suggests pairing navy beans with whole grains, such as brown rice, to create a heart-healthy, fiber-rich snack. You’ll get all the protein you need for post-workout muscle repair without the saturated fat that often comes with dairy products and red meat. There’s nothing wrong with eating these foods, but it’s good to vary your meals so you don’t get bored.
8. Canned tuna
Tuna is a lean protein perfect for building muscle and losing fat. | iStock.com/Amarita
If you’ve never considered tuna as a go-to, post-workout snack, it might be time to give it a try. It’s an excellent source of lean protein, which is ideal for anyone trying to build muscle and lose fat. Six ounces of tuna can give you up to 33 grams of protein and only about 2 grams of fat, according to Livestrong. You’ll also get plenty of omega-3 fatty acids, which are important for keeping your heart healthy as you stick to your workout routine.
Don’t hesitate to get creative with your canned tuna snacks, either. You can stuff vegetables, bake mini casseroles, or even just eat tuna with crackers. You can also combine tuna with navy beans to create a protein-packed casserole.
9. Trail mix
Choose a trail mix high in protein but low in sodium, sugar, and saturated fat. | iStock.com/bhofack2
Generally, trail mix is a combination of a variety of nuts and other dry ingredients. Traditionally, nuts and dried fruit were the only ingredients. Over time, various trail mix brands have also added chocolate pieces, like M&Ms, to their mixes. Because of this, you’ll need to steer clear of trail mixes that are too high in sodium, sugar, and saturated fats. You can easily toss together your own homemade mix using a variety of nuts and other ingredients while keeping the protein content high and everything else reasonably low.
10. Cottage cheese
Casein is slow to digest, which makes it the perfect post-workout snack. | iStock.com/YelenaYemchuk
Cottage cheese is made from the curds of pasteurized cow’s milk. It’s an excellent source of casein, a protein just as effective at stimulating muscle growth as whey. However, because casein is slower to digest than whey protein, it is also more effective at preventing your muscles from breaking down after exercise.
According to Livestrong, casein protein can take up to seven hours to digest. This slow digestion process will keep you feeling fuller longer, so you’ll be less tempted to snack on junk food later on in the day. Eating dairy products instead of getting your casein from a supplement also has added benefits like boosts in vitamin D, potassium, and calcium. Do watch the sodium content, though. Check nutrition labels to find a brand of cottage cheese that is lower in salt, but still rich in protein and complex carbs.
7 Simple Foods That Provide Protein After a Workout
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You know you should eat protein after a workout. And although you may think it should come in the form of powder in a shake, supplements definitely are not the only way to take care of your post-workout nutrition needs.
Plenty of whole foods provide a muscle-friendly protein boost. Whole foods have many vitamins, minerals and other nutrients that could be missing from your shake. You can find examples of food sources below, but let’s first take a look at what makes up a good post-workout meal.
For an average sized person, 25-35 grams of high-quality protein would be a great mark to shoot for. The quality of a protein source has to do with its amino acid profile.
For muscle building, the amino acids leucine and valine play vital roles in muscle protein synthesis. Amino acids tend to be present in most animal protein sources—meat, fish and dairy—but are less prominent in plant sources.
That being said, plant sources can provide great amounts of protein, and a mix of plant and animal sources would be most optimal. Vegan athletes need to pay close attention to their protein intake to ensure they are ingesting sufficient amounts through a variety of sources.
Another important nutrient to consider after a workout is carbohydrate. Replenishing glycogen levels (or stored glucose ) in your muscles and liver, is important for any glycolytic athlete. Glycolytic sports are fast-paced, predominantly requiring glucose as a fuel source. Basketball, tennis, sprinting and CrossFit are glycolytic sports. Eating adequate amounts of carbohydrate post-workout or event can ensure that your body is ready for the next bout of activity. In addition to short-term recovery, carbohydrate can stimulate the release of muscle-friendly hormones like insulin. Insulin helps shuttle protein and amino acids to your muscles after a hard workout.
The only nutrients to limit post-workout are fat and fiber. They are super important in their own right, but they can slow digestion of other foods. After a workout, athletes want rapid digestion so that amino acids and other nutrients can immediately make their way through their bodies. Limiting fat and fiber intake to the meal following your post-workout meal is optimal for most athletes.
Now that we have a good idea of the why and how, let’s take a look at 7 examples of foods that provide post-workout protein.
1. Greek Yogurt Parfait
Their low cost, accessibility and superior amino acid profile make dairy products a great post-workout protein source. Whey and casein protein supplements are derived from dairy sources, and dairy has one of the highest amounts of leucine per gram of protein. Adding berries and granola gives the high-protein Greek yogurt a perfect dose of carbohydrates along with more nutrients and antioxidants. For the slightly lactose-intolerant, yogurt tends to be easier on the digestive system than whole milk and protein powders.
2. Rice and Beans (Vegetarian Source)
When combined, these two foods complement each other’s amino acid profiles so well that they mirror that of an animal source. This example shows that a mixture of protein sources is always a great idea. It ensures that all your bases are covered.
3. Egg White + Deli Sandwich
For busy athletes or students with limited cooking skills, a sandwich is a great option. Combining egg whites or whole eggs with lean meats like sliced turkey or chicken delivers an awesome dose of protein and amino acids. Remember, we’re after an easily digestible carbohydrate source, and bread, even whole wheat bread, is just that. As mentioned above, minimizing fat intake post-workout is optimal; but don’t be afraid of an egg yolk because of the fat. Egg yolks are among the most nutritious and athlete-friendly foods on the planet. So eat up, but don’t eat entire carton in one meal.
