Post Workout Recovery Nutrition

RunningHow many of you are athletes, active exercisers, or just “weekend warriors” when it comes to working out? Well, no matter which category you fit in, it’s critical to get in your post workout nutrition to replenish fluids and electrolytes lost, carbohydrates for glycogen storage, and high quality protein for repairing and rebuilding muscle.


Your timing post workout is of great significance. The 30-minute “recovery window,” is the most important time to get quality nutrition in, which will help to build lean muscle and burn fat. It is not only about timing, but also what type of foods you choose to nourish your body with during this 30-minute window. The key is a mixture of protein, whole grain carbohydrates (all natural, not processed or refined carbs) and a small amount of omega 3 fatty acids, which are anti inflammatory to the body.


Many people are not hungry right after they workout, especially if it was a strenuous cardiovascular or heavy strength training exercise day. In this case, a protein shake is your best bet because you can blend whole fruits and/or vegetables and protein into a portable drink that is quick, easy and nutritious.


Pea ProteinTo the right you will see a picture of my favorite post workout protein shake. I perfected this homemade recipe after mixing multiple smoothie creations. It includes 8 ounces of Silk unsweetened Almond milk, 1 scoop pea protein, 2 tablespoons ground flaxmeal, 2 tablespoons nonfat plain Greek yogurt, ½ of a frozen banana, ½ cup organic frozen blueberries, a handful of walnuts, ½-1 cup organic spinach leaves, 2 teaspoons cinnamon and 2 pitted dates (optional). Add 2-3 ice cubes and blend to make it cold and refreshing! You’ll feel great and re-energized!


I love this shake because it contains a great source of plant based protein, fiber and antioxidants (from the fresh fruit), omega 3 fatty acids (from the flaxseeds and walnuts), green phytonutrients (from the spinach), probiotics (from the Greek yogurt) and delicious sweetness without the added sugar (from the cinnamon and dates). This shake yields a high nutrient value, with low calories to allow you to stay within your calorie allowance for the day!

Below are a few other options if you have more time to prepare a post workout meal (breakfast, lunch or dinner ideas):

IMG_2165_2High protein breakfast: 1 cup nonfat organic or Greek yogurt, add ¾ cup Bob’s Red Mill Muesli or Bear Naked high protein granola, 2 tablespoons ground flaxmeal, ½ cup Strawberries, and ½ cup blueberries (you can layer it in a parfait style as shown in the picture).

Eggs with a punch: Scramble two cage free omega 3 eggs and add 1-2 tablespoons ground flaxmeal with ½ cup strawberries on the side.

Peanut/Almond butter-banana oatmeal shake: Mix ½ cup oats, 1 cup almond milk, 1 medium banana, 1-tablespoon natural peanut butter or almond butter, and 1 scoop vanilla whey protein. Blend and top with 2 teaspoons pumpkin spice or cinnamon.

Quinoa, chicken (or salmon) and spinach: ¾ cup cooked quinoa; 3 ounces of grilled or broiled chicken (or wild salmon) with black or lemon pepper, and sautéed spinach in olive oil. (Gluten free and dairy free).

Personal Protein Bake: Mix ¾ protein powder (2-3 tablespoons), ¼ c. wheat bran, 1 tablespoon whole wheat flour, 1 tablespoon oatmeal, 1 teaspoon baking powder, dash salt, ½ c. milk or almond milk or water, 2 Tbsp. vanilla Greek yogurt (optional), 1 egg white (optional). Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Mix all ingredients into ramekin and bake 20-25 minutes until soft yet firm.

Chicken and veggies with lowfat cottage cheese: 3 ounces broiled chicken breast with olive oil, cayenne pepper, and garlic on top of stir fried vegetables (yellow, green or red veggies, mushrooms, red onions, broccoli, cauliflower, and asparagus). Mix with low fat cottage cheese.

IMG_1691Nutrition in a cup: Use your Magic Bullet or Nutribullet to mix fruits, vegetables, nuts and seeds for a nutrient packed breakfast, lunch or dinner. The picture to the right shows a few different delicious smoothie creations.

Studies have been done on collegiate and professional athletes that indicated those who did not get their 30-minute post workout recovery nutrition in, and ate 3 hours later instead had a higher fat mass and lower lean body mass percentage (the opposite of what you want). Therefore, the timing of your post workout nutrition impacts your body mass composition, even among competitive athletes.

I always recommend, “Eat when your body needs it the most.” If you listen to your hunger and satiety cues, your body will tell you when it’s “hungry” and “full.” However, if you don’t listen to these cues, and wait too long between your meals, it’s a recipe for disaster. You’ll have a more difficult time choosing something healthy to eat, and portion control is hard to manage when you have the “I can eat just about anything right now” mentality. Also, including small frequent meals throughout the day and incorporating your pre and post workout recovery nutrition, will increase your energy, promote better blood sugar control, weight maintenance, and lean muscle gain. The more lean muscle you have, the more metabolically active you will be, and therefore the healthier you are!

Fitness FaceShotTo learn more about pre and post workout recovery nutrition, contact Courtney Sullivan, Registered Dietitian Nutritionist, Certified Personal Trainer, Group Personal Training Specialist and Founder of Nutrition for Body and Mind. Schedule your nutrition appointment now. Click here!