These eight mini-meals and snacks can help you maximize the effectiveness of your morning workout routine.
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The equation is simple: high fiber carbohydrates + protein = optimized recovery after your workout. This combination ensures that your body has all it needs to properly recover, replenish, and refuel.
Post-workout, your body is hungry and eager to replace the nutrients and energy it lost during exercise. It is best to start the re-fueling process between 30 and 60 minutes after working out. Aim to get some clean, lean protein, which rebuilds muscle—and include some carbohydrates to reload energy stores. Yes: carbohydrates are necessary. If we don't incorporate carbs into our post-workout meals, our bodies may actually break down muscle tissue. That's because the glycogen stored in your muscles is depleted during exercise. If its not replaced by carbohydrates, the body will begin to break down muscle tissue to feed itself.
Smoothies make a great post-workout recovery drink because of the instant absorption of a custom assortment of nutrients. For a delicious, whole-food-packed option, try the Jamba Juice Protein Berry Workout Smoothie. It's under 300 calories and packs 2.5 servings of fruit per cup, plus soymilk and your choice of soy or whey protein.
Whole-wheat pita + ½ medium grilled chicken breast + 1 oz. melted feta cheese + 2 slices tomato
This tasty Mediterranean inspired post-workout mini-meal will provide you with all the necessary ingredients to help your muscles rebuild and recover!
Half a medium grilled chicken breast provides approximately 30 grams of protein—combine that with the energy-replenishing whole grain carbs found in the pita and you've got a post-workout winner. Added bonus: Feta cheese is particularly rich in conjugated linoleic acid which is a fatty acid and antioxidant that may aid in abdominal fat loss.
On the go post-workout? 1 oz. of Turkey Jerky provides 15 grams of muscle rebuilding protein. The amino acids in protein are necessary to rebuild muscle tissue post-workout. Why Jerky over a quick protein bar? Jerky gives you the protein you need without the added sugars and fat found in many protein bars. Combine tasty jerky with an orange loaded in potassium to replace electrolytes lost during exercise and fuel your next workout.Nutritional Information:185 calories, 0.5g fat, 0g saturated fat, 17g protein, 28g carbs, 3g fiber
Quick and Easy Cooked Chili
½ cup 90% lean ground turkey
½ cup black beans
½ can seasoned tomato sauce
1/8-teaspoon salt-free chili powder
Who says post-workout meals can't pack some serious heat? Chili is a complete and balanced mini-meal that you can enjoy soon after exercising.
Choose lean or extra lean ground turkey for an excellent source of protein that curbs your hunger without loading you down with fat. Black beans provide carbs to refill your energy stores and fiber that will help you stay full post workout.
Turkey and low-fat cheese roll-ups provide necessary post-workout protein with an added bonus for muscles: Calcium. This essential mineral may be best known for its role in building and maintaining healthy bones, but it also contributes to muscular functioning and circulation which may help improve overall athletic performance.
Pineapple not only has energy-boosting carbs, but also contains bromelin, a natural anti-inflammatory compound, which may reduce post-workout pain.
Tuna, a protein powerhouse, is low in fat (when canned in water, rather than oil) and provides heart-healthy omega-3 fatty acids.
Omega-3s may also boost metabolism—yet another reason to grab a can of tuna post workout. Skip the mayo and try using a dollop of Greek yogurt or a combo of lemon juice, mustard, salt and pepper to keep it nice and lean. Pair your tuna with a piece of toasted, high-fiber whole wheat bread or crackers for an energy-boosting crunch.
When it comes to post-workout protein, eggs are an excellent choice. That's because egg protein is high in biological value, which means that the protein found in eggs is ready to be utilized by the body and most efficiently used for growth.
Load up your eggs with spinach for added vitamins and nutrients and tuck this delicious scramble into a whole wheat tortilla for a post-workout meal that will make your muscles pop.
A recent study published in the International Journal of Sport Nutrition and Exercise Metabolism notes that chocolate milk can be an optimal post-exercise recovery aid.
Chocolate milk not only provides an ideal combination of carbohydrates and protein—which your body craves post workout—but it has a high water content, which helps prevent dehydration from fluids lost during exercise. Paired with a serving of crunchy and satiating almonds, you'll almost feel as if you're eating dessert (minus the guilt).