Whether you put yourself through a low-impact cardio workout, a high intensity class, supersets or heavy strength training, a girl's got to eat! You might not have much of an appetite after all the bouncing around you just did, or maybe you're quickly becoming hangry and ready to grab anything in sight. Have food ready to go following your workout so you don't fall victim to the junk food or the meal skippage.
Refuel your muscles and prep the body for recovery by getting your post-workout nutrients within 30 minutes of wrapping up your cool-down. If you wait longer, your body will start to turn on itself, pulling resources from within instead of from food, supplements and outside nutrients to begin repairing the muscles and reloading the energy bar. This might mean having a protein shake on hand, ready to go if you have a long drive home from the gym or have to run to pick up the kids.
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Make these food groups a priority once you get home: protein, veggies and whole grains with good carbs. Your post-workout meal should reflect the workout equation. If you're using proteins, essential vitamins and carbs to fuel your body through a workout, then you will need to replace what you used, or at least most of it. Avoid sugary bars and drinks, fatty foods (dishes topped with cheese or cream-based sauces) and get the portions right. Too much whole food protein will slow down the digestion, leaving you feeling heavy and sluggish and possibly allowing more time for your system to store fats or create gases from other foods. Here are a few ideas of dinners you can quickly prep or have ready for you when yourself the second you drop the gym bag at the door:
Quick Shrimp Stir Fry: With 16 grams of protein per serving, you can have this ready in 15 minutes. Don't like shrimp? Sub with chicken instead — diced, baked, shredded — however you prefer it. Get the recipe here.
Steak Fajita Pita: Mix in your favorite peppers with slim cuts of steak and avocado for healthy fats. In about 20 minutes, you'll be stuffing your face and refueling your body with a tasty solution dinner. Pre-cook the meat and sauté the veggies ahead of time for a quick re-heat. No pita? Throw that combo into a bowl and go after it. Get the recipe here.
Copycat Chipotle® Barbacoa Bowl: Put the slow cooker to work for you! Toss in the beef into the pot in the morning before you head out, then set out your favorite quick-ready rice or quinoa to heat so all you have to do is serve the meat, beans and veggies in a layered gift to yourself. You'll be thinking about it all day! Get started on the recipe here.
Protein-Packed Huevos Rancheros: Who said you can't have breakfast for dinner? Any time you can top your meal with an egg, you've made a great decision. Spice up your palate in less than 20 minutes with a Mexican-inspired dish with 16 grams of protein per serving, 10 grams of fiber and only 2 grams of sugar. Hola, get in my belly! Get the recipe here.
Other than your protein shake, you can have several snacks on hand to help you stay on top of your game after your workout. Click here to six easy go-to options you can toss into a plastic baggy or chilled lunchbox. See a preview below with veggies and homemade hummus: