I don’t know about you, but sometimes I am not all that hungry directly after my workout. 30-60 minutes later I am starving!
However, I also want to make sure that I maximize my workout effectiveness, which is why I focus so heavily on my post workout nutrition. The best thing that I have found to eat after workout isn’t any one food in particular.
In fact, I have found that a two-step post workout nutrition strategy has worked best overall. Focusing on whole, delicious, nutrient dense foods is going to be key. This article will breakdown my two-step process, give you a few ideas on what to eat for food right after a workout, and give you some recipes so that you can keep things interesting!
Not putting fuel into your body after a workout is like running around with your gas tank empty, it just doesn’t work out all that well. You have just incinerated a bajillion calories in your workout, broken down hundreds of muscle fibers, and sweated out a good portion of your fluid reserves. The best way to put all of that back into your body while maximizing fat loss and lean muscle building is going to be the following process.
Step One: Protein and Quick Digesting Carbs
Step one in the two-step process involves quick digesting carbs and proteins so that you get an instant shot of fuel back into those muscles. This helps with recovery for the next day as well as curbs your appetite enough so that you can make a healthy choice for step two!
This would involve a protein shake and either a sports drink or a handful of grapes (or another type of fruit), which should be consumed within 30 minutes of your workout.
Step Two: Eat Some Real Food
Step two is going to be where the real fuel gets back into your body. This is where the grilled chicken and rice, or the pasta and turkey meatballs comes into play.
Your body needs that heavy injection of fuel after a workout. I personally like to consume this meal 60-90 minutes post workout. Not only does that fit into my time table well, but it also allows my body to cool off from my workout.
Your type of training will also help you decide what type of fuel is going to work best for you after your workout. Endurance training, strength training, power training, yoga, and a variety of other types of training call for different types of fuel.
Endurance training: workouts such as triathlon training or generally longer cardio sessions, is going to call for more carbohydrates post workout. You will burn through your carbohydrate stores in no time, and therefore will need to replace them. The best combination to eat after an endurance training workout is high carbs and quick digesting protein. For example, a fruit juice and protein shake immediately post workout, plus pasta with turkey meatballs 60 minutes later.
Low Intensity Workout: workouts like yoga won’t require quite as much fuel post workout as a strength or endurance workout because it doesn’t put the same amount of stress on the body. However, it does still require fuel. The best thing to eat after a low intensity workout is going to be a small, easily digestible carbohydrate source such as fruit or rice cakes with a small handful of nuts or peanut butter.
Strength Training Workout: lifting workouts are going to leave you starving because of the amount of work that you put your muscles through. This means that keeping your post workout close to the end of your workout is going to be key. The best post workout combination after a strength training session is going to be a mix of carbs and protein, both easily digesting. A smoothie bowl or a bowl of cereal and a protein shake are great options!
Here are a few of my favorite post workout recipes!
- Chunky Monkey Shake
- 1 Frozen Banana
- 1 Scoop of Chocolate Protein Powder
- 1 cup Almond Milk
- 1 tbsp Peanut Butter
- Blend all together and enjoy! Add ice if you want more of a frosty consistency.
- Flex On ‘Em
- 6 Ounces Lean Steak
- 1 cup Rice
- 2 cups Steamed Broccoli
- 2 tbsp fat free Blue Cheese Dressing
- Grill the steak, then serve with the cooked rice and broccoli! Add the blue cheese on top of everything, or whatever you like it on.
- Just a Kiss
- 10 sliced strawberries
- ½ cup Blueberries
- ½ cup raspberries
- 1 cup Vanilla Greek Yogurt.
- Protein Mocha (1 scoop chocolate protein, 1 cup cold brewed coffee, ½ cup almond milk, blended)
- I call this one just a kiss because usually when a toddler eats it, they want a kiss. Next thing you know you are covered in berries and need to get out the oxy clean ?
- Pasta Bonanza
- 1.5 cups cooked pasta
- 6 ounces cooked ground turkey
- ½ cup chopped zucchini
- ½ cup tomato sauce
- 2 tsp parm cheese
- Mix it all together and enjoy! I like the raw zucchini in this dish because it gives it a little crunch and an extra boost of micro-nutrients.
- King of Cakes
- 4 Rice Cakes
- 2 tbsp Peanut Butter
- 1 scoop vanilla whey protein
- 1 sliced Banana
- 6 sliced Strawberries
- Mix the whey protein with just enough water to form a paste. Then, spread the paste on two rice cakes like frosting and top with the strawberries. On the other two rice cakes, spread the peanut butter and top with the banana.
- Lemon Poppy Seed Oats
- 1 tbsp sugar free lemon pudding mix
- ½ cup oatmeal-cooked
- 1 scoop vanilla protein powder
- 1 tsp poppy seeds
- Unsweetened almond milk to taste
- Cook the oats in water according to instructions on package. Then, mix in the protein powder, pudding, and poppy seeds. Sometimes this recipe can get very thick, so loosen it with the almond milk if you would like. Enjoy!
There you have it! You now have a basis on which to decide what your post workout meal should be. A good rule of thumb is going to be to stick with easily digestible carbs and protein within 30 minutes of the end of your workouts, then a bigger meal 60-90 minutes after your workout. Making sure your body is properly fueled after your workout will help you recover better and get better results.