Protein and carbs are the two keys to a good post-workout meal. Eggs have the former covered. At just 70 calories each, eggs pack 6.3 grams of protein and are one of the few foods that naturally contain vitamin D. Also, don’t let the Rocky movies fool you; raw eggs have no advantages over cooked ones. In fact, cooking eggs allows your body to absorb almost twice the amount of protein.
For your dose of carbs, brown rice is fine, but it can’t compete with all the vitamins and nutrients found in quinoa (pronounced “keen-wah”). It also contains far more protein and fiber than brown rice, and requires less time to prepare.
Get 32 fun quinoa recipes here.
Instead of a Gatorade, grab a glass of OJ. In addition to vitamin C, you’ll also get significantly more potassium than you would from popular sports drinks, which are generally intended for use during extended exercise, not after. Potassium is an important electrolyte that helps the body restore its fluid levels. Orange juice also works well for protein shakes.
Kefir, a fermented milk drink made from probiotic bacteria, has been growing in popularity, and rightfully so. Just one cup of kefir contains 11–14 grams of “complete proteins,” which don’t occur naturally in the body. Dairy proteins are especially helpful for maintaining lean muscle mass and speeding up weight loss. While its tangy flavor may take some getting used to, it mixes well with fruit, cereal and whey protein.
Get a recipe for a banana-kefir smoothie here.
Bananas are high in the “good” kinds of carbs you need after a workout. These fast-acting carbs will help restore your body’s levels of glycogen, which helps rebuild damaged muscles. And they provide lots of wonderful potassium.
Not only will you get a large dose of protein, but the anti-inflammatory omega-3’s found in salmon will help rebuild your muscles and increase performance.
Get this recipe here.
These little guys give your body a huge antioxidant boost. In fact, studies show that blueberries can triple your rate of recovery after intense workouts.
8. Whole-Grain Pita and Hummus
This is a great meat-free option that’s also very easy to prepare. Made from chickpeas, hummus contains both protein and carbs, and the slow-release carbs from the pita will keep energy levels up after a tough workout.
Get this recipe for parsley hummus here.
9. Dried Fruit and Nuts
Pineapples contain bromelain, a natural anti-inflammatory that’s been proven to heal bruises, sprains, and swelling. They’re also high in vitamin C, a key component in repairing tissue.
11. Sweet Potatoes
Along with a healthy dose of carbs, sweet potatoes contain a variety of vitamins and nutrients, particularly vitamins B6, C, D, magnesium, and potassium.
Get a recipe for garlic-and-thyme-roasted sweet potatoes here.
Kiwis pack huge amounts of vitamin C and potassium into a tiny serving. They’re also an excellent source of antioxidants, which help combat muscle soreness. Bonus tip: Don’t throw out the skin; it’s full of even more nutrients.
This one may seem obvious, but failure to hydrate properly is a common exercising mistake. To feel great and stay energized, you should replace every pound lost during a workout with 2–3 glasses of water.
14. Most Important: Eat SOMETHING
Your body uses a lot of energy during a workout. If you don’t replenish it within an hour or two after finishing, your muscles won’t properly recover, and all your hard work could go to waste. Even a small fistful of food within 15 minutes of working outgoes a long way.