10 Post Workout Meals & Post Workout Nutrition 101
What Should You Eat After Working Out? Get 10 Easy Ideas Now
The post-workout nutrition window is a tricky thing…
If you’re confused about it, you’re not alone.
This one meal spurs mass confusion in the exercise world.
And it’s no wonder, because there’s lots of crazy misinformation rolling around on the internet.
Fad diets, nutrition myths and just plain quackery run the gamut in the post-workout food department.
But today’s post breaks down Post-Workout Nutrition into simple, fact-based checkpoints you can follow.
Make sure you’ve got each one covered to see optimal results after your intense exercise session.
As a bonus, we’ve also compiled 10 Post-Workout Meals anyone can try. They are super easy, clean and nutritious!
Share with your friends and enjoy!
Why The Post-Workout Meal Is Different Than Other Meals
The body has a natural metabolic response to exercise.
After you workout, your body becomes especially good at tolerating glucose.
This makes it a great time to consume starchy carbohydrates and protein.
During the post-workout window, your body becomes a fat burning, muscle building machine.
Starchy carbohydrates and protein help your body utilize optimal resources to accomplish these two tasks.
But you’ll want to avoid consuming healthy fats post-workout.
Higher fat levels post-workout actually slow the digestion and absorption of protein and carbohydrates.
Why does this matter?
Well, your body needs these two macronutrients to repair and rebuild muscle and other tissues that were broken down in your intense exercise session.
So it’s not a great time to consume fats.
But that’s not to say you should completely avoid eating healthy fats.
You need healthy fats daily as part of a normal, balanced diet.
Just not for your post-workout meal. 🙂
What Does A Good Post-Workout Meal Include?
Good post-workout nutrition includes 4 simple things: Protein, Starchy Carbs, Veggies/Fruit, and Water.
^^^ Feel free to print or pin this infographic to help you remember what you need. ^^^
Protein is utilized to rebuild/repair muscle fibers and other tissues that were damaged as a normal part of intense exercise. Choose whole foods over supplements if you can.
Good sources of proteins include eggs, chicken, fish, lean red meat, whey protein isolate, and for vegetarians/vegans: beans, legumes, lentils, tempeh, and other high protein plant-based sources. If you’re looking for a protein supplement and confused about what to buy, just look for ones that don’t include too many additives or artificial sweeteners.
Stay as close to natural as possible.
Carbohydrates act as a “broom” to help “sweep” that protein up into the muscles and other tissues post-workout. This is a great time to knock out any carb-heavy cravings you’ve been having that week.
Great sources of starchy carbs are rice, potatoes, bread and pasta. Yes, you can eat bread & pasta!
If you’re aiming for fat loss, you’ll want to eat the majority of your diet’s non-plant carbohydrates after exercise. Eating your starchy carbs after intense exercise is a great way not to store them as extra fat in the body. They’ll be quickly utilized, and remember, your body is much more metabolically active & tolerant to glucose at this time.
Carb it up and enjoy!
You should aim to eat a rainbow of fruits & vegetables daily. In your post-workout meal though, make sure to include more veggies than fruit. Variety is key in your plant-based food selections.
The more colors and variety you include in your plant-based food selection, the better your micronutrient profile is going to be and the more efficiently your body will operate.
We recommend eating an abundance of fruits & veggies daily to help ensure you’re getting the necessary vitamins, minerals, phytonutrients and other beneficial micronutrients that only plant foods can provide in a complete package.
Of course, you need to rehydrate after an intense workout. During exercise, your body loses quite a bit of water due to sweating and exertion. But H2O is still necessary in the fat burning equation, and lipolysis (the breakdown of fat cells) cannot occur without it.
Avoid flavored waters or flavored water packets though. These flavorings often have artificial sweeteners in them which can lead to bloating, weight gain, and other health problems.
It’s best to drink plain filtered water, but if you need a few ways to jazz it up, feel free to add lemon/lime slices, cucumber & mint, or some other natural herbal infusion to your water.
10 Post-Workout Meal Ideas
So how do you combine these 4 things into an optimal meal?
Here are just a few ways we like to do it.
1. Simple Veggie Frittata – Skip the cheese post-workout to optimize this meal.
2. Superfood Protein Shake – Mix together 1-2 scoops protein powder, 1 banana, 1 date, 2 cups unsweetened coconut milk and 2 cups raw kale. Simple, easy and delicious.
3. Gluten Free / Grain Free Protein Pancakes – Simply delicious. Enough said! Sara even made a video for you to teach you how to make this simple, easy recipe. Add a few veggies before and/or after eating these, plus a couple strawberries on top, and you’ll be good to go!
4. Creamy Peanut Butter Protein Shake – Feel free to throw in some spinach or other greens to this. As long as you use the right amount, you won’t even be able to taste those extra veggies. 🙂 This is a great way to sneak in more greens for non-veggie lovers.
5. Cauliflower Protein Pancakes – Can you believe we’ve made pancakes out of cauliflower? This requires a bit more time to whip up, but you won’t be sorry. Enjoy your secret hidden veggies in pancake form!
6. Chocolate Protein Pancake Roll-Up – A simple twist on traditional protein pancakes! Add in extra veggies like celery sticks, bell peppers, or carrots with hummus either before/after eating these.
7. Strawberry Cheesecake Swirl Protein Shake – Though this recipe uses cottage cheese and xanthan gum, feel free to omit both for a smoother, less creamy shake.
8. Perfect Protein Sundae – While we normally don’t recommend eating too much dairy or relying on supplements to get your protein, you can occasionally try this easy recipe which uses greek yogurt & whey protein as an alternative to other proteins.
9. Orange Creamsicle Protein Shake – You can omit the cottage cheese in this if you don’t eat dairy. This one is a great option for warm summer days!
10. Easy Protein French Toast – Enjoy this with your extra veggies and a few blueberries on top. Yum!
Here are 6 more BONUS tips to make your post-workout meal as effective as possible:
- Make this your biggest meal of the day
- Choose whole, unprocessed foods over processed foods/supplements
- Include more veggies than fruit on your plate
- Eat a wide variety of colorful veggies/some fruit
- Eat organic, locally sourced foods when available
- Use smaller plates and utensils to slow yourself down
Hopefully this has helped you understand the best post-workout meals and how to structure your nutrition better!
If you enjoyed this and you’d like to learn more about how to eat a plant-based diet for easy weight loss, check out our 30-Day Meal Guide here.
And if you’d love other free Bikini Body recipes and tips & tricks, straight from the trainer pros, sign up for our VIP newsletter below:
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