What you eat after hitting the gym may just be the most important food you eat all day. Your muscles store excess energy in the form of glycogen and protein. During your workout, your body burns fuel from your pre-workout meal first, then it breaks down the glycogen stored in your muscles. Within a few hours of working out, muscle protein drops and muscles begin to break down. However, within a 45-minute window, your body is the most responsive with absorbing carbohydrates and protein. Here are the best 11 foods to eat post workout to fuel and reload the depleted muscles.
1. Eggs – At 70 calories per egg and 6.3 grams of protein it is the perfect food to eat post workout. It is one of only a few foods the naturally contains Vitamin D. The upside to eggs is all the ways they can be prepared, so that your meals don’t become boring.
2. Chicken – A staple of the bodybuilding world. It is high in calories but low in fat. At 38 grams of protein per cup it is the best protein source for refueling after a tough workout.
3. Salmon – One of the best sources of protein for your after workout refuel. It also contains important Omega 3 fatty acids that help with muscle repair.
4. Nuts – Contains both protein and carbohydrates for replenishing after your workout. They are portable so you can take them to the gym to have right after your workout. One ounce of Almonds contains 6 grams of protein, 1.3 grams of Omega 3 fatty acids and 13.5 grams of healthy unsaturated fatty acids.
5. Brown rice – Is a whole grain rice so it is healthier and more nutritious then white rice. One cup contains 216 calories, 25 grams of carbs, and 5 grams of protein. It can be made is bulk and stored in the refrigerator so your meal prep is easier post workout.
6. Quinoa – If you are looking for an alternative to brown rice then this grain has more protein and fiber. It also contains more vitamins and takes less time to cook.
7. Sweet potatoes – Healthier than white potatoes with more vitamins and minerals. One cup contains 27 grams of carbs.
8. Bananas – Contains high levels of potassium to fight off muscle cramps and a large dose of fast acting carbs to restore the body’s glycogen levels.
9. Blueberries – Studies have shown that blueberries can triple your rate of recovery after an intense workout. Plus they are high in antioxidants.
10. Kiwi – Another fruit that is high in antioxidants and potassium. Both these benefits can be obtained in small servings of this fruit.
11. Whole Grain Pita and Hummus – If you are looking for a meat free way to get the needed protein and carbs then hummus is the way to go. The pita has slow release carbs to keep your energy levels up.
Carbohydrates and protein are the two key things your body needs—and right after you work out is when your body is most in need of these two building blocks. If you’re main goal is to build muscle, eat at least 30 grams of protein and 30 to 35 grams of carbs within 15 minutes of your workout. If you’re just trying to stay in shape or shed a few pounds, you can take your time and eat within 45 minutes to hour after your workout.