Busy schedules make it hard to get anything to eat after exercising, much less cook something complicated. It might not seem like a big deal to put off getting something in your stomach, but your body is practically crying for nutrients after expending so much energy. Breaking Muscle explained your body is most able to absorb nutrients from foods immediately after exercise, which means you’ll be able to recover that much faster. Waiting any longer than about an hour before grabbing something to eat may compromise your next workout.
You might be tempted to grab something from a convenience store, but not all foods are created equal when it comes to fueling a tired body. Men’s Fitness said fast food will just slow your digestion since it’s so fatty, and sweet treats like candy and pastries offer little more than sugar. Even going with raw veggies isn’t a good option, because they aren’t nearly substantial enough. You need to focus on a mix of carbohydrates and protein, but a slice of whole-wheat bread with peanut butter definitely gets old after a few weeks. Thankfully, you don’t need tons of time or components to make something satisfying. These five easy recipes are fast and only require five ingredients. Try one of these mini-meals, and your next workout will be better than ever.
1. Tropical Protein Smoothie
After particularly challenging workouts, eating something might be the last thing you want to do. Exercise diverts bloodflow away from your stomach, which slows digestion and typically makes it more difficult to eat right after a workout. Bodybuilding.com said liquid meals are a great option since they’re easier for your body to process. This tropical protein smoothie from Real Food & Ice Cream is one of the tastiest ways to make sure you’re getting the right fuel.
Plenty of commercial protein shakes offer the same nutrition, but it can be hard to tell exactly what all of those ingredients are. If you’re avoiding soy or dislike protein powders, this recipe is definitely the way to go. You’ll get plenty of vitamins, minerals, and carbohydrates from the fruit, and the cottage cheese supplies protein and calcium.
- ½ cup pineapple juice
- ½ cup 2% cottage cheese
- ¼ cup baby carrots
- ½ cup frozen mango
- 1 medium banana
Directions: Add pineapple juice, cottage cheese, and carrots to a blender. Blend until carrot is smooth.
Add mango and banana. Blend until smooth. Serve.
2. Simple Sloppy Joe
Hitting the gym after a day at the office usually means it’s starting to get late by the time you walk through your front door. Grabbing takeout or dialing for delivery might be tempting, but most of that food is going to be greasy and hard to digest. This super fast sloppy Joe recipe from Men’s Health comes together in just minutes with ingredients you probably have on hand.
With 59 grams of carbohydrates and 42 grams of protein, this sandwich delivers the optimal fuel to help your muscles recover. You’ll even get a fair amount of fiber if you opt for a sprouted-grain bun. While this recipe is great with just five ingredients, you can add some other seasonings to jazz it up.
- 5 ounces (90% lean) ground beef
- ½ cup chopped onion
- 2 tablespoons tomato paste
- 3 tablespoons ketchup
- 1 sprouted-grain bun
- Worcestershire sauce
Directions: Place a medium nonstick pan over medium-high heat. Add beef and onion, and stir with a spatula until mixture has browned.
Add tomato paste and ketchup. Stir in pepper and Worcestershire sauce, if using. Stir to combine, and reduce heat to medium. Cook 5 to 7 minutes, until beef is fully cooked. Spoon onto bun.
3. 5-Ingredient Protein Bars
The easiest way to make sure you have something to eat after a workout is to toss a protein bar into your gym bag. Packaged ones are certainly convenient, but most of them are glorified candy bars. Lean it UP illustrated how many options are mostly sugar and have ingredient lists as long as an essay. While there are some good options out there, you’re better off making some at home. Chew Out Loud’s healthy bars taste just like a peanut butter cookie, but they’re even easier to make.
Melt the peanut butter, honey, and milk over the stove, then stir in the dry ingredients. Press the mixture into a pan, and let it set. Though these bars are great the way they are, a drizzle of melted chocolate makes them even more delicious. And according to Men’s Fitness, a little bit of the dark stuff will give you loads of antioxidants and support heart health.
- ½ cup milk, plus more
- 1 cup crunchy peanut butter
- 2 to 3 tablespoons honey
- 1¼ cups vanilla whey protein powder
- 2 cups old-fashioned rolled oats
- Melted dark chocolate
Directions: In a medium saucepan, combine milk, peanut butter, and honey over low heat. Stir until melted and ingredients are combined. Add protein powder and oats. Stir to combine. Thin with milk, if necessary.
Grease an 8-by-8-inch pan. Press mixture evenly into pan, maing sure to compact. Allow to cool. Cut into squares. Drizzle with chocolate, if desired. Let chocolate set. Store in an airtight container at room temperature for up to one week.
4. Egg Tacos
Just because you’re focusing on nutrition after hitting the gym doesn’t mean you have to sacrifice flavor. Whip up Prevention’s egg tacos for a spicy and satisfying way to help your body heal. This dish is also versatile enough to work any time of day. You can also play around with different salsas and cheeses to make this go-to interesting enough to work into your regular routine.
- ¼ small red onion
- 4 large eggs, plus 2 large egg whites
- 2 corn tortillas
- Grated cheddar cheese
- Green salsa
Directions: Thinly slice onion. Warm a drizzle of olive oil in a small skillet over medium-low heat. Beat eggs and whites, and season with salt and pepper. Add to skillet. Cook eggs, stirring constantly, until softly scrambled, about 4 minutes.
Place a warmed tortilla on each of two plates. Spoon eggs onto each, then top with cheese, salsa, and onion. Serve.
5. 5-Minute Turkey Roll-Ups
This fast turkey wrap from Savoring Spoon is a perfect mini-meal when you just have a few minutes to drop off your workout gear before heading out for the night. It manages to pack loads of flavor with minimal ingredients thanks to a smear of sweet bean sauce. Made from fermented soybeans, the purée is easy to find at any Asian grocery store.
No turkey on hand? Try this wrap using shredded rotisserie chicken or leftover roasted pork. If you’re not a huge fan of raw onion flavor, swap some shredded carrots or sprouts for the scallions. And feel free to tuck in any of your other favorite veggies.
- ¼ cup chopped or shredded turkey
- 1 teaspoon sweet bean sauce
- 2 scallion whites, thinly sliced
- ½ cup cucumber matchsticks
- 1 tortilla or flatbread
Directions: Spread bean sauce on tortilla. Add shredded cucumber, scallions, and turkey. Roll, and serve.