Eating the right foods immediately after your workout is the key to really making the most out of your workout. You need the right mix of carbohydrates, nutrients and protein to help you recover quickly, burn away fat and build muscle. That’s why supplements have become so popular. Luckily there are many delicious meals that can help you optimize your recovery and muscle growth.
Try out one of these meals after your next workout:
1. Black Bean Omelette
If you’ve really worked up an appetite this is the perfect meal for you: 4 egg whites, 1 ounce of low-fat cheese and a ¼ cup of black beans make the ultimate omelet for muscle building. The beans provide extra protein as well as a range of healthy minerals to help your body recover quickly.
2. Almond Butter & Jam Sandwich
We all know peanut butter contains loads of helpful protein, but did you know that almond butter is actually much better for you? Almonds have a much higher calcium content than peanuts and are also richer in several other nutrients. To make this meal, extra healthy try using rice cakes instead of bread.
3. Pita & Hummus
Hummus has been described to me as the protein of champions and there’s a good reason for this. Two scoops of hummus loaded onto a single pita will give you the perfect combination of carbs and protein. Make sure you stick to chickpea-based hummus for the best health effects; red pepper and other dips don’t contain the same amount of protein.
4. Chicken Hash
Are you a meat lover? Try roasting one cup of diced chicken with ½ cup butternut squash and apples in a mixture of olive oil, salt and pepper. The chicken gives you all the lean protein you need to build stronger muscles while the squash and apples provide the nutrients to help you recover quickly. Feel free to add other spices as well.
This often overlooked food contains an impressive 14 grams of protein per 100 grams and a wide range of amino acids and nutrients. It has very little flavour of its own and can be added to salad or any number of foods.
6. Spinach-based Salad
Studies have shown that spinach has much more protein than most forms of lettuce and may be able to increase your muscle growth by up to 20%. Make sure you use an oil based dressing as cream based dressings have a massive calorie count.
7. Wild Salmon
Salmon has a high concentration of omega fatty acids as well as protein while still being quite light in calorie content. Stick with the wild kind and you’ll get an impressive nutritional boost—not to mention significantly better flavor.
In case you haven’t figured it out yet, you don’t actually need to eat meat to get the right amount of protein. There’s actually an impressively high level of protein in broccoli. Oh, and vitamin A, E, B6, B1 and a huge range of minerals. Eat it raw and dipped in hummus or lightly steamed—every minute you cook your broccoli it is losing nutrients!
9. Brown Rice
Any rice is good for you but brown rice is by far the best. Throw in some beans to get a nice protein boost. Be careful with soy sauce as it contains high levels of salt.
10. Cottage Cheese
It’s a bit of an acquired taste but every cup of cottage cheese contains a whopping 28 grams of protein, not to mention high levels of calcium and healthy bacteria that keeps your digestion moving. Eating it by itself is best but you can also spread a small amount over brown toast.
11. Lentils & Chickpeas
The combination of simple carbs and protein found in lentils and chickpeas make them some of the healthiest foods around while their minimal flavor makes them some of the most versatile. You can do just about anything with lentils and chickpeas, so get experimental—just avoid heavy sauces that are high in salt or sugar.
Papaya is a great post-workout snack because it contains papain, a substance which helps your body break down protein for use. Combine it with a protein heavy snack from this list to maximize your results.
13. Apples & Cheese
Slice up an apple and some of your favorite cheese and you have a fantastic muscle building combination. Apples contain a high portent of vitamin C as well as fiber that helps you digest the protein and calcium in your cheese.
14. Tuna Salad & Crackers
Mix up some simple tuna salad with onions, grated carrots and a little bit of light mayonnaise and spread it over some whole wheat crackers for a delicious protein heavy snack that will help boost your muscle growth in a big way.
15. Roast Beef & Squash
Many health nuts will tell you to stay away from beef altogether but it is possible to get lean beef that is actually really good for you. Stick with a thin slice and combine it with some butternut squash to cover a complete range of nutrients.
Whole grains are among the healthiest foods out there and oats are the healthiest grain of them all. Make sure you’re always starting from raw oats rather than instant packages as many of these packages contain ridiculous amounts of sugar. Add some fruit or honey for flavor.
17. Milk & Cereal
Not all cereals are created equal but there are several high-quality whole wheat options to choose from and some even contain almonds or berries for an extra nutritional punch. Make sure you drink the milk once you’re done the cereal to get every ounce of calcium you can.
18. Banana & Peanut Butter Sandwich
Bananas contain large amounts of vitamin B6, vitamin C, and potassium. Peanut butter gives you the protein and the whole wheat toast(or a rice cake for even more nutritional power) gives you a host of vitamins and minerals to help you recover and start building muscle more quickly.
19. Fruit Smoothies/Shakes
These might taste like dessert but they can pack an impressive nutritional punch if you make sure to use the right ingredients. Try to always make sure you have a banana in there so you can maximize the healthy minerals entering your system.
20. Protein Bar
Protein bars have a bad reputation among many serious bodybuilders but the good ones are an excellent option if you’re really short on time. Make sure you always go for a bar with 10-30 grams of protein and less than 10 grams of sugar. If you’re not careful you can end up eating a protein bar that’s more like a dessert.
Eating to optimize muscle growth doesn’t mean you have to eat boring foods. Mix and match from this list, explore different ways to cook these foods, and experiment with different kinds of shakes to keep things interesting.
See Also: Best Post Workout Supplements