Best Post-Workout Meals: 8 After-Workout Recipes For Faster Results!

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Have you ever been in the predicament where you finish up a workout, head home then spend twenty minutes opening and closing your refrigerator trying to decide what you should eat?

It’s a situation that many of us have faced more than once.

You put a lot of effort into your workouts, trying to perform better and reach your fitness goals.

But, do you put as much thought into your post-workout meals as you do your pre?

If not, it might be time to reconsider because no matter how hard you workout, if you aren’t fueling your body then you won’t see the results you desire.

Consuming the right nutrients after you exercise is just as important as what you consume prior.

What is Post-Workout Nutrition and Why Should I Care?

As mentioned, what you choose to eat after working out is imperative to reaching your goals, whether that is losing inches or gaining muscle.

It’s important to understand how your body is affected by physical activity so you can help promote proper recovery.

As you are working out, your muscles use up their glycogen storage as a source of fuel and energy.

As your muscles become partially depleted of this substance, some proteins in your muscles also get broken down and damaged. [1]

Once you’re done working out, your body tries to refill its glycogen stores and works to repair and grow the damaged muscle proteins.

Providing the right nutrients can speed up this process, helping with muscle growth and recovery.

This portion of your workout nutrition is typically referred to as the “Anabolic Phase” for this reason.

The term anabolism refers to the “rebuilding” of something, and this phase has the most significant role in supplying your body with everything it needs to repair, rebuild and replenish.

Goals of this phase is to:

  • Replenish glycogen stores
  • Decrease muscle breakdown
  • Increase muscle protein synthesis
  • Lessen muscle soreness
  • Reduce cortisol levels
  • Speed up overall muscle and body recovery

Consuming a meal after working out helps prevent the secretion of cortisol, a “stress hormone” that has detrimental catabolic effects.

This hormone eats muscle tissue as a source of protein and converts it into glucose, resulting in muscle loss.

It also allows insulin to be released into the body, one of the several naturally occurring anabolic hormones.

Elevated insulin levels also help deliver nutrients into the muscle cells quickly and efficiently.

What Should I Eat and When?

Though there is some controversy among fitness experts, many stick to the rule of having a post-workout meal within two hours of working out.

Why such a short time frame?

Well, after you finish working out, the body is primed and ready to accept and process protein and carbs so that is can utilize these nutrients to their fullest.

Some argue that calorie partitioning (how calories are used after consumed) is at its best post-workout as well.

Ideally, a meal filled with healthy proteins and carbs should be consumed within 30 minutes of working out.

But realistically there is a 30 minutes – two-hour window in which the body can metabolize these nutrients the most efficiently.

Protein – Muscle Repair and Growth

Protein is crucial for helping to repair and build muscle.

Exercise triggers the breakdown of muscle proteins, and the rate in which this occurs depends on your level of intensity and style of training.

However, even the most well-trained athletes experience this breakdown. [2]

By consuming adequate amounts of protein after working out gives your body the amino acids needed to repair your muscles and provide the foundation for new muscle tissue to be formed. [3]

To maximize the body’s ability to recover post-workout, studies have shown that eating 20 – 40 grams of protein is the ideal ratio. [4]

Carbs – Overall Recovery

By consuming carbs post-workout, you’re helping to restore your energy levels that were used up during exercising by replenishing your glycogen stores.

Insulin secretion is also better stimulated when protein and carbs are consumed at the same time.

[5] [6] Research supports that the best way to quickly replenish your body after exercising is to consume fast-digesting carbs as soon as possible.

In fact, it was found that by delaying your carb consumption window by just 2+ hours reduced the rate of glycogen replenishment by 50 percent! [7]

8 AFTER-WORKOUT MEAL IDEAS

Okay, here’s the fun part – the food.

I like to keep my post-workout meals reasonably simple.

Lots of flavor, healthy nutrients and easily prepared.

I mean, realistically if you’re trying to fit within that 30-minute window, there isn’t much time to whip up a fancy-pants dish – unless of course, you’re planning on being the next “Chopped” champion.

