This article not only provides healthy nutritional alternatives, but tips on which foods are best before and after a workout.
Before your workout, your body needs calories. Not just any old calories, not empty calories, but calories that will fuel your workout with energy. After your workout, your muscles need replenishment, so it’s just as important to eat not long after exercise.
The following recipes contain essential nutrients: Protein, fat, and carbohydrates. They are not only delicious and nutritious, these recipes will help you burn fat and gain lean mass. Not to mention, they are filling, easy, and don’t require a lot or prep time.
1. 15-Minute Tex-Mex Chicken Salad
Got 15 minutes? This is a great post-workout meal. It contains Omega-3 oil, protein, potassium, carbohydrates and a host of other nutrients to help replenish those lost during exercise. This Tex-Mex Chicken Salad is courtesy of Registered Dietician Matthew Kadey.
Check out the recipe here: 15-Minute Tex-Mex Chicken Salad, Muscle & Fitness
2. Chocolate Chia Recovery Drink
Think about it. Our bodies lose a lot of water during exercise, leaving us dehydrated. And what’s one of the natural supplements to replace lost electrolytes? Coconut water.
After a spin class, Crossfit, or HIIT, a Chocolate Chia Recovery Drink is perfect. Chia seeds are full of “good” carbs, mostly fiber, which means your body digests them slowly, keeping your hunger at bay. Bananas contain potassium which helps to curtail muscle cramps. Just blend and go!
Here’s the recipe from the “Minimalist Baker:” Chocolate Chia Recovery Drink
3. Blueberry-Almond Overnight Oats
Let’s face it, getting to the gym is hard enough. Who has time to muster up all kinds of ingredients, cook, and consume? Prepare Blueberry-Almond Overnight Oats. Full of fiber, protein and complex carbohydrates, this filling meal awaits you in the morning.
The antioxidants in the blueberries will help kick up and spit out free radicals that exists in the body, making way for smooth cellular activity. Prep time: Five minutes!
Here you go: Blueberry-Almond Overnight Oats
4. Asian Jalapeno Chicken
Boost your metabolism! Spicy foods are great for speeding up your metabolism. They contain the almighty chemical, capsaicin, which will shift your body – and weight loss – into high gear!
If you can take the heat, get this perfect combination of protein and spiciness here: Damn Delicious Asian Jalapeno Chicken
5. Fat-Burning Chef Salad
Getting lean can require a lot of discipline for some people, but when you eat tasty foods, like eggs, smoked turkey, and an abundance of greens, your goal is more attainable.
Certain foods have fat-burning properties, such as turkey breast, tomatoes, celery, broccoli, blueberries, grapefruit, apples, onion, raw vegetables, and many others. Whether you’re getting in shape for a wedding or the beach, this salad will get you ready!
Check out the recipe here: Fat-Burning Chef Salad
6. High-Protein Chicken Meatballs
Protein shakes aren’t the only way to put on mass. It’s always preferable to consume real food as the body digests these more efficiently.
High-protein meals are best for gaining muscle mass, so if you want to get buffed or toned, a combination of protein, complex carbs, and heavy weight-training will get you there. Get the recipe, then get to the gym!
Here’s the recipe: High Protein Chicken Meatballs Recipe
7. Peanut Butter Banana Bulking Protein Shake
If you do, however, enjoy the convenience of a protein shake, make your own.
While it’s tempting to grab a protein bar or ready-to-drink protein shake, these usually contain ingredients which classify them as inflammatory foods. Unless you want to be bloated, steer clear.
This Peanut Butter Banana Bulking Protein Shake has a whopping 58 grams of protein, it’s a powerful source of fuel for athletes, and it tastes incredible!
Here’s the recipe: Peanut Butter Banana Bulking Protein Shake Recipe
8. The Best Protein Brownies
Not a quick recipe but worth the wait, these melt-in-your-mouth brownies provide just the right amount of protein and “good carbs,” not to mention decadent dark chocolate.
So, if you’re the type who skips dessert due to guilt, you can enjoy these brownies with a clear conscience. Don’t forget to complement them with a nice cold glass of unsweetened almond milk.
