A strenuous workout leaves little time to whip up a complicated meal before heading back to the office or classes or daycare. Nobody wants to drag into the kitchen after an exhausting session at the gym, but you need to refuel. Complex carbs and protein are required to give you quick muscle recovery. Sports nutritionists say that speed is key in refueling. A new study recommends eating within about 30 minutes of your workout. Make meal prep fast and easy with a breakfast, lunch or dinner that needs only four ingredients.
Post-Workout Dinner: Bolognese Pasta
Start with lean beef for protein and zinc, which boosts protein synthesis. Add pasta for carbs, tomato sauce for fiber and Parmesan cheese for flavor. Cook pasta to package directions. Cook lean ground beef until browned In a separate pan, add a can of premade tomato sauce and heat the mixture until warm. Serve Bolognese sauce over pasta and sprinkle with Parmesan to taste.
Post-Workout Lunch: Nutter-Nana Sandwich
No stove, no problem. This no-cook lunch restores protein, increases fiber and adds antioxidants. Spread 3 tablespoons chunky almond butter or peanut butter on two slices of whole-wheat bread. Top one side with sliced bananas and apple. Add a hint of sweetness if you prefer by drizzling some honey or sprinkling on cinnamon Top with the other slice of bread.
Post-Workout Breakfast: Sunny Banana Oatmeal
Winter mornings are the perfect time for this hot breakfast. Boost protein even further by substituting sunflower seed butter for almond butter. Choose regular or quick-cooking oatmeal instead of instant. Instant presweetened oatmeal can conceal a lot of extra sugar. Cook quick oats on the stove with 1/2 cup to 1 cup milk. Then top with one sliced banana and 1 heaping tablespoon sunflower butter. Add vanilla extract, cinnamon, fresh berries, or toasted nuts for added crunch and flavor.
Post-Workout Snack: PB&J Smoothie
This smoothie isn’t just a reminder of your favorite childhood after-school treat. The Concord grape juice helps refuel the body for recovery and also contains a type of antioxidant— polyphenol— that is good for heart health. Add one scoop protein powder, 1/4 cup grape juice, 1 tablespoon peanut butter, and 1/2 cup unsweetened almond milk in a blender. Add ice to make this smoothie thicker. Add some frozen berries or sweetened almond milk to make the drink sweeter.
For additional 4-ingredient post-workout recovery meal ideas, read more.