1. Banana Bread Oatmeal

Banana Bread Oatmeal

Ingredients:

  • 1 Ripe Banana
  • ¾ Cup Oats
  • ½ Cup Almond Milk, Unsweetened
  • ½ Cup Egg Whites
  • ½ Tsp. Cinnamon
  • ½ Tsp. Vanilla Extract
  • 1 Tsp. Pure Maple Syrup
  • 1 Tsp. Chia Seeds
  • Chopped Walnuts
  • 1 Tsp. Almond Butter, Unsalted

Instructions:

  1. In a small bowl, mash banana with a fork.
  2. Stir in all other ingredients (except the walnuts and almond butter) until thoroughly mixed.
  3. Microwave on high for 2 ½ minutes, stirring every 30 seconds.
  4. Let sit for 1 minute, remove, stir and top with walnuts and almond butter.

Nutrition: Calories: 626 | Fat: 21.2 grams | Carbs: 71.6 grams | Protein: 30.7 grams


2. Grilled Hummus Chicken and Veggie Wrap

Grilled Hummus Chicken and Veggie Wrap

Ingredients:

  • 1 Whole Grain Sandwich Wrap
  • 2 Tbsp. Hummus
  • 6 oz. Grilled Chicken
  • ¼ Bell Pepper, Sliced
  • ¼ Cup Carrot, Shredded
  • ½ Avocado, Mashed
  • ½ Lemon, Juiced
  • 2 Tbsp. Feta Cheese
  • Lettuce

Instructions:

  1. In a small bowl, mix together avocado and feta.
  2. Add lemon juice and a dash of salt and pepper.
  3. Lay out the sandwich wrap and spread a layer of hummus.
  4. Add on avocado/feta mixture, veggies and grilled chicken.
  5. Place lettuce on the sandwich and wrap tightly.
  6. Lightly grease pan and heat over medium heat.
  7. Grill each side of wrap until slightly browned, about 3 minutes.

Nutrition: Calories: 570 | Fat: 31.2 grams | Carbs: 29.8 grams | Protein: 42.5 grams


3. Spicy BBQ Chicken Flatbread (Serves 4)

Ingredients:

  • 3 Chicken Breasts, Shredded or Diced
  • 1 Whole Wheat Pizza Crust
  • 1 Cup BBQ Sauce, Low Sugar
  • 1 Cup Cheddar Cheese, Grated
  • 1 Can Black Beans, Drained + Rinsed
  • 1 Can Corn, Drained
  • ½ Cup Red Onion, Diced
  • 2 Tbsp. Chili Powder
  • 1 Jalapeno, Diced
  • 1 Lime, Juiced

Instructions:

  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees
  2. In a small bowl, make corn salsa by combining corn, black beans, red onion, chili powder, jalapeno and lime juice.
  3. Prepare pizza crust by lightly brushing with BBQ sauce and another sprinkle of chili powder.
  4. Toss chicken in BBQ sauce and layer on the pizza crust.
  5. Top with cheese and corn salsa.
  6. Place into oven and bake for about 10 – 12 minutes until crust browns and cheese melts.

Nutrition: Calories: 426 | Fat: 15.8 grams | Carbs: 39.8 grams | Protein: 30.5 grams


4. Spinach and Goat Cheese Omelet

Spinach and Goat Cheese Omelet

Ingredients:

  • 3 Eggs, Scrambled
  • 1 oz. Goat Cheese
  • ½ Tomato, Diced
  • Handful of Spinach
  • Handful of Mushrooms, Rinsed and Diced

Instructions:

  1. Pour eggs into heated frying pan, sprinkle with a dash of pepper and cook until set.
  2. Add tomatoes, goat cheese, spinach and mushrooms.
  3. Fold eggs over and cook on each side until fully set.

Nutrition: Calories: 290 | Fat: 18.1 grams | Carbs: 4.9 grams | Protein: 29.2 grams


5. Sweet Potato Quinoa Bowls with Cilantro Crema (Serves 2)

iwillnoteatoysters

Ingredients:

  • 1 Large Sweet Potato, Peeled and Diced
  • 1 Tsp. Olive Oil
  • ½ Tsp. Cumin
  • ½ Tsp. Chili Powder
  • ½ Tsp. Garlic Powder
  • ¾ Cup Quinoa, Cooked
  • ¼ Cup Greek Yogurt, Plain
  • ¼ Tsp. Agave Nectar
  • 1 Lime, Juiced
  • ¼ Cup Cilantro, Chopped
  • 1 Cup Black Beans, Drained + Rinsed

Instructions:

  1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees and line a shallow pan with tin foil. Lightly grease with cooking spray.
  2. Toss the sweet potato in olive oil and spices and spread out onto greased pan.
  3. Roast for 15 minutes until tender.
  4. While the sweet potato is roasting, combine cilantro, yogurt, agave, lime juice and a pinch of salt and chili powder in a blender. Blend until smooth.
  5. Divide the quinoa into bowls and top with black beans and sweet potato.
  6. Drizzle with cilantro crema.

