What you eat after a workout can be just as critical to your fitness goals as the workout itself. Eating the wrong post-gym foods can impede muscle recovery and growth, deplete energy, hinder fat loss, and discourage proper hydration.
If thoughts of healthy after-work out foods conjure up grim images of things such as bone-dry rice cakes, there are better options. Try these nine tasty, no-fuss foods that are great for refueling and repairing your body after a workout.
- Plain Greek Yogurt
Plain Greek yogurt is packed with protein (one cup offers an impressive 17 grams), calcium, and carbs, essential nutrients that stimulate your body’s recovery after a workout. If you top yogurt off with fruit, it will be tastier, as well as more nutritious. This is because fruit contains simple carbohydrates, which the body rapidly absorbs to replenish post-workout sugar level slumps. Any of your favorites will do the trick, but bananas may be the best option since they abound in restorative potassium and carbs.
Greek yogurt also contains phosphorus and calcium, which promote healthy bones. Its rich texture may help you feel fuller for a greater length of time and also make you feel like you’re eating something incredibly decadent.
- Fat-Free Chocolate Milk
Speaking of decadent, chocolate milk isn’t just for four-year-olds anymore. It’s a perfectly acceptable post-gym indulgence. The taste isn’t only swoon-worthy, but surprisingly, chocolate milk delivers protein, carbs, high fluid content, calcium, AND vitamin D. Research indicates that mighty chocolate milk may even amp up glycogen levels just as effectively as carbohydrate sports drinks. It’s also an economical alternative to those pricey beverages.
- Whey Powder
Don’t let its bland appearance fool you. Whey powder is a post-workout dynamo. It packs nearly as much protein as an ENTIRE chicken breast. It also spikes your insulin, which prompts muscles to soak up glucose, and it bolsters your immune system. Here’s an added incentive to consume whey powder after a workout: it can burn almost double the body fat of people who don’t eat it.
When it comes to post-workout eats, the humble egg is an enduring classic. No matter how you crack it — fried, scrambled, in an omelet, or even if you drink it raw, Rocky-style — you’ll get the same array of nutrients. Eggs contain all nine of the amino acids comprising the proteins that develop your muscles. And don’t throw away those yolks! They’re also vital to enhancing your body’s protein synthesis.
- Sweet Potatoes
Protein alone is insufficient after-work out food. It needs to be complemented by plant-based carbohydrates. The best ones for the job are sweet potatoes. Not only do they have substantial amounts of fiber and carbs, but they have a grand total of three days’ worth of vitamin A. When baked in their skin, they contain four grams of fiber and 23 grams of carbs.
You’re not always eating healthy when you’re drinking a smoothie. Many commercially made ones are loaded with sugar and calories. Your best bet to ensure that you’re drinking a healthy smoothie is to make one yourself.
Healthy smoothies are easy to whip up. Start off by creating a liquid base with something such as almond milk or coconut milk. Add power foods such as yogurt, berries, leafy green veggies, and bananas. Throw in some protein powder, and you have a healthy, filling drink.
- Whole Grain Sandwich Wraps
This is a great super food to get wrapped up in. The whole grains in wraps provide high-quality, high fiber carbohydrates, and if you fill them with turkey, you’ll get a whopping 19 grams of protein in a four-ounce serving. Instead of mayonnaise, top the wrap with amazing avocado, that’s replete with magnesium and potassium. Avocado also contains loads of vitamins and unsaturated fats that are kind to your heart.
Pistachios are the superheroes of nuts. While other nuts do contain important nutrients, pistachios boast a hefty six grams of protein. They’re also rich in electrolytes such as sodium and potassium, as well as a slew of fiber. As an added bonus, pistachios are extremely portable. Just throw some into your workout bag, and enjoy them when you’re done exercising.
Chicken is a great replacement for other meats because it’s lean protein. This means that it doesn’t contain the surfeit of fat found in other meats. Buy free-range chicken for the most nutritional content.
In the 20 to 30 minutes after exercising, your body is prepared to absorb the substances that will start replenishing it. Within that brief window, you need to eat foods that will help build your muscles and crank up your energy. The above food suggestions will help you do that to get the biggest benefits from your workout.