The food you eat after your daily sweat session is arguably the most important meal you’ll eat all day. When you’ve finished working out, regardless of what time of the day you hit the gym, your body is in recovery mode. This means it’s important to eat a post-workout meal that mixes muscle-building protein with energy-filled carbohydrates. When you’ve finished a session, you should aim to eat within two hours to help your muscles recover and ensure you reap the full benefits of your workout, according to the Mayo Clinic. Looking for a few tasty meals to enjoy after you hit the gym? Here are five healthy recipes that fuel your body by providing it with plenty of powerful proteins and re-energizing carbs.
1. Banana-Kefir Smoothie
Drinking kefir is a great way to get a hearty serving of protein. Just one cup of kefir contains 11 to 14 grams of complete protein, which helps your body maintain lean muscle mass and speed up weight loss, according to BuzzFeed. This What’s On The Plate recipe is a delicious and nutritious breakfast to make for mornings when you don’t have a lot of time. It yields 2 servings, with each containing 291 calories, 13 grams of protein, and 58 grams of carbs.
- 3 bananas
- 2 cups kefir
- 1 tablespoon sugar
Directions: Put all ingredients in a blender and process. Serve chilled.
2. Smoked Mozzarella, Spinach, and Pepper Omelet Sandwiches
Cooking Light’s omelet sandwich is a perfect post-workout morning meal. You’ll get protein from the egg yolk and whites, and the cheese and veggies will help your body recharge. The recipe yields 4 servings.
- 2 tablespoons fat-free milk
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- ¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 6 large egg whites
- 3 large eggs
- Dash of hot pepper sauce
- Cooking spray
- 1 cup finely diced red bell pepper
- ¾ cup pre-chopped onion
- 4 sourdough English muffins, split
- ½ cup (2 ounces) shredded smoked mozzarella cheese
- 1½ cups bagged baby spinach leaves
Directions: Preheat broiler. Combine first six ingredients in a large bowl, stirring with a whisk until combined; set aside. Heat a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Coat pan with cooking spray. Add bell pepper and onion; sauté 4 minutes or until tender. Reduce heat to medium. Pour egg mixture into pan; let egg mixture set slightly. Tilt pan; carefully lift edges of omelet with a spatula to allow uncooked portion to flow underneath cooked portion.
Cook 3 minutes. Wrap handle of pan with foil; place pan under broiler. Broil 1 minute or until set and lightly browned. Arrange muffin halves in a single layer on a baking sheet. Sprinkle muffin halves evenly with cheese and broil 1 minute or until cheese begins to brown. Divide omelet into 4 portions; place 1 portion on bottom half of each muffin. Top evenly with spinach leaves; top with remaining muffin halves.
3. Quinoa Salad with Dried Apricots and Baby Spinach
This spicy salad is another great post-workout lunch option. You can prepare Eating Well’s recipe ahead of time, making it a dish you can easily bring to work. The recipe yields 4 servings with each containing 446 calories, 12 grams of protein, and 50 grams of carbs.
Moroccan-Spiced Lemon Dressing
- ¼ cup lemon juice
- 2 tablespoons nonfat plain yogurt
- 1½ teaspoons honey
- ¼ teaspoon ground cumin
- ¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon
- ¼ teaspoon ground ginger
- ¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil
- ¼ teaspoon salt, or to taste
- Freshly ground pepper, to taste
- 1 cup quinoa
- 2 teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- ½ cup dried apricots, coarsely chopped
- 2 cups water
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- ⅔ Moroccan-spiced lemon dressing, divided
- 1 cup cherry tomatoes or grape tomatoes, halved
- 1 small red onion, chopped
- 8 cups baby spinach
- ¼ cup sliced almonds, toasted
Directions: To prepare dressing, whisk lemon juice, yogurt, honey, cumin, cinnamon, and ginger in a small bowl until blended. Slowly whisk in ¼ cup oil so the dressing becomes smooth and emulsified. Season with salt and pepper. To prepare salad, toast quinoa in a dry skillet over medium heat, stirring often, until it becomes aromatic and begins to crackle, about 5 minutes. Transfer to a fine sieve and rinse thoroughly. Heat 2 teaspoons oil in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Add garlic and cook, stirring constantly, until golden, about 1 minute. Add apricots and the quinoa; continue cooking, stirring often, until the quinoa has dried out and turns light golden, 3 to 4 minutes.
Add water and salt; bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer, uncovered, until the quinoa is tender and the liquid is absorbed, 15 to 18 minutes. Transfer the quinoa to a medium bowl and toss with ⅓ cup of the dressing. Let cool for 10 minutes. Just before serving, add tomatoes and onion to the quinoa; toss to coat. Toss spinach with the remaining ⅓ cup dressing in a large bowl. Divide the spinach among 4 plates. Mound the quinoa salad on the spinach and sprinkle with almonds.
4. Herb-Stuffed Leg of Lamb
If your daily sweat session is toward the end of the day, you’ll want a dinner that is able to deliver you the right post-workout nutrients. Men’s Fitness suggests this low-fat, protein-rich recipe which contains about 23 grams of protein per 3-ounce serving.
- 1 (4-pound) boneless leg of lamb
- 1 tablespoon chopped parsley
- 1 teaspoon chopped oregano
- 1 teaspoon chopped thyme
- Salt and pepper, to taste
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 2 tablespoons butter
Directions: Preheat oven to 425 degrees Fahrenheit. Open lamb and sprinkle with the herbs, and then tie. Season outside of the lamb with salt and pepper to taste. Place a large roasting pan over high heat, add oil, and heat until just before smoking. Add lamb and sear all sides until well-browned, about 15 to 20 minutes. After it is seared, add butter and brown. Baste the leg and place in the oven. After about 8 minutes, turn and baste the leg. Repeat two times. Cook an additional 8 minutes to get to medium-rare. Cook longer if you would like medium to well. Remove roast from pan and let sit at least 15 minutes before slicing.
5. Grilled BBQ Chicken Flatbreads
If you’re craving pizza but still want a healthy meal that’s high in protein, try preparing this SparkRecipes dish for dinner. The recipe yields 4 servings with each containing 233 calories and 26 grams of protein.
- 2 flatbreads, store-bought or homemade
- 1 red onion, sliced (about 1 cup)
- 1 yellow or red bell pepper, sliced (about 1 cup)
- Pinch of black pepper
- 12 ounces boneless, skinless chicken breast
- ¼ cup barbecue sauce
- 1 tablespoon pineapple juice
- ¼ cup chopped pineapple, packed in juice
- ¼ cup shredded Monterey Jack
- 2 slices Canadian bacon, chopped
Directions: Preheat grill to 500 degrees Fahrenheit. Place the onions and peppers on a grill tray or on a large sheet of heavy-duty foil, then sprinkle on the pepper. Coat both sides of the chicken with cooking spray. Transfer the vegetables and chicken to the grill. Cook the chicken 3 or 4 minutes per side, until the inside reaches 165 degrees Fahrenheit. Remove the chicken and veggies from the grill, then lower the heat to 400 degrees Fahrenheit. Transfer the chicken to a clean cutting board and cut into bite-size pieces.
Add the grilled veggies, barbecue sauce, and pineapple juice to a blender and pulse until it forms a chunky sauce. Place the flatbreads on a pizza stone, pizza screen, or the bottom of a baking sheet prepped with nonstick spray. Spread ½ cup sauce on each flatbread and top with the chicken, cheese, pineapple, and Canadian bacon and place on the grill. Close the lid and cook for about 10 minutes, until the cheese has melted. Remove from heat. Cool slightly before slicing and serving.