Post-Workout Food Substitutes for Protein Powder

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Protein powder mixed into water, milk or a smoothie is a common recommendation for a post-workout meal. The amino acids in protein help your muscles repair and grow so you recover faster and become stronger. Meats, dairy and soy have similar amino acid profiles that can work just as well as protein powder after a workout. Aim to eat a snack with approximately 10 to 20 grams of protein about 30 minutes after exercise; that's the point when your muscles are most receptive.

Smoothies

  • You don't have to add a scoop of protein powder to a smoothie to make it a powerful post-workout meal. Blend together fruits, yogurt, milk and nut butter or hemp seeds to create an all-natural protein drink. Milk and yogurt contain whey and casein, the primary proteins in many powders. Nut butter and hemp seeds are other sources of quality protein.

Sandwiches

  • Certain types of sandwiches make for a substantial post-workout snack, combining carbohydrates for energy restoration with all-important protein. Try hummus on a pita or all-natural turkey on 100 percent whole-wheat bread. Tuna salad made with yogurt instead of mayo or good old peanut butter on whole-grain toast are additional protein-rich sandwich options that will aid recovery.

Eggs

  • Eggs contain about 6 grams of protein each -- scramble up three with spinach and mushrooms and serve with a whole-wheat english muffin for an after-workout meal. Hard-boiled eggs are portable post-workout snacks too. Don't worry about the cholesterol in the yolks unless you have been diagnosed with high cholesterol. A 2009 study in the "International Journal of Clinical Practice" concluded that the relationship between dietary cholesterol and increased risk of heart disease is exaggerated.

Lean Meats

  • White-meat chicken, white fish or flank steak are whole-food alternatives to processed powders. If you can prepare and sit down to a full meal after your workout, pair a 4-ounce serving of these lean proteins with brown rice or quinoa and leafy green vegetables. If there isn't time for a full meal, wrap a tortilla around a few ounces of chicken breast or flank steak.

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