RELATED: Finish Your Workout With Eggs, A Great Source of Protein
4. String Cheese + Fruit
This is the perfect combo for on-the-go athletes. Three sticks of low-fat string cheese provide over 20 grams of protein. Bananas, apples and oranges may not be as nutritious as berries, but they are portable, making them excellent choices for a fast-moving situations.
RELATED: 6 Amazing Benefits of Eating a Banana Every Day
5. Tuna + Salsa + Rice
Canned tuna (in water) has been a staple in athlete and bodybuilding diets for decades, and for good reason. One can of tuna typically contains close to 30 grams of protein, takes little to no preparation, and can be doctored up to taste great. Pairing tuna with rice and salsa is a personal favorite and a great protein/carb combination. You can also add a bit of light mayonnaise and vegetables for a great tasting tuna salad.
6. Cereal + Milk
It may sound strange, but cereal can be a great option if your protein goals are on the lower end of the range. Two servings of low-fat milk provides 15-20 grams of protein, and cereal could be a great source of post-workout carbohydrates. Not to mention, more companies are taking a healthier approach by fortifying their cereals with added vitamins and minerals.
7. Baked Potato + Lean Protein Source
Potatoes, both white and sweet, are amazing sources of post-workout carbohydrates. They are fast-digesting, nutrient-packed, and tasty to boot. Pair a baked potato with a lean protein source like chicken breast, ground beef or turkey, or fish after a workout. Tip for beginner chefs: Wash a potato, poke holes in it with a fork, wrap it in a damp paper towel and cook in the microwave for 6-7 minutes. Voila! Baked potato.
These are just a few examples. Remember, protein after a workout doesn’t have to be complicated. Consume 25 to 35 grams (depending on your body size) and pair it with a fast-digesting source of carbohydrate. Vitamins, minerals, fat and fiber are all extremely important for your health, performance and recovery; but your main objective post-workout should be to take care of protein and carb intake.
Photo Credit: Getty Images // Thinkstock
How to make your 3 best DIY post-workout drinks
Post-workout drinks you can make at home. You ran, you pedalled, you lunged, you lifted – you exercised until you felt the burn. Now, it’s time to refuel. Forget processed store-bought energy drinks, packed with artificial colours and nasties, and prepare your own fresh, all-natural, nutrient-rich sports drink.
Packed with the good stuff, they’ll help you recover from your workout and help the urge to binge later on. Whether you’re building muscle or shedding fat, there’s a flavoursome thirst-quencher for all every kind of fitness type:
For muscle growth
Protein is crucial for rebuilding muscles bigger and stronger after a weights workout. If you blitz up the right foods, protein powder isn’t necessary. Instead, use natural sources of protein such as nut butter, raw cashews, Greek yoghurt and chia seeds for a filling and satisfying boost. The most important thing is timing: make sure you get your protein hit two hours post-workout to aid muscle recovery. Generally, most of our protein is consumed at dinner, so whipping up a restorative smoothie for breakfast is the best way to refuel.
Peanut and chia homemade protein shake
Recipe by Jamie Oliver
- 1 banana
- 150g natural soya yoghurt
- 100ml of dairy-free milk
- 1 tbsp peanut butter
- 1 tbsp chia seeds
- ½ tsp cinnamon
For weight loss
If you’re trying to shed pounds, your post-workout snack could be your most important meal of the day. The trick is to replenish your energy stores and rehydrate without overdoing the calories – try to limit it to about 300 calories with a mix of carbs and protein. Since ready-to-drink shakes often contain added sugars, additives and unnecessary ingredients, making your own means you know exactly what’s going into your body.
With natural electrolytes from coconut water, iron-packed spinach, inflammation-reducing pineapple, and ginger to help aid digestion, this is the perfect refuel that won’t leave you hungry later on.
Low-calorie green smoothie
Recipe by Gimme Some Oven
- 1 banana
- Fresh ginger, peeled, to taste
- 2 handfuls fresh baby spinach
- 1 cup frozen pineapple chunks
- 1/2 cup coconut water
- 1/2 cup almond milk
- 1 Tablespoon chia seeds
Dose up on vitamins and minerals and you’ll soon be glowing with incredible energy after your workout. Blitz up a spinach-based smoothie to soak up its iron, a top component of energy production in the body. Made up of glucose, fructose and sucrose, bananas are energising gold, while yoghurt adds a dose of magnesium and calcium to your diet. Another superfood to add into your post-workout shakes is spirulina, feel-good algae made up of 62% protein and a whole range of vitamins, minerals, essential fatty acids and antioxidants. Try it in your refuelling shake and you’ll be glowing in no time.
This spirulina smoothie combines banana, blueberries, spinach, kale, chia seeds, coconut water (nature’s finest isotonic drink), hemp protein powder and spirulina for a wonderful turquoise treat.
Finishing the right kind of smoothie with fill you with the empowerment of knowing you’ve just taken in everything your body needs to get stronger. Who knows – when they’re as delicious as these post-workout drink recipes – it may even persuade you to hit the gym more.
Recipe by Deliciously Ella
- 1 ripe banana
- A cup of frozen blueberries
- cup of spinach and a cup of kale
- 3/4 of a cup of water or almond milk or coconut water
- tablespoon of chia seeds
- 1 teaspoon of hemp protein powder
- 1 teaspoon of spirulina
- Optional: 2 medjool dates for sweetness
Uncover more Nutrition tips here.