The post-workout meal is just as important as the workout itself. All the muscle fiber tears you worked so hard on in the gym are ready to be repaired with new muscle tissue, but you need the right nutrition balance to get it done properly.
There’s nothing more important to the “gains” phase than the perfect balance of macros to take in after a serious lifting session. Know what you need and have it prepared before you start your workout so that it’s ready to down as soon as you’re done.
The perfect post-workout meal has a fat, carb, and protein component. Every guy is different, so do some research to find the right macro balance for your body. Generally speaking though, your pre- and post-workout meals will have the highest carb intake compared to any of your other meals in the day. Here are five quick and simple post-workout meal options—just play around with the amounts to fit them within your macros.
The Perfect Protein Shake
This is a power-packed smoothie with real benefits, perfect for the guy who’s on a tight schedule or who works out in the morning before work. Just toss all of the below ingredients into a blender and you’re good to go.
• Banana: This is a great carb source with plenty of vitamins to help replenish what you’ve sweat out.
• Protein Powder: Get a good quality powder. Some brands include more fillers than anything, so look for one that gives you 26 g to 30 g of protein per scoop.
• Nut butter: This is going to help replenish sodium after a good sweat session. It’s also a quality fat source to help satiate you. If you’re not into peanut butter, try almond butter instead.
Add ice and water if you want, or use frozen banana for extra richness.
Chicken, Sweet Potato, and Cheese
This is a well-balanced meal, perfect for a post-workout lunch or dinner. To save time, bake a batch of chicken breast at the beginning of the week and then freeze them so that all you need to do is stick them in the microwave or oven for a few minutes.
• Chicken: It’s an ideal source of lean protein and provides an adequate amount of sodium. Season your chicken breast with mixed herbs and black pepper to add some flavor without adding excess sodium.
• Sweet Potato: This carb is an excellent source of vitamins A and C, manganese, copper, potassium, and important antioxidants. Preparation is key though—in other words, sweet potato fries don’t count. Bake your sweet potato in the oven instead.
• Cheese: A soft, low-fat wedge is your best bet, because they contain a good amount of fat and protein.
Beef and Broccoli
If red meat is more your thing, you might prefer this combination instead. It’s still got all of the components your body needs for recovering after a solid workout.
• Lean cut of beef: This is your protein and fat source. Just make sure it’s a really lean cut—season it however you want (can’t go wrong with Montreal steak spice) and throw it on the grill.
• Broccoli: This supplements your protein with the right proportion of carbs, plus vitamins K and C, folate, fiber, and even protein, so it fills you up. Get rid of the stems, which are harder to digest, and steam the florets. Season them with extra virgin olive oil (your healthy fat component) and lemon juice.
For an easy switch-up, use that chicken from the first meal to make this super healthy, Starbucks-worthy wrap.
• Chicken: Again, this is your lean protein.
• Flaxseed wrap: This is your fat and carb component. Look for flaxseed combined with whole grains (not multi-grain) and actually read the nutrition label to make sure it has sufficient fat and high protein.
• Green veggies: Pick whatever you like. Green peppers, spinach, kale, and arugula are all good choices.
• Fresh avocado mayo: It’s easier than it sounds—mash an avocado (your essential, healthy fat component) with lime juice, chopped cilantro, and a dash of salt.
Salmon with Salad
• Salmon: Baked, grilled, or broiled—no matter how you make it, salmon will provide you with the protein you need. It also contains omega-3 fatty acids, which covers your fat component.
• Veggies: Since this is your primary carb source for this meal, you can afford to pick sweeter, carb-heavy vegetables, like carrots, peas, corn, winter squash, and beans. Just ease up on the salt and seasoning. Also be conscious of any fat you add in the cooking process, because the salmon is already a high fat source on its own.