Consuming the right nutrients after a workout can make or break your gains in the gym.
We all think hard about what we eat before a workout, right? We need energy and fuel to lift big and maintain the gains we worked hard for. After all that effort under the bar, it would be a shame to lose it all due to a poorly planned post-workout meal.
Eating carbs and protein after your workout are the keys to rebuilding the glycogen stores and repairing those strained muscles. With the right nutrients, you will decrease the breakdown of your muscle protein, increase growth, and ultimately enhance recovery all while seeing your hard work come to fruition.
Timing, timing, timing. Many suggest eating your post-workout meal within 45 minutes upon completion as your window for protein restoration begins to diminish after that. Of course, this depends on person to person, but that 45 minute window will help your body rebuild the glycogen stores faster, thus ensuring those gains do not fall short.
Thinking of fun and easy ways to create healthy options all while enjoying the meal can be difficult. Here are 4 easy post-workout meals to ensure those gains keep rolling and your hard work does not go unnoticed. Oh, and they taste good too.
#1 High Protein Peanut Butter Cup Milkshake
Who doesn’t love a Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup? This milkshake will curb that sweet tooth all while giving your body the proper nutrients to recover. Blend this up at any time of the day for that sweet treat feel minus all the sugar. Take on the go or enjoy on the couch, but either way, this milkshake is sure to be right up everyone’s alley.
¼ cup peanut butter
2 medium bananas
1 ½ cup of low fat milk or almond milk
1 Tbsp cocoa powder
¼ tsp vanilla extract
Add ingredients in a blender with desired amount of ice. Blend until smooth.
Top with any desired topping of your choice such as mini dark chocolate chips, chopped nuts, or cinnamon.
#2 Protein Pancakes
Everyone loves a good, thick pancake, but that burden put on by carbs can be quite the deterrent. These protein pancakes are sure to give you all the feels of those thick, fluffy pancakes we all know and love without the guilt attached. Packed full of protein, these are great for those trying to get lean without sacrificing all the gains. The bonus: add whatever toppings you love on top for that sweet craving.
4 eggs whites
½ cup of oats
½ cup of cottage cheese
1/8 teaspoon of baking powder
½ tsp of vanilla extract
Place all ingredients in a bowl and mix together. Add mixture to a frying pan and cook on medium heat. Once the pancake reaches a golden color with bubbles on top, flip over to the other side. Once cooked through, add whatever desired topping on top and enjoy.
#3 Black Bean Egg White Omelette With Avocado
A good omelette is the perfect post-workout meal to ensure those gains stay right where they are. Everyone has their favorite add-ins to an omelette, whether it be peppers, onions, spinach, or a host of any desired topping. This black bean omelette is great because with the added protein of the beans, your overall protein intake is met without a second thought. Feel free to add whatever else to this hearty meal to make your favorite omelette.
4 eggs whites
¼ cup of black beans
1 cup chopped tomato
1 ounce of low-fat cheese
Pour egg whites into a frying pan on medium heat. Add black beans, diced tomatoes and low-fat cheese (or whatever desired toppings) on top of the egg whites. Once cooked through, flip half of your egg whites over to create the perfect omelette. Add diced or sliced avocado to your dish and enjoy.
#4 Beef and Squash with Marinara
For those who enjoy a workout later in the day, this dish is sure to satisfy your afternoon, or even dinner, cravings. Satiate your desire for a hearty protein with beef and add that perfect pasta substitute of butternut squash or zucchini to feel great while enjoying this fun spinoff of pasta and meat sauce. Between the beef and the squash, your energy stores will feel recharged and your hunger will be suppressed offering a great post-workout meal.
8 oz of lean grass-fed beef
1 butternut squash
4oz marinara sauce
Salt and pepper for taste
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Cut one whole butternut squash in half and place in oven for 45 minutes, or until soft. Cook 8oz of lean grass-fed beef with salt and pepper if desired for taste. Once squash is done, carve out into a bowl. Add your beef inside and pour desired amount of marinara on top to create the perfect post-workout dish.
So, while these post-workout meals are sure to keep your hunger at bay, provide the much needed nutrients for recovery, and ensure big gains, it is important to remember to eat within a 45 minute window upon completion and to load up on protein and carbs for maximum benefit.
Fat is not bad to consume post-workout either, and although it may slow the absorption of the meal, the benefits still stand. It is best to maintain a 3:1 carbs to protein ratio, but if some fat happens to find its way into your post-workout meal, so be it. Your gains will not be disrupted.
Whether it be a quick snack like tuna and crackers or pita and hummus, or something more elaborate like beef and squash with marinara, the important thing is to give your body ample recovery so as to not lose the hard work you put in. Hydration and nutrition are key to a healthy body and a healthy mind so give these post-workout meals a try and let us know what you think.