A long training session can take a lot out of your body. Pre-workout, you’ll likely eat a boatload of carbohydrates as an immediate energy source to make it through your exercises. Afterwards, however, you want meals that will replace the protein in your muscles in order to repair and build them.
According to nationally recognized, award-winning dietitian Manuel Villacorta, whatever post-workout foods you choose should be consumed about 15 minutes after your workout ends. You should strive for at least 30 grams of protein and between 30 and 35 grams of carbohydrates.
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Here are five foods that will transform your post-workout recovery and replenish the fuel your body has burned through.
1. Sandwich wraps
Wraps made with whole-grain bread and wholesome ingredients like turkey, chicken, lettuce or tomatoes provide a good combination of complex carbohydrates, which won’t give you a post-workout insulin surge, and proteins, which will help your muscles repair themselves for future growth and development. Adding mixed vegetables to your wrap will increase its nutritional value and the micronutrients you get from your post-workout meal. Sandwich wraps are also convenient and portable.
2. Fruits and almonds
Fruits provide healthy carbohydrates that will give you a quick energy boost, as well as multiple antioxidants, vitamins and minerals, according to Men’s Fitness. Incorporating a pear, apple or banana in your post-workout snack can help keep calories low and nutrition sweet and easy. Adding almonds gives you protein and healthy fats, additional energy sources to work from and material to further repair and build your muscles.
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3. Greek yogurt
Greek yogurt is a healthy, protein-packed option for a post-workout meal. It also makes an excellent base for post-workout smoothies, or it can be easily added to other dishes, such as dips, sauces or mixed in for a tangy kick of protein. It makes an excellent choice because it has significantly more protein than regular yogurt, and servings today come light or fat-free, giving athletes an option for what kind of nutritional value they seek from Greek yogurt. It also provides a boost of calcium, making it excellent for bone health as well as muscle development.
Whether they’re scrambled, sunny side up or baked into an omelette with chicken and veggies, eggs make a fantastic, versatile base for a post-workout meal. This protein and fat-rich food is a great source of important nutrients such as Vitamins B and A. The majority of the fat in the yolk is healthy, promoting good cholesterol. Incorporating eggs into your post workout meal makes for an easy-to-cook, easy-to-prepare and cheap source of protein for athletes looking to build muscle without consuming excessive saturated fat or carbohydrates.
5. Chocolate milk
One of the most surprising but good choices for a post-workout meal is chocolate milk. Typically associated with elementary school and assumed to be a sugar-laden waste of calories, chocolate milk is actually surprisingly nutritious, particularly for a post-workout meal.
This yummy drink contains all the healthy proteins found in milk and comes in low-fat varieties to keep the extra calories down.
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Researchers at Cornell University claims that milk-based drinks are superior to protein shakes for athletes looking for the best source of nutrition. The calorie and protein arrangement was ideal for athletes, with sugar low enough not to upset a stomach and fat content low enough to be easily digestible and low-cal. Rather than fork over money for an expensive chocolate-flavored protein shake, pick up a jug of chocolate milk to save money and get all the nutrition you need.
Your post-workout meal should replenish your energy, help repair your exhausted muscles, and keep your digestion moving without overloading it, undoing all your hard work or giving you a rush of insulin after exercise. Check out these healthy choices to improve your recovery and help build a stronger you. However, if you need a wider range of healthy after-workout snacks, look for low-fat, gluten-free, high-protein items that boost your muscle building rate and help you strengthen your physique.