Want to get the most out of your workouts? Perform better? Build more muscle? Try these options below that have the right blend of protein and carbs to provide your body with what you need at the right time.
The rules of muscle recovery come down to 3 Rs: rehydrate, refuel and rebuild. Drinking beverages helps to replace the fluids lost from sweat, refueling begins with carbohydrates that are burned during exercise and amino acids from quality products help repair and rebuild muscle tissue.
As a general rule, try to get 15-25 grams of quality protein with 0.5 to 0.7 grams of carbohydrate per pound of body weight immediately post-exercise. As a general rule, getting protein and carbs within the first 30 minutes to an hour after exercise when the amino acids and carbs are most effective to enhance recovery.
Low-fat Chocolate Milk
Your first goal when recovering is restoring proper fluid balance within your body. Even being modestly dehydrated can reduce peak performance and your metabolic rate. Since muscles are comprised of about 75 percent water by weight, getting fluids back into your body should be your first goal. The American College of Sports Medicine recommends drinking 16 to 24 ounces of fluids for every pound lost during exercise. Chocolate milk is a great option because it provides both carbs and quality protein but other beverages like fruit smoothies (with a scoop of protein powder) or milkshakes are options too.
Cottage Cheese with Fruit
Cottage cheese has one of the best protein-to-calorie ratios, packing in about 25 grams of protein for a 200-calorie serving and plain cottage cheese has no added sugars. What’s more, cottage cheese has more leucine than any other food. Leucine is a branch chain amino acid that is considered the most important for repairing and building muscle. Enjoy your cottage cheese with fresh fruit to boost the carbohydrates needed to restore your muscle glycogen stores.
Whole-Wheat Toast with Fruit and Nut Butter with Milk
Bananas are one of the most popular fruits of athletes. Their readily digestible carbohydrate helps replenish your muscles’ glycogen stores while elevating insulin which helps shuttle amino acids into muscle tissue. Try two slices of whole-wheat bread toasted and top each slice with one and one-half teaspoons of nut butter and half of a banana. Partner with a glass of milk to get at least 20 grams of protein.
Greek Yogurt Parfait
Greek yogurt is strained so it has about twice as much protein and half the sugar of traditional yogurts. For overall health, plain Greek yogurt is generally recommended to keep added sugars in check, but when you’re trying to rebuild post-exercise, it’s the time to enjoy a sweetened Greek yogurt to get the simple carbohydrates your muscles crave.
A one-cup serving of plain Greek yogurt has about 130 calories and 23 grams of protein. Make a parfait with one cup of Greek yogurt, one cup of fresh or frozen berries, one to two teaspoons of honey (or maple syrup) and a half-cup of raw quick-cooking oats. The fruit and oats both are antioxidant rich to help reduce the inflammation associated with exhaustive exercise.