Recover from exercising with meals that combine the right balance of protein and carbohydrates. By Dana Angelo White, MS, RD, ACT/L
Refuel and Recover
What you eat after a workout matters! No matter what time of day you exercise, the key is to follow up with meals that combine protein, which helps your muscles recover, and carbohydrates, which replenish energy stores. For best results, eat within 30 to 60 minutes after exercise, when muscles are most receptive. During this window, an increase in enzyme activity makes the body more efficient at storing glucose for energy and building protein in fatigued muscles.
Homemade Sports Recovery Drink
This combination of banana, milk, and yogurt makes for a fresh and satisfying sports recovery drink. Dairy products like milk and yogurt work double duty, providing both protein and carbohydrates. Bananas are packed with potassium and magnesium―powerful electrolytes for healthy muscle function. Have this smoothie for breakfast following a morning workout, or a small afternoon meal when you get in from the gym.
You can't go wrong with a sandwich after a workout―it's got everything in a hand-held package. Low-sodium cold cuts provide some salt to help replace what's lost in sweat during exercise. Tomatoes add freshness and a boost of vitamin C. You can easily substitute 100 percent whole wheat bread in this recipe to boost the fiber content. Grill it up ahead of time and pack for lunch, or whip it up in minutes for an easy weeknight dinner.
Grab and Go Granola
It's not always easy to eat 30 minutes after a workout. Granola is a great on-the-go snack. Leave some in your desk or glove box as a healthful alternative to vending machine food. Oats, honey, orange juice, and flax provide protein, carbs, and some healthy fat. Nuts and dried fruit contribute iron for healthy red blood cells. Mix this sweet and crunchy treat with low-fat yogurt, or enjoy by the handful. Just remember to exercise portion control, as this high-energy food is calorically dense.
An egg sandwich is a perfect post-workout breakfast. There's protein in both the yolk and the white of an egg, and this recipes uses a combination of the two to boost protein while keeping calories and fat under control. Eggs also contain zinc, which aids in metabolism and immunity, and vitamin B12, which supports cell production. Cheese and fresh veggies round out this meal to restore tired muscles and recharge your energy stores.