9 Foods You Should Always Eat After Your Workout
Ditch the ready-made shakes which can be high in fat and empty calories. Carefully use this “hour window” to feed your nutrient starved muscles with these power-packed foods to replenish energy and build muscle:
Two-fold power, spinach is also an ideal pre-workout food as it boosts strength with phytoecdysteroids (a natural plant steroid); think Popeye. These same plant steroids have been shown to increase muscle growth by a whopping 20%!
Builds muscle by “repairing” torn fibers following a vigorous workout, protein is crucial. Warning: protein shakes served at most gym smoothie bars can be packed with sugar and other “flavorful” ingredients; watch especially the peanut butter, typically low-grade and high-sugar. Best to bring your own protein (put the powder in a shaker bottle). FYI: Protein content in a typical piece of chicken breast is 20 – 30g.
Try these all-natural protein powders: Vega Whole Food Smoothie Infusion (vegetarian), Garden of Life Beyond Organic Raw Protein (vegetarian), Pure Protein (a bargain; can is $1.99 at Trader Joe’s).
Packed with potassium, calcium, folic acid, copper and fiber. Avocados are also a carotenoid-rich food which helps protect the body’s immune system, typically much lower following a workout (see why).
Sure tuna is good for you but the canned variety is up for debate. Salmon is high in protein and omega-3s. Opt for the wild variety. Cook with olive oil, which has the highest levels of polyphenol phytonutrients. Add red or cayenne pepper to boost your metabolism. (FYI: a scary New York Times article on “widespread” mis-labeling of fish)
5. Sweet Potato
Yes, it’s a carb, but unlike the bread basket, sweet potatoes are complex (good) carbs and are one of the most nutritious vegetables. High in fiber, protein and iron, the sweet potato helps to restore muscle glycogen for faster recovery. Try steaming some (I leave the skin on) and store in the fridge. (Findings on potential cancer prevention with a new breed of sweet potato)
- Tip: Combine items two through four for an ideal post-workout meal!
Ditch the brown rice (brown rice is good, but takes a tad long to cook) try this easy-to-cook and unconventional power seed, rich in protein, iron and vitamins (you can’t find that in rice). Quinoa is an ideal source of fiber. Find out why I’m so big on fiber. It’s pronounced keen-WAH.
It can be delicious, it’s all in the prep. The stems are difficult to digest, chop off the florets, wash and top with olive oil, sea-salt and chopped pepper. Micro for 90 seconds to 2 minutes. Should be crunchy and deep green. Broccoli is a perfect vegetable, high in chromium which helps to metabolize protein. Eat (more) of it.
These make for heart-healthy, heart-warming soups. Lentils are high in protein and fiber. They’re inexpensive and easy to prepare. If it’s on the post-workout dinner, restaurant menu, order it instead of fat-filled French Onion or any bisque.
The omega 3s in flaxseeds could help to reduce inflammation, beneficial in muscle recovery. Flaxseeds also promote fullness and might very well curb your midnight cravings. Opt for the oil variety as seeds are difficult to digest. Bonus: flaxseed oil helps prevent acne (when eaten, so don’t put on your face). Warning: follow the directions and serving suggestions on the container before supplementing flax in your diet.