Post workout nutrition represents one of the most important meals and Lindsey Becker, certified health coach and fitness chef is here to help us get in the right habits after a grueling session at the House…
What’s the importance of the right meal post class?
Consuming the necessary nutrients shortly after exerting your body can help replenish energy stores, build muscle, decrease soreness, burn fat, and repair any damage or inflammation. The longer you wait to refuel, the less efficient your body becomes at putting these nutrients to work. It’s important to consume quality carbohydrates to refuel your glycogen stores in preparation for your next workout while also taking in protein to repair and rebuild your muscles.
A lot of us are busy New Yorkers on the run. If we’re pressed on time after class, what’s the ideal post workout meal that’s quick and easy to prepare?
For a quick and easy breakfast post-workout, make a bowl of savory oatmeal topped with two hard boiled eggs, sliced avocado, hemp seeds and sautéed spinach (pro tip: prep the spinach and eggs beforehand to save time). This dish contains all the complex carbs and protein you need. Avocados have healthy monounsaturated fats and potassium, which help reduce abdominal fat and replenish your electrolyte balance, hemp seeds and eggs provide extra protein, and iron from the spinach will aid in the delivery of oxygen to your muscles post-workout.
For lunch or dinner, I recommend chipotle turkey burger sliders served between two thick slices of roasted sweet potato rounds instead of burger buns. Try seasoning the sweet potatoes with chili powder, which contains capsaicin and helps burn fat. These sliders also last in the refrigerator and are easy to take with you if you are hungry after a workout later in the week.
Don’t have time to cook? Grab a healthy snack such as a protein-rich smoothie, an apple or banana with almond butter and chia seeds, or greek yogurt with organic berries.
And the ideal post workout meal you suggest if we have more time?
For those with more time to prep a delicious post-workout meal, one of my favorites is wild salmon with roasted asparagus, walnut parsley gremolata, and quinoa. Wild salmon is rich in protein and research suggests that omega-3 fatty acids may reduce post workout inflammation. Also, asparagus is a good source of potassium, iron, fiber, and protein, while quinoa provides plenty of complex carbohydrates. This dish is very simple to make! Here’s the recipe:
- Heat the oven to 425°F. Rinse a 6-8 oz piece of wild salmon and pat dry. Place the salmon skin side down on a foil-lined sheet tray. Drizzle 1 tsp. olive oil over the top of the filet and spread it evenly across the fish using the back of a spoon. Toss 1 bunch of trimmed asparagus with ½ Tbsp. olive oil and place it on the tray around the fish. Season the fish and vegetables with salt and pepper and roast 9-12 minutes for medium depending on thickness of fillet. After it is cooked, slide a spatula between the skin and the flesh, lifting the fish off the tray and leaving the skin behind. Remove the foil and cleanup is done!
- For the gremolata, combine ¼ cup chopped parsley, ¼ cup chopped walnuts, ½ clove of grated garlic, the zest of ½ a lemon, ½ Tbsp. lemon juice, and 1 Tbsp. olive oil in a medium bowl. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
- Spoon the gremolata on top of the salmon and asparagus and serve with prepared quinoa.
Is there a post workout smoothie you suggest that can be quickly and easily prepared?
One of my easy go-to post-workout smoothies is a cherry cacao chia combo. It contains cherries to reduce muscle soreness, bananas for the potassium/carbs to refuel, cacao for a killer source of antioxidants and magnesium, almond butter for a dose of protein and heart-healthy monounsaturated fats, spinach for iron, chia seeds for protein/fiber/omega-3s, and the optional spoonful of protein powder for those really intense workouts. Simply blend the ingredients and enjoy! Below is a sample smoothie recipe I really like:
- ½ cup frozen cherries
- 1 frozen banana
- 1 cup unsweetened almond milk
- 1 Tbsp. raw cacao powder
- 1 Tbsp. almond butter
- 1 Tbsp. chia seeds
- ½ cup spinach
- 1 Tbsp. protein powder (optional)
What are the top three ingredients athletes should include in post workout meals?
Salmon, sweet potatoes, and cherries. Wild salmon provides a large dose of protein and anti-inflammatory omega-3s to rebuild your muscles and increase performance. Sweet potatoes provide a healthy dose of complex carbs, potassium, antioxidants, and fiber. Antioxidant-rich cherries have many anti-inflammatory properties, which relieve muscle soreness and aid in muscle recovery, allowing your muscles to grow back bigger and stronger than before.
Sugar has a pretty bad reputation. Is it something we should avoid including in our post workout meal?
Yes! I always avoid sugar. Refined sugar has absolutely zero nutritional benefit. You can get the nutrients you need from fruits, grains, vegetables, legumes, nuts, and seeds while also giving your body a variety of vitamins and minerals that are better for you and help with your post-workout recovery.
One key takeaway you want athletes to keep in mind when it comes to post workout meal prep…
It’s not about quantity—it’s about quality. When consuming the protein and carbohydrates you need after your workout, stick to organic whenever possible and stay away from processed and refined foods. Incorporating these ingredients into simple and easy recipes can make your post-workout meals healthy, nutritious, and delicious all at once!