Exercise benefits your body in so many amazing ways. For instance, resistance training builds muscle strength and endurance, cardio helps your heart pump more efficiently, and stretching can reduce injuries and boost your flexibility. What’s more, exercise can speed up the calorie burn to support your weight loss efforts. If your goal is to drop weight, one approach you may take is calculating calories consumed versus calories burned. A modest deficit in what you consume could aid in your fat loss goals. The foods you consume after working out can also impact your progress, so we’re here to share exactly what to eat after a workout for weight loss.
While you may be tempted to head straight to the shower post-exercise, making time for recovery nutrition is essential. Recovery nutrition is the food you eat after your workout that helps your body restore energy, support muscle tissue, and replace essential nutrients that can become depleted during exercise, like carbohydrates and electrolytes. Eating right after you exercise can also help you get more out of subsequent workouts, support muscle growth, and aid in weight loss.
Whether your recovery nutrition is food or drink, there are a few things to keep in mind when putting together a post-workout snack:
- Always include a source of protein to support muscle tissue challenged during exercise.
- Add a source of carbohydrates to replenish stores within your body.
- Incorporate hydration to replace fluid lost via sweat.
You’re putting in the effort in the gym, now let’s complement that work with the right food choices. Here are eight things to eat after your workout for weight loss. Keep reading to learn all about them, and next, don’t miss 10 Habits That Destroy Your Weight Loss Progress After 50.
A convenient source of protein and other essential nutrients, eggs are a great choice for recovery nutrition. Not only can eggs be eaten in a variety of ways, but the protein they provide gives your muscles building blocks to repair and build post-exercise. One large egg provides about 80 calories and 6 grams of protein, making it a satiating food, too. This can regulate your appetite throughout the day and reduce the number of calories you consume, aiding in weight loss.
If you are on the go, pack a couple of hardboiled eggs to have with fruit for a well-rounded recovery snack. At home, use your eggs to make an omelet packed with veggies for a tasty fiber-packed meal.
Another convenient source of protein, shakes make it easy to pack essential nutrients into a single item. Ready-to-drink shakes are great because they provide protein and carbs in one package, eliminating any excuse for skipping your recovery nutrition.
To maximize your weight loss efforts, choose shakes or protein powders that contain whey protein. Research suggests using whey protein in place of other calories can lead to weight loss and muscle gain when in conjunction with strength training. Also, avoid options with added sugar, as these empty calories may slow weight loss.
While not the friendliest option if you are heading into an office after your workout, canned or pouched tuna is a great source of protein and essential omega-3 fats. The protein in tuna aids in muscle recovery and allows for a more satiating meal, while research shows that the unsaturated fats further improve recovery of muscle performance and decrease feelings of soreness after working out. While the protein on its own may assist weight loss, experiencing less soreness after a workout may encourage you to engage in additional exercise quicker, further contributing to weight loss. Mix your tuna with avocado for additional unsaturated fats, and enjoy over whole grain crackers for a quality carb.
Who doesn’t love a classic PB&J sandwich? A meal enjoyed by children and adults alike, this delicious combination of healthy fats, protein, and carbs is also great after a workout. Any nut or seed butter will work here and provides a solid source of protein and unsaturated fats.
When choosing your bread, go with a whole-grain option that will contribute some fiber and protein. Incorporating fiber into your recovery meal adds another satiating nutrient to keep you feeling fuller, longer after your workout.
While a small amount of jam can be enjoyed, mashed fruit is an alternative that reduces added sugar. Sugar can detract from your weight loss goals, so instead, let a few frozen raspberries defrost before mashing them with a fork and spreading them on your sandwich.
By combining two protein-rich foods, one of which also contains whey protein, you’ve got an excellent recovery snack that may help you drop weight. This is also an option relatively low in calories which can further your efforts.
Combine a light string cheese with a couple of slices of lean deli meat to create a protein-packed snack for fewer than 100 calories! To turn this into a well-balanced recovery meal, wrap your meat and cheese in a whole-grain tortilla with spinach and mustard, and add a side of fiber-packed berries.
While this option is more concentrated in calories compared to many others on this list, trail mix provides a great balance of nutrients important for recovery and weight loss. Protein, fiber, and healthy fats aid your body after a workout and increase satiety which could benefit your weight loss goals.
To really make this option work for your goals, choose a mix that is largely made up of nuts and seeds, and contains zero candy. Additionally, use dried fruit that does not contain any added sugar. If you can’t find a store-bought option that works within these parameters, make a batch of your own by using your favorite nuts, seeds, and sugar-free dried fruit. You can even throw in some dried edamame as another source of protein and fiber.
Similar to a ready-to-drink protein shake, this option packs your recovery essentials into one food. However, with so many options on the market, it can be tricky to find the bars that best suit your weight loss goals. To simplify this process, look for a bar with at least 10 grams of protein, two grams of fiber, and zero grams of added sugar. A bar that contains some omega-3 fats adds a bonus for muscle recovery and weight loss goals.
With about 25 grams of protein per cup, cottage cheese is a great option after your workout. This protein content helps your muscle recovery and fills you up with minimal time spent in the kitchen. Cottage cheese also contains whey protein which may benefit weight loss, and sodium to replace electrolytes lost through sweat.
Timing is everything with recovery nutrition, and eating within a half hour of finishing your exercise could help you achieve weight loss. To meet this time goal, a convenient snack like cottage cheese topped with melon is a great option.
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