So not everyone wants to drink a shake after an intense workout (ya – weirdos!)…Some people want real, whole foods as their primary source of recovery so they want to know, what are the BEST post workout foods.
Some people that are much smarter than me and love looking in microscopes all day long have concluded that hydration is most important after an intense workout session (agreed), followed by replenishing glycogen stores that were exhausted and getting enough amino acids from protein to stimulate protein synthesis. The most widely accepted ratio of carbs to protein for effective recovery is a 4:1 carb to protein ratio. For most people, 40-60g of simple carbs is ample for proper protein synthesis, followed by 10-15g of quick dissolving protein. Its recommended that you replenish those depleted glycogen stores with carbs within the first 30 minutes of stopping exercise to optimize the levels of glucose and amino acids into muscles. Its science!
#1 – BEETS This “make you think your bleeding while pooping” produce, has some very beneficial compounds – nitrates and betalains. These help your body transfer oxygen to muscles more efficiently, aid muscle contraction, lower blood pressure and this little root also get to tout that magic word that Dr. Oz is always talking about…antioxidants! Studies show that beetroot juice, even cooked beets can improve performance when eaten pre-workout, but they also have post-workout benefits too. I recommend blending these bad boys up into a shake, but they are also amazing roasted with some olive oil and sea salt.
#2 – EGGS Eggs are the “perfect protein.” These magical little breakfast delights contain all nine essential amino acids, which means that having a meal with eggs post-workout can help to repair body tissues broken down during exercise and can aid in strength gains (as a result of better recovery). One large egg has around 70 calories, 6g of quality protein, 5g of total fat and a whole slew of vitamins and minerals, including iron, vitamin D, zinc and choline. I think everyone knows how they like their eggs…
#3 – WATERMELON Ever notice that watermelon slices are at the end of most endurance events. This summer fruit delight is 92% water, making it the optimal choice to help rehydrate. One cup of watermelon has just 40 calories and is an amazing source of vitamin C, lycopene, potassium and vitamin A. A little fun face: an amino acid in watermelon, L-citrulline, has been shown to help maintain healthy blood vessels, increase nitric oxide which improves blood flow. This stuff is perfect on it’s own, especially when you have someone around to spit the seeds at, or blended into a smoothie.
#4 – GREEK YOGURT This creamy, yumtastic snack has 14g of protein and just 100 calories per 6oz serving. Whats best about Greek yogurt is that its a portable snack and its the perfect adder to a recovery shake. Just be sure you stay away from sugary “fruit on the bottom” varieties, which are packed with refined sugar and unnecessary calories. For that optimal protein-to-carbohydrate combination that is so beneficial for exercise and muscle growth, I like to have plain nonfat Greek yougurt with a handful of fresh berries and a little stevia for sweetener.
#5 – QUINOA This ancient grain has more protein than most other grains (8g in just a 1 cup serving) and is loaded with iron and fiber. Like eggs, it’s considered a complete protein, meaning it provides all of the nine essential amino acids the body needs to function properly. The benefit of consuming a complete protein post-workout show a link between protein-rich foods and increases in physical performance, training recovery, lean body mass, muscle hypertrophy and strength gains. Oh and for you hippies out there…its gluten free too! I love to eat quinoa as a hot breakfast cereal with some unsweetened almond milk, natural honey, cinnamon, and granny smith apple. Its also a good substitute when you get bored with brown rice.
#6 – SALMON Salmon has always been known for being an excellent source of omega-3 fatty acids, which promote heart-health. Not all fats are the devil…good fats, like the ones found in salmon, play an essential role in hormone production (think testosterone and growth hormones) which for you lumberjacks, means muscle growth and strength gains. The “good” fat found in salmon can also elevate your metabolic rate, which helps you to shed additional fat and build lean muscle mass. Containing about 17g of protein per 3oz serving, salmon provides essential amino acids to help rebuild muscle tissue. I love to eat salmon grilled over a bed of low-fat cottage cheese with hot sauce…not the norm, but its friggin tasty!
#7 PEANUT BUTTER Peanut butter…GLORIOUS peanut butter. I am pretty sure there is no tastier source of nutrition on the planet. It’s a solid source of plant-based protein and healthy fats. Plus, compared to all those other hippie nut butters like cashew, almond, and walnut butter…it’s much more affordable. A tablespoon of peanut butter packs about 95 calories, 4g of monounsaturated fat (the good kind) and 3.5g of protein that helps to curb hunger. Peanut butter is loaded with vitamin E, magnesium and B vitamins which help to convert food into energy. In fact, vitamin E plays an essential role in helping to prevent free-radical damage after intense workouts so you can recover quicker. Shoot for an all-natural peanut butter with no added sugars or oils. There are so many ways to enjoy peanut butter, but my fave is on a piece of hot whole wheat toast with sliced banana. Oh and of course blended up in my chocolate shakeology!
I hope these post workout foods listed above have given you some ideas for more options when it comes to workout recovery. Be sure you let me know if you have any questions at firstname.lastname@example.org
WHATEVER IT TAKES!