The goods news is, you’re past the hard part; the bad news is that what you eat immediately after your workout might be sabotaging you.
The last thing you need after a long, grueling workout is to undo all of your hard work by eating the wrong foods or, even worse, not eating at all. That’s why we’ve done the research for you. So before you grab that protein shake, or sugary protein bar, check out our list of the top 10 foods for post-workout recovery.
You need both protein and carbohydrates in a good post-workout meal. Eggs have the protein part covered. That’s because an egg is only about 70 calories but each contains 6.3 grams of protein (about 12 percent of the daily recommendation.) They are also one of the rare foods which contain natural vitamin D. But don’t let the movies fool you– raw eggs have no edge over the cooked variety. Actually, consuming cooked eggs allows your body to absorb nearly twice the amount of protein.
2. Hemp seeds
Hemp seeds are a perfect go-to superfood and post workout food. Not only are hemp seeds an excellent source of plant-based protein, they are also rich in omega-3 fatty acids. These particular Omega’s are especially important to athletes since they can help reduce inflammation.
3. Quinoa (“keen-wah”)
Now that you’ve got the protein, look no further than quinoa for much needed healthy carbs. While many people opt for brown rice, the fact is that it can’t compete with all the vitamins and nutrients boasted by quinoa. In fact, quinoa contains much more protein and fiber than brown rice, and is easier and faster to prepare.
4. Orange Juice
Put down that Gatorade and grab a glass of orange juice instead! While many popular sports drinks can be beneficial during a workout, the benefits start to fade post workout. In addition to vitamin C, and significantly more potassium, orange juice is a better choice for helping your body recover after strenuous exercise. It’s also a great add-in for fruit smoothies or protein shakes!
Kefir is a fermented milk drink made from probiotic bacteria. While that may not sound too appetizing (and the tangy flavor may take some getting used to) the benefits will certainly outweigh the negatives. As a matter of fact, just one cup of kefir contains between 11 and 14 grams of “complete proteins.” Dairy proteins, like kefir, are especially useful for maintaining lean muscle mass and hastening weight loss.
With an abundance of “good” carbs your body craves after a workout, bananas are a great choice for a post workout snack. Bananas contain fast-acting carbs which help restore your body’s natural levels of glycogen, aiding in the rebuilding of damaged muscles. Of course they also provide plenty of fantastic potassium.
Looking for a huge antioxidant boost? Studies have shown that blueberries can triple your rate of recovery after a powerful workout.
8. Whole-Grain Pita and Hummus
Pita and Hummus is not just a great option for those looking for vegan protein options. Made from chickpeas, hummus contains both protein and carbs, and the slow-release carbs from whole-grain pita help to keep energy levels from sagging after a harsh workout. Also, it’s super easy to prepare.
9. Dried Fruit and Nuts
Besides being ultra easy and portable, a good dried fruit and nut mix can deliver a quick and tasty protein and carb fix. For an added boost, look for mixes that contain soy nuts. Soy nuts are exceptional for building muscle; as a half cup contains about 34 grams of protein.
Pineapples are sweet enough to curb your sugar cravings and nutritious enough that you won’t feel guilty about it. In fact, pineapples contain bromelain, a natural anti-inflammatory that’s been demonstrated to help heal bruises, sprains, and even swelling. Also high in vitamin C, pineapple can help repair damaged tissue.
So trade up from those pre-fab post workout treats you’ve been secretly sabotaging yourself with. Mix and match the ingredients above to make the most of your post-workout recovery. Simple and easy, a great post-workout meal may include a an omelette with spinach, a hemp protein shake, a tasty keifer shake with banana and berries or even a simple quinoa salad!
Do you have a favorite post-workout meal? Let us know in the comments!