We all know that feeling after a long, hard workout when you are absolutely ravenous. You feel like you deserve to treat yo’self, which you do, but it is important to make sure that you are getting an adequate amount of protein for proper recovery and results.
While you are working out, you are tearing your muscle fibers. To allow for growth and progress, replenishing these muscle fibers with protein is key; eating a lot of junk after a workout is going to get you basically nowhere.
After you kill it at the gym during leg day or after you complete a long run, do your body some good and make sure to eat one or more of these high protein foods. Many of these foods are pretty basic and can be versatile to cater to whatever your hungry body is craving post-workout.
1. Peanut Butter
Peanut butter is a wonderful addition to any piece of fruit, rice crake, bread or just straight from the jar, to satisfy you after your workout. This calorie-dense favorite is not only a good source of protein, but also a large serving of your daily intake of healthy fats.
2. Greek Yogurt
Regular yogurt in comparison to Greek yogurt just comes up short. Greek yogurt has up to 17 grams of protein in one cup, which is sure to bring you some gains.
#SpoonTip: To avoid excess sugar, stick to plain Greek yogurt and add your own honey and cinnamon.
Although it benefits us with its protein content, Greek yogurt may be harmful for the environment, so eat with caution.
3. Quest Bar
If you haven’t had a Quest bar by now, I’m not sure what you’ve been doing with your life. These miracle protein bars are low-carb and have 20 grams of protein. The flavors of Quest bars seem to be endless and you can make healthy dessert recipes or bake them. This post-workout snack will get over old.
4. Protein Powder
Don’t worry, I’m not suggesting that you eat raw protein powder. Protein powder is one of the most convenient ways to get some protein in after the gym. Whether you are just mixing it with water in a shaker bottle, making a protein smoothie or cooking protein pancakes, protein powder will add flavor along with nutritional content.
Vegan? Dairy-free? There’s a protein powder out there for you too.
Not only is dry roasted edamame full of protein, fats and fiber, but this nutty snack is around $2 a bag, making it a healthy steal. Keeping a bag of edamame in your gym bag is one of the cheapest and quickest ways to get up to 14 grams of protein per serving. This roasted soy snack is a favorite of mine to keep around for snacking or on salads.
#SpoonTip: Mix some chocolate chips into your edamame…it sounds weird, but you’ll thank me later.
Everyone knows eggs are the OG source of protein with about 6 grams per egg, so make sure to eat them after you workout, no matter what time of day. Add an avocado, make an omelet filled with veggies or hard-boil a dozen to keep it interesting.
7. Cottage Cheese
Cottage cheese is the hidden gem of protein sources with almost 20 grams of casein protein per serving. Yogurt is often given the limelight, but this dairy product should not be written off. Paired with fruit or topped on a salad, cottage cheese is a nutritious way to recover from a workout.
8. Green Peas
Popeye might be a little upset, but a cup of green peas offers 8 times more protein than a cup of spinach, clocking in at 8 grams. Frozen peas will do you more than just ice your sore muscles after the gym. Eat them plain on the side of a protein or make pea pesto chicken if you have time.
Tuna sandwiches aren’t just for kids and school lunches. A 3 ounce can of light tuna has 16 grams of protein, half a gram of fat and only 70 calories. For a quick and easy post-workout snack, add tuna to whole grain crackers, make a tuna melt or get creative and make tuna salad in an avocado bowl.
One cup of black beans has a whopping 20 grams of protein, making them a cheap and virtually fat-free way for a protein fix after you just killed it at the gym. They’re vegan, vegetarian, gluten-free and dairy-free so they fit with almost any diet. Add them to rice, tacos and salads, or make black bean corn chili.
Looking for something extremely low calorie and high protein? Yep, you guessed it, it’s shrimp. A 3 ounce serving of shrimp has 19 grams of protein and each large shrimp has only about 7 calories.
You can buy frozen cooked shrimp to heat it up easily after the gym or you can get as fancy as you would like with endless recipes.
Hummus is a common favorite dip for veggies, pita, chips and pretzels. If you are craving something crunchy and dip-like after a sweat-session, reach for hummus instead of salsa. One serving of hummus offers about 5 grams of protein per serving along with healthy fats, without adding on too many calories.
Eating veggies and hummus is also a good way to make sure you get in a serving of vegetables.
Chicken is the other OG protein source and should be a go-to after a workout to rebuild your muscles. Chicken options are endless – from frozen to rotisserie and from diced to strips. Add chicken to a salad, whip up a healthy chicken burrito wrap or pretend you’re a chef and make a recipe like spinach soufflé stuffed chicken.
14. Protein Waffles
Waffles are appropriate at any time of day, especially after you pushed your body to its limits and want a treat. Protein waffles are an especially easy way to get your body protein and carbohydrates quickly after a workout. Make them yourself, or try my personal favorite frozen brand, Van’s Power Waffles. Two of these waffles have 10 grams of protein.
Use toppings like fruit, peanut butter, natural jam or Greek yogurt to step up from just maple syrup.
Nuts are a convenient on-the-go snack and a serving of almonds will pack in almost 7 grams of protein. The fat content combined with the protein makes almonds a post-workout snack that your body will thank you for.
#SpoonTip: Almonds are satisfying plain, but DIY trail mix is a fun way to mix it up.
Lentils should be an essential in your kitchen if they aren’t already. With a bean-like texture, lentils similarly pack in about 17 grams of protein per cup. They can be eaten cold or hot, and there are numerous ways to cook lentils for a post-gym meal that will be sure to hit the spot.
This soy-based protein is a go-to for vegetarians and vegans and has about 20 grams of protein per cup. Meat-eaters can enjoy tofu as well; tofu will take the flavor of whatever you are cooking it in, so if make right, it is a protein source that can satisfy all.
If you are still hesitant towards tofu, try one of these recipes after your workout to change your mind.
This whole grain has 8 grams of protein per cup. Quinoa is another versatile food that can be eaten in so many different ways when you get back from the gym, from quinoa oatmeal to bacon pumpkin quinoa.
However, there seems to be an ethical dilemma surrounding quinoa at the moment. Read more here.
If you are in desperate need of a lot of protein after an intense gym-session, go for a piece of salmon. A 0.5 ounce serving of salmon has 30 grams of protein and about 20 grams of fat. While the fat content may seem high, salmon is chock-full of healthy omega-3 fatty acids.
Cooking salmon is easy and fool-proof, even for the least competent cooks out there.
20. Hemp Seeds
Hemp seeds are an under-appreciated superfood, clocking in at about 14 grams of protein per three-tablespoon serving. Add them to your smoothie recipe if you don’t like the taste of protein powder, use them as a smoothie bowl topping or mix them into yogurt for a filling and nutritious post-workout snack.
If this article didn’t make you want to go to the gym and make a high protein post-workout snack after, I’m not sure what will. Remember to always get an adequate amount of protein after your workout to make sure your muscles fibers repair properly. Gains, here you come.