Make sure you’re getting 30-40g of proteinic your post-workout meals (or at least 20 g). Aim to eat leucine-rich protein foods (the amino acid is found in eggs, chicken, etc.). Include quality carbs, especially after long aerobic work to refill those energy stores befor your next workout.
Here are 7 optimal post-workout meals and snacks to help you refuel and recover.
1. Homemade chocolate milk
“Chocolate milk is deemed the king of easy, convenient, and cheap post-workout options,” Mazur says. That’s because it hydrates while providing a solid source of protein and carbs. “Opt to make your own version as most found at the grocery store contain high amounts of added sugar.”
2. Protein oatmeal
“Oatmeal is a great source of whole-grain carbs,” Mazur says. “Mix in a scoop or two of your favorite protein powder to make it a complete post-workout snack.” You can also add your favorite nut butter.
3. Low-sugar breakfast cereal and milk
“Look for cereals that have minimal added sugar and provide natural sources of carbs that are high in fiber,” Mazur says. (Think: whole grains.) You can also find varieties with a good amount of protein (look for 10g), which, when you add milk, are a convenient way to refuel and recharge.
4. Grilled chicken and sweet potatoes
More of a savory guy? Bypass breakfast and sink your teeth into some chicken and potatoes. “A typical 4oz piece of grilled boneless, skinless chicken breast can provide around 35g of muscle-building protein,” Mazur says. As for the sweet potatoes, they’re very similar to white tubers, but slightly lower in calories and carbs—plus they have a more diverse micronutrient profile.
5. Protein pancakes
“Add protein powder or pick up a commercially available protein pancake mix to turn this traditional sugar-laden breakfast into a protein-packed post-workout meal,” Mazur says. Just go easy on the syrup—and use real maple syrup, not the processed stuff with corn syrup and caramel coloring.
6. Whole eggs and toast
“Eggs are an excellent source of protein (7 grams per medium egg),” Mazur says. If you have time, make an omelet or a scramble with four whole eggs and vegetables. If your mornings are a little crazed, make hard-boiled eggs ahead of time and grab before you run out the door. “Pair whole-grain toast and you have a cheap, easy, complete post-workout meal,” Mazur says.
7. Whey protein shake
Blend one to two scoops of high-quality protein powder with your choice of liquid. It doesn’t have to be whey; you can use pea or rice if you’re a vegetarian or vegan. Likewise for the liquid you can choose dairy or non-dairy milks, or even water. “Add fruit and/or vegetables to provide the protein and carbs needed in a classic post-workout recovery grab-n-go option,” Mazur says.
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