Nutrition: Calories: 486 | Fat: 8.1 grams | Carbs: 68.8 grams | Protein: 24 grams


6. Mean and Green Smoothie

Ingredients:

  • ½ Cup Baby Spinach
  • ½ Cup Baby Kale
  • ½ Cup Egg Whites
  • 1 Tsp. Chia Seeds
  • ½ Cup Almond Milk, Unsweetened
  • ¼ Cup Pineapple, Frozen
  • ½ Banana, Frozen

Instructions:

  1. Place ingredients into blender and process until smooth.

Nutrition: Calories: 439 | Fat: 19.8 grams | Carbs: 31.6 grams | Protein: 19.6 grams


7. Baked Egg Tomato Cups over Quinoa (Serves 2)

iFoodReal

Ingredients:

  • 4 Tomatoes
  • 1 Tbsp. Olive Oil
  • 4 Eggs
  • 1 Tsp. Garlic Powder
  • Salt + Pepper
  • ½ Tsp. Oregano
  • ¼ Cup Cheddar Cheese, Grated
  • 1 Cup Quinoa, Cooked

Instructions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Lightly grease a muffin pan with cooking spray.
  3. Cut off the tops of the tomatoes and scoop out the insides.
  4. Place upside down on a plate to drain excess liquid for about 10 minutes.
  5. Arrange hollow tomatoes into muffin pan, with opening to the top.
  6. Drizzle a small amount of olive oil inside the tomatoes.
  7. Sprinkle with spices and bake for 12 minutes.
  8. Remove from oven and crack an egg into each tomato.
  9. Bake for an additional 12 – 15 minutes until eggs are no longer runny.
  10. Sprinkle with shredded cheese and bake until melted, about 2 – 4 minutes.
  11. Serve with warm quinoa.

Nutrition: Calories: 404 | Fat: 21.5 grams | Carbs: 31 grams | Protein: 24.8 grams


8. Caprese Style Avocado Toast

Ingredients:

  • 1 Slice Whole Grain Bread
  • 1 Tsp. Olive Oil
  • ½ Avocado, Mashed
  • ⅓ Cup Cottage Cheese
  • 1 Tomato, Diced
  • Basil
  • Sea Salt

Instructions:

  1. Toast bread and drizzle with olive oil.
  2. Layer avocado and cottage cheese on top.
  3. Place tomatoes and garnish with basil and sea salt.

Nutrition: Calories: 380 | Fat: 24.5 grams | Carbs: 25.4 grams | Protein: 16.9 grams


9. Sloppy Joe Nachos

KeyIngredient

Ingredients:

  • ½ Cup Multi-Grain Tortilla Chips, Unsalted
  • 5 oz. Ground Beef (90%)
  • ¼ Onion, Chopped
  • 2 Tbsp. Tomato Paste, Unsalted
  • 2 Tbsp. Ketchup
  • Worcestershire Sauce (To Taste)

Instructions:

  1. Heat a non-stick skillet over medium-high heat.
  2. Add beef and onion, stirring until browned.
  3. Add in tomato paste, ketchup and Worcestershire sauce and mix thoroughly.
  4. Reduce heat to medium and cook for 6 – 8 more minutes until cooked fully.
  5. Serve with tortilla chips.

Nutrition: Calories: 405 | Fat: 23 grams | Carbs: 24.8 grams | Protein: 37.5 grams


GIVE THESE POST-WORKOUT MEALS A TRY!

Don’t let all your hard work at the gym go to waste.

Make sure you feed your body with all the nutrients and fuel it needs to recover. Doing so will help you feel better post-workout and help you achieve your goals.

Do you have a go-to post-workout meal?

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Elyssa Duncan

Elyssa Duncan

Hi there, I’m Elyssa. Lover of healthy living, laughter and all things adventurous.
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