You've just finished your workout and of course you are famished and need to eat. What do you reach for? There's a lot of debate over what the "right" post-workout foods are. Some people think that it's perfectly fine to eat junk food after a workout because you've earned the right. This is actually a bad idea and it can offset the progress you made.
Dieting is much more important than exercise when it comes to losing fat and putting on muscle. Exercise can only compensate for so many diet mistakes, so you should definitely stick to eating whole foods with your post workout meals. These are 8 of the best foods that you should consider if you are looking for ideas for post workout meals. These foods will help you build muscle and avoid weight gain.
Post Workout Food #1 - Grilled Chicken
Grilled chicken or roasted chicken is by far one of the best post workout foods. Adding chicken to veggies is even better, but you should be careful to avoid grains and rice as much as possible. Satisfy your craving for carbohydrates with vegetables as much as possible, and if you do need to eat some grains stick to whole grains like quinoa or brown rice. Grilled chicken has the amino acids and protein that your body is craving to rebuild muscle, and it will satisfy you and keep you full until your next meal. It can be especially good if you work out earlier in the day or in the middle of the day and it can help you avoid a drop off in energy between meals.
Post Workout Food #2 - Greek Yogurt
Greek yogurt is one of the best foods in general for your overall health because it is packed with protein and it is a good source of healthy carbohydrates. Mixing it with fruit like blueberries, peaches or other fruit can make it even better, as it can replenish your energy and it provides your body with a quick source of protein. Berries have nutrients that can help your body recover and fight soreness, so include them with your Greek yogurt if you decide to eat it after a workout. Also, Greek yogurt goes really well with several smoothie recipes, and it can work as a whey protein supplement when you don't have any whey around.
Post Workout Food #3 - Whey Protein
This list wouldn't be complete without the obvious choice of whey protein, and whey has many advantages compared to other post workout foods. It should be mentioned upfront that whey protein can have additives and other compounds that can make it just as bad on your body as junk food, and that you need to be especially careful of the brand of whey that you purchase. But, organic brands and brands that are made with as few additives as possible can be a great option for a post workout meal. The big benefit of whey protein is the fact that it is so portable and easy to make; there are few other protein sources that take just a few seconds to prepare. It can provide you with 20-23 grams of protein or more very quickly, and it can ensure that your muscles have the amino acids they need while you wait for your next meal.
Post Workout Food #4 - Hummus
Hummus is a good but not great source of protein, and it is also a good source of healthy carbohydrates. It can replenish your energy right after a workout, and it is great with several different vegetables such as sugar snap peas, broccoli, cauliflower, and carrots. Combining hummus with fresh veggies can definitely take care of some of your post workout energy needs, but you'll also need to include a source of protein like chicken, whey protein, Greek yogurt or a smoothie. Hummus is just very convenient because it is so easy to prepare, and with the wide range of packaged hummus products available it is easy to always have available following a workout.
Post Workout Food #5 - Tuna
Tuna is another convenient source of protein, and you can quickly make a tuna salad or eat tuna with crackers to replenish your energy. Tuna is a great source of protein; 100 grams of canned tuna have a whopping 30 grams of protein and just 180 calories. It is a great source of amino acids and healthy fats; the only downside is that you don't want to eat it too often because of the mercury content. Mix tuna up with other healthy seafood like salmon to avoid excessive mercury intake. Also, supplements like chlorella can help your body cleanse itself of heavy metals and mercury, so be sure that you are taking supplements, and if you work out regularly you should also be taking a fish oil supplement which can help the recovery process.
Post Workout Food #6 - Eggs
Eggs are nature's convenient protein snack and you can easily prepare them in just a few minutes after a workout. Adding healthy fats like olive oil or coconut oil can be a great idea to reduce post workout inflammation and protect your cardiovascular system. You can also quickly make a meal with eggs and vegetables which can help your muscles recover. Eating a piece of whole wheat toast can be a good idea right after a workout because it will supply your body and muscles with carbohydrates, and combining the toast with eggs is a good idea. Eggs have over 6 grams of protein and just 70 calories each, but make sure that you cook them because raw eggs do not have any nutritional benefits over cooked eggs, and they do have a risk of salmonella. Stick with organic varieties that are antibiotic free and from free range hens.
Post Workout Food #7 - Dried nuts and fruits
Dried nuts like almonds, walnuts and cashews and dried fruits can be a perfect combination for a post workout meal. The nuts provide you with healthy fats, protein and some carbs, while the fruits provide you with more carbohydrates and beneficial compounds and antioxidants. Of course it is better to eat fruit whole, but when you are in a pinch or traveling, coming up with your own trail mix of nuts and dried fruits can be very helpful. If you're worried about the carb content, use a higher ratio of nuts to fruit, and some good options for fruit include apricots, plums, mangos and peaches.
Post Workout Food #8 - Apples and peanut butter
Peanut butter on apples can be a great and delicious post workout food that takes just a few minutes to make. You don't want to eat a ton of peanut butter because it can contain harmful mycotoxins, which almost every variety of peanut butter has in small amounts. Over time these toxins can increase your risk of cancer, and it is one reason why nut butters like almond butter and cashew butter are better options. So if you don't want to use peanut butter you can replace it with a nut butter, but in general this meal will provide you with healthy fats, protein, and carbohydrates so that you can recover more quickly. It is easy to prepare and it can hold you over and provide you with muscle building nutrients until your next proper meal. Eating peanut butter in small quantities every now and then won't hurt you, and it can be a convenient quick source of healthy fat and protein.