Best Meal Options for After a Work Out
How you care for your body after a workout is just as important as how much you were lifting or how quickly you ran a 5K. If you aren't making nutrition a priority to reach your fitness goals, you slow down your progress. If planning a workout comes more naturally to you than protein and carbohydrates, you are in the right place. Here are a few meal options you can make part of your routine to encourage muscle growth and recovery.
Many athletes can't stomach a large meal after an intense gym session, which is fine as long as you are supplementing in other ways. You can pack your protein powder in your gym bag to enjoy after your workout and hold you over until your next meal. This way, you are still promoting healing without feeling uncomfortable. Not only is a protein shake much easier to drink on the go, but you don't have to worry about cooking. If you are busy at the office and like to get in a pump on your lunch break, this could be an easy alternative to fast food.
Lean protein is a great food choice after any type of workout. You can meal prep your breakfast, lunch and dinner each week, so you are in control of your calorie intake and to ensure you are eating enough protein. It is much easier to pop something in the microwave than having to stress about what you have in the fridge. Again, if you are working at the office, having meals ready is the best way to stay on track with your nutrition. The following are a few high protein options that are easily prepared beforehand:
- Spaghetti with ground turkey and zucchini noodles
- Chicken breast, broccoli and brown rice
- Chicken sausage with tomato sauce, bell peppers and mushrooms
Eating foods like sweet potatoes or whole-grain bread after endurance training will replenish your muscles and keep your mood boosted. Carbohydrates fuel your body, so it can help to consume simple carbs in the hours leading up to your workout if you ever feel low on energy. All the same, it is essential to eat carbs in moderation. There is a difference between eating a whole loaf of bread and adding granola to your acai bowl. It is all about finding the balance that encourages you to reach your goals and avoid overeating unnecessary carbs that will counter your efforts.
If you have ever asked yourself, "Why do I need to eat veggies?". Here is your answer. You need vegetables because they are jam-packed with vitamins and nutrients you don't get from other foods. This food group is also full of fiber that is required to manage healthy cholesterol. While they may not be the most delicious thing to eat, veggies play a crucial role in fighting heart disease and boosting your immune system. If you ever need a low-calorie snack, cucumbers or celery are great options. Most veggies are low in fat and calories, so you can essentially eat as much of them as you want— as long as you aren't adding unhealthy sauces.
Fruit is a good choice for snacking after a HIIT session, but some options are better than others. Bananas are full of potassium and work to fight cramps, and blueberries are high in antioxidants that can reduce the risk of illness. Any fruit is a healthier choice than say, a brownie, but you do have to be conscious about the sugar.
Post-workout nutrition is a challenging but necessary aspect of getting in shape and staying healthy. You can make a goal to eat right more often than not to help motivate you to stay within your macros. It is nice to have a cheat meal here or there, but there is nothing that will have you feeling your best after a workout like a healthy diet.