If you find yourself plopping down on the couch, cracking open a Diet Coke and a box of Cheez-Its and enjoying some “well-deserved” downtime after a hardcore workout, it might be time for a little wake-up call. What you just did was undo most of that hard work you just exerted at the gym.
Protein and carbs are the two keys to a good post-workout meal. Eggs have the former covered. At just 70 calories each, eggs pack 6.3 grams of protein and are one of the few foods that naturally contain vitamin D.
Also, don’t let the Rocky movies fool you; raw eggs have no advantages over cooked ones. In fact, cooking eggs allows your body to absorb almost twice the amount of protein.
For your dose of carbs, brown rice is fine, but it can’t compete with all the vitamins and nutrients found in quinoa (pronounced “keen-wah”). It also contains far more protein and fiber than brown rice, and requires less time to prepare.
Instead of a Gatorade, grab a glass of OJ. In addition to vitamin C, you’ll also get significantly more potassium than you would from popular sports drinks, which are generally intended for use during extended exercise, not after.
Potassium is an important electrolyte that helps the body restore its fluid levels. Orange juice also works well for protein shakes.
Kefir, a fermented milk drink made from probiotic bacteria, has been growing in popularity, and rightfully so. Just one cup of kefir contains 11–14 grams of “complete proteins,” which don’t occur naturally in the body.
Dairy proteins are especially helpful for maintaining lean muscle mass and speeding up weight loss. While its tangy flavor may take some getting used to, it mixes well with fruit, cereal and whey protein.
Bananas are high in the “good” kinds of carbs you need after a workout. These fast-acting carbs will help restore your body’s levels of glycogen, which helps rebuild damaged muscles. And they provide lots of wonderful potassium.
Not only will you get a large dose of protein, but the anti-inflammatory omega-3s found in salmon will help rebuild your muscles and increase performance.
These little guys give your body a huge antioxidant boost. In fact, studies show that blueberries can triple your rate of recovery after intense workouts.
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