Does getting through a grueling workout include thoughts of your post workout meal of cheeseburger and onion rings? Then it sounds like you should change the chip in your brain on just how you reward yourself because what you eat after the gym may just be the most important meal of the day.
When it comes to post work out food, “it all comes down to the carbohydrates and protein,” Manuel Villacorta, R.D., a spokesperson for the American Dietetic Association, told Men’s Fitness. “They’re the two key things your body needs—and right after you work out is when your blood circulates best.” A few hours after working out, the protein in your muscles decreases and muscles begin to break down. However, within a 45-minute window, your body is the most responsive to absorbing carbohydrates and protein. Here are the top 10 post workout meal and snack ideas to fuel and revive your depleted muscles and keep you looking and feeling great.
1. Chocolate Milk
Your old time after school favorite is the latest craze in post-workout snacks. But how you ask? Because it has everything in a glass: carbs and protein for muscle recovery, water content to replace the fluids lost as sweat and calcium, sodium and sugar, all ingredients that help you recover faster, retain water and regain energy.
Read Related: Best Post Workout Food: 10 Foods to Help Muscle Recovery
Whether you cook up some quinoa, brown rice, beans or whole wheat pasta, you’ll need at least a half a cup of whole grains to refuel. Plus, grains are filling and will stop you from snacking needlessly later.
3. Grilled Chicken
If you are wondering what to eat after a workout, keep in mind that the recovery nutrients found in the lean protein and carbohydrates of chicken will fill you up without causing you to feel overly bloated.
4. Vegetable Omelet
Eggs are a great source of protein and help aid in muscle recovery and growth. Add some healthy and fiber-rich avocado which will help your body absorb the vitamins in your vegetables.
5. Sweet Potatoes
Not only are they delicious and in season, but they pack in those complex carbs to restore glycogen levels, which get depleted after a workout.
6. Greek Yogurt
This wonder yogurt has double the amount of protein compared to regular yogurts and includes carbohydrates. Top it with low-fat granola or oatmeal and fresh berries, which help fight muscle soreness.
7. Fruit Salad
Refreshing fruits are not only loaded with antioxidants and carbohydrates, but with enzymes to help your body break down nutrients so they can be delivered to your tired muscles. Pineapple is great for anti-inflammatory purposes.
Your favorite pink fish contains small protein molecules called bioactive peptides that play a role in inflammation reduction, helping to regulate insulin levels and give you joint support.
9. Tuna Fish
Your favorite go-to tuna fish sandwich (on whole wheat bread of course) is low in calories, but high in protein and carbs. The perfect sandwich for the lunchtime exerciser.
10. Wholegrain Cereals
High protein, high fiber cereals like Nature’s Path and Kashi are perfect for reloading the muscle energy stores. Serve it up with Greek yogurt and fresh fruit for extra carbs and protein.