What are the best post-workout foods?

4267907_origWhat are the best foods for me to eat after my workout?  This is the one question most clients ask me, and it’s often times the most difficult to answer. Why? Because it really depends on your goals. Are you trying to lose weight, build mass or just tone up? Each scenario has its own eating regimen. That said, there are certain general foods that you can add to (or keep) in your diet post workout no matter your goals. Foods that everyone’s body needs to recover, refuel and rebuild.

During your workout, the fuel your muscles use (carbohydrates) is depleted and the muscles are broken down (protein degradation), so they can be built up bigger if that's your goal, and stronger. Don’t let this scare you ladies! There are certain ways you can workout so you don’t bulk up, which I’ll get to in a later blog post. When I say ‘build themselves back up’ here, I don’t necessarily mean bulk. I mean to recover in general.

In order for the muscles to build themselves back up (recover), you must provide them with the necessary nutrients they just lost. The timing of this is very important, because once the muscles lose those nutrients, they are ready and open to receive them back. On top of that, they are only open for a certain amount of time. So this means two things...

First, these nutrients must be consumed shortly after your workout is completed, ideally within the first hour. Second, if you’re putting chemicals and nasty stuff in your body within this timeframe, your muscles will absorb that since they’re so ready for nutrients. So it’s even more critical to eat these essential whole foods instead of chemical filled fluff that will do more harm than good.

Since you are mainly losing protein and carbohydrates, those are the two things you should focus on replenishing first. You’re all probably familiar with post-workout shakes… I love them! Actually, I use Shakeology and it’s simply amazing. It not only provides the protein and carbohydrates but it also offers other nutrients your body needs to replenish itself with along with electrolytes, vitamins, and minerals. If you opt to drink a protein, you will give your body all it needs very quickly because liquid is absorbed faster than a solid. That said, for this blog, we are going to focus on foods that will complement your protein shake well, or take the place of it all together.

1. Eggs

Eggs are a low calorie food packed with protein. In terms of getting protein from a low cal and affordable food, eggs are the best bang for your buck -- lots of protein in just a small number of calories, not to mention the added bonus of natural vitamins. There are a million ways to cook them, so get creative and keep things fresh by trying new recipes. The last thing you want to do is get bored of these awesome foods

2. Chicken

Chicken, one of the most popular, and easy to cook meats out there. Stay away from frying it of course, but go ahead and grill, bake, or roast it! For every 100 grams of chicken, you get 30 grams of protein, that’s pretty darn awesome.

3. Greek Yogurt

This dairy product is another one of those foods that is packed with a ton of protein in every bite. Just one single serving container of Greek yogurt will have about 100 calories in it and 17 grams of protein! To give it even more nutrients with a dessert like taste, mix in a scoop of your chocolate or strawberry Shakeology. Trust me, it’s amazing.

4. Milk

Low-fat milk is nutrient dense and great for getting your protein and calcium fix while keeping the fat consumption relatively low. What’s even better than plain milk? Chocolate milk of course! Chocolate milk is proven to be very beneficial, so go ahead and indulge! (Just keep the sugar and fat content low) For those of you staying away from milk, try Almond Milk.

5. Water

Don’t forget to rehydrate yourself after your workouts. Seriously, don’t forget about this! I consider it one of the most beneficial post workout routines. While water may not be rich in protein or carbohydrates, it is absolutely necessary for your body to repair itself. You may not realize how much water you lose doing your workout, but you should aim to drink two or three glasses of water per pound you lose during a workout.

6. Quinoa

Quinoa is one of my favorite superfoods, and one of the best for building your muscle back. It is a whole grain and wonderful source of carbohydrates, but it is also packed with protein. You get the best of both worlds in just one food, not to mention there are a ton of delicious recipes you can make with it.  Quinoa is one of those foods that absorbs the taste of foods it’s mixed with, so get this versatile grain in your diet for breakfast, lunch or dinner. On top of that, it’s an easy food to make as a pre-made meal or snack that lasts for days. So it’s a nice grab-n-go post workout meal if your day is slammed like mine!

7. Bananas

Bananas are a great source of carbohydrates as well as potassium. The carbohydrates in bananas are fast acting so they will restore your muscles’ glycogen stores quickly, and help repair them. Pair that with the potassium that will help prevent muscle soreness, and you have yourself your very own recovery supplement that didn’t break the bank.

8. Almonds

These little nuts are packed with an abundance of protein, carbohydrates, vitamins, and fiber. Not only are you getting the protein and carb fix you need, you get vitamins that help in repairing muscle, as well as fiber which will keep you full, preventing overeating. If you workout at the gym, I recommend packing them in a small bag and take with you for immediate consumption after your workout.

9. Spinach

I think spinach is one of those foods that people either like or hate, BUT spinach contains some amazing muscle building and recovery components. Lets just say Popeye wasn’t off base for eating this to stay strong. If you aren’t keen on eating straight spinach though, try it mixed in your salads, sandwiches or even smoothies! I promise you won’t taste it. I blend it daily with my Shakeology.

10. Sweet Potatoes

Sweet potatoes are a great source of carbohydrates along with a multitude of vitamins and potassium. Your muscles’ energy levels will be replenished quickly, they will assist the muscle building process. And believe it or not, sweet potatoes have almost 30% more potassium than a banana…can you say, “Goodbye sore muscles”?!

11. Oatmeal

Oatmeal is another one of those foods that gives you the best of all worlds. It is a whole grain packed with protein, carbs, fiber, vitamins, and minerals. It definitely fills you up for a small amount of calories, not to mention there is so many things you can do with it. Throw some cinnamon, a splash of milk, fruit, nuts, flaxseed, or anything else you think sounds good to mix things up a bit and keep it fresh. Make this a part of your daily routine regardless of if you workout.

If you found these tips helpful, and are looking for motivation to either start your fitness journey with Shakeology or take it to another level, I’d love to hear from you! Contact me here and I’ll follow up with you. I’d love to hear from you!

Cheers! Jenny