A workout is only as good as the fuel (food) given to the body. Eat well and you’ll get the best workout possible. Eat badly and without consideration for what you’re eating, and your workout will suck. After a workout, it’s best to feed your body with high-quality, nutritious food that will provide the greatest muscle gains and make muscle recovery quick and easy.
Here’s a Top 10 list of the best foods to eat after a workout.
Spinach and other green, leafy vegetables contain lots potassium, which is a micronutrient that helps prevent painful muscle cramps. While working out, the body sweats excessively and because of this, it loses potassium. Refill your potassium post-workout by eating spinach and other green, leafy vegetables – your body will thank you.
Is there any wonder why Popeye gains super-strength after eating spinach?
2. Greek Yogurt
Compared to regular yogurt, Greek yogurt has double the amount of protein and tastes amazing. It’s also a great source of carbohydrates – which are essential to the body immediately after a workout. Yogurt also contains probiotics that help to keep the body’s immune system strong.
Salmon is one of the best lean proteins to eat right after a workout. It’s not only low in fat and high in protein, but the omega-3 fatty acids in salmon help to fight inflammation. When inflammation hits, it can be slightly or very painful – and it can last for a day or more. Salmon will help to reduce this, so eating salmon a few times a week will boost your body’s recovery.
4. Sweet Potatoes
While drinking or eating protein after a workout builds muscle and helps with muscle recovery, without carbohydrates the protein you eat won’t reach its full potential. Carbohydrates help to restore glycogen in the body, which are depleted after a workout. Sweet potatoes are a starchy vegetable that contains carotene and vitamin C. They also taste great.
Okay, this one isn’t a food – but it’s extremely important! Drinking water throughout the day not only helps to make skin look fuller, and it doesn’t just make you feel better and even prevent headaches, but drinking water reduces DOMS (Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness). A heavy workout leaves the body sore the next day – but drinking water helps to reduce the soreness and improve the speed of recovery.
Eating almonds, peanuts, cashews and other nuts have been proven to have a positive effect on the body. Almonds are an excellent omega-6 fat source that aids muscle recovery from intense exercise. A study on trained cyclists who ate almonds every day for four weeks found that their performance increased by boosting energy. Walnuts, for example, are so nutrient-rich, they have anti-fatigue effects.
Eggs are an awesome protein source and they taste delicious! Eggs increase energy production, aid protein synthesis, and contain tons of vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants. They have also been linked to reducing inflammation.
8. Turmeric & Ginger
Next time when you’re cooking, grab a recipe that uses turmeric or ginger. Each individually or together help to reduce DOMS, contain anti-inflammatory properties, and help to accelerate muscle recovery. As a bonus, studies on turmeric have shown that it helps to prevent and aid in cancer treatments.
9. Coconut Water
All right, another drink in the list! What makes coconut water a great post-workout food? It contains tons of electrolytes that your body is hungry for after an intense workout. Coconut water also contains delicious carbohydrates that replenish the glycogen stores in your muscle. Next time you’re tempted to reach out for a Gatorade, grab a carton of coconut water. It’s better for you (no refined sugars!).
10. Whey Protein
Last but not least on the list, an obvious one: whey protein. Besides all the hundreds of thousands of scientific studies that prove eating protein after a workout promotes muscular hypertrophy (muscle gain), whey protein is the most superior post-workout protein source. Made from milk, it’s cheap, mixes into water or other liquids easily, and is digested by the body quickly. It contains tons of BCAA’s (Branched-chain Amino Acids) which help to build muscle and makes muscle recovery faster (so you feel better and ready to go). Nothing beats whey protein – and the isolate version is highly recommended!