For The Best Protein Brownies, go here: The Best Protein Brownies
9. Trainer Terri’s Light ‘N Healthy Chinese Vegetable Fried Rice
Yours truly loves Chinese Fried Rice so I came up with a way to remove all of the oily fats and sodium that are typical of this dish while maintaining the flavor. It’s packed with vegetables and healthy carbs, so if you need a little energy before your workout.
Try my recipe here: Light ‘n Healthy Chinese Fried Rice
10. Stuffed Bell Peppers with Turkey and Vegetables
Vitamins A and C are your friends when it comes to maintaining healthy immune system, and bell peppers contain them both.
This recipe for stuffed bell peppers is the complete package, with protein, vitamins, metabolism-boosters, Omega-3 oil, antioxidants, and potassium.
Check it out here: Stuffed Peppers with Turkey and Vegetables
11. Skillet Chicken with Cranberries & Apples
Not getting enough fiber in your diet? If you’re irregular or you often feel hungry, it could be that your body isn’t getting enough of this much-needed nutrient.
Soluble fiber, like oats, beans, barley, and even Brussel sprouts digest slowly which keep you from feeling hungry. You are sure to cut back on grazing throughout your day when you incorporate more fiber into your diet. Happy eating!
Here’s the recipe: Skillet Chicken with Cranberries & Apples
12. Herby Pea and Lemon Pasta Salad
Big on carbs? Try this wonderful medley of green peas, pasta shells, and rotisserie chicken and you’ll be in carbohydrate heaven.
Loaded with B vitamins, the green peas will serve as good source of energy. This recipe yields four servings so you’ll have plenty left over for your lunchtime meal at work.
Here’s the recipe: Herby Pea and Lemon Pasta Salad
13. No-Cook Chicken Lettuce Wraps
Not in the mood for carbs? Try these low-carb chicken lettuce wraps that have fewer than 8 grams of carbohydrates.
With minimal prep, this meal is great when you don’t feel like cooking. Kids will be so focused on the chicken they’ll forget that it is wrapped in a vegetable.
Get the recipe here: No-Cook Chicken Lettuce Wraps
14. Turmeric Tomato Detox Soup
In the winter months, instead of seeking out a good soup at a restaurant, you can have soup du jour in your own home!
Rather than use drugs, like Ibuprofen, turmeric is a natural source of relief to alleviate inflammation in joints and muscles. This anti-inflammatory-detox soup is perfect when snuggling under a blanket while watching a movie.
Get the recipe here: Turmeric Tomato Detox Soup
15. Almond Snowballs
The holidays just aren’t the same without cookies. These Almond Snowballs are yummy as an after-dinner dessert or to share at office holiday parties, or even as a reward after your workout.
This recipe calls for all-purpose flour, a refined carbohydrate, and sugar, both of which have a high glycemic index, causing your blood sugar to spike. These ingredients can be substituted with almond flour which is high in healthy fats and fiber, and Stevia, a sweetener that has zero calories and is plant-based.
Get Rachael Ray’s recipe: Almond Snowballs
16. Avo-Tahini Toast
Avocado toast has become a healthy trend that is now popularly-featured on restaurant menus.
It only takes four minutes to prepare, unless you add the boiled eggs, which could take another ten minutes but will add protein to this toasty treat.
The Omega-3 fat from the avocado and the fiber from the whole grain bread will leave you satisfied and full. A great pre-workout meal!
Get the recipe here: Avo-Tahini Toast
17. Salmon Salad Sandwich
You’ll look at a fish sandwich differently with this 15-minute meal. Perfect for lunch, this high-protein, high-fiber, Omega-3-rich Salmon Salad sandwich serves four, which is great for a small luncheon with friends.
You can even serve them as hors d’oeuvres for a dinner party by cutting the sandwiches into fourths and pin them together with toothpicks.
Get the recipe here: Salmon Salad Sandwich
It is important to consume the aforementioned nutrient-based meals 45 minutes to an hour, both before and after your workout. If not, your body will use muscle for fuel instead of nutrients and, ultimately, you will lose lean muscle mass and become flabby.
There is also the risk of getting light-headed and fainting due to low blood sugar as well as poor brain function, nausea, and, of course, you won’t achieve optimal exercise performance.((Livestrong: What Happens if I Workout Without Eating?))