Best Post Workout Meal Plan to Gain Muscle & Recover Faster

Everybody trains for a reason. Some people do it to improve their strength and power while others do it for enhancing their flexibility and to look good naked. Achieving any of these goals is absolutely not possible without proper nutrition. And for an athlete, the best time of the day (besides breakfast) to make the most out of his nutrition is right after a training session. Heavy training in the gym breaks down the muscle and thus makes it mandatory to refuel the body with top-notch meal for post workout. Here’s more on how to make a great post workout meal –

Purpose of a Post Workout Meal

In a nutshell, a post workout meal is everything that you need after a strenuous training session. It is the Holy Grail for muscle recovery, replenishing depleted glycogen and increasing muscle protein synthesis. Here are the major purposes of a post workout meal –

  • Replenish Lost Glycogen Stores:
     Replenishing the muscle glycogen that was used up during your training session is one of the most served purposes of post workout nutrition. Not only is it important for quick recovery but also plays an important role in muscle gain.
  • Reduce Muscle Protein Breakdown and Elevate Muscle Protein Synthesis:
     Muscle protein synthesis aka rebuilding of muscle tissue has to exceed muscle protein breakdown in order to make muscles grow. But, in the absence of quality nutrition, the muscle protein breakdown takes the lead and net muscle protein balance remains negative. This further pushes the body into a catabolic state — every bodybuilder’s nightmare.
  • Induce Quick Recovery:
     Another purpose of a post-workout meal is to enhance the overall recovery after the workout. It can only be possible by including a quality source of protein and carbohydrates in your post workout diet plan.
  • Reduce Workout Fatigue and Muscle Soreness:
     Although pre-workout nutrition has a major role to play in reducing soreness and fatigue, post workout nutrition can further aid the efforts and enhance respite from exhaustion.

Important Constituents of a Muscle Building Post Workout Meal

A meal for a great post workout for primarily includes

  • Protein: Best post workout protein sources include whey protein, eggs, chicken, steak, salmon, cottage cheese, nuts.
  • Carbohydrates: Best post workout carb sources include dextrose monohydrate, sweet potato, brown rice, whole wheat products and fresh fruits.

Benefits or Protein and Carbs in Post Workout Meal

  • Benefits of Post Workout Protein: A study conducted by The University of Texas with an aim to examine the response of net muscle protein synthesis to ingestion of amino acids after a workout found that the ingestion of protein after a workout stimulates muscle growth by increasing muscle protein synthesis and slowing down muscle breakdown.
     Moreover, another research in this regard found that post-workout protein ingestion stimulated 30–100% more protein synthesis that protein consumed at rest.
  • Benefits of Post Workout Carbs: Post workout carb are known for spiking insulin levels and thus kicking in muscle growth. However, the truth is that unlike amino acids and protein, insulin does not increase muscle protein synthesis directly. But it does have anabolic properties that help in decreasing the rate of post workout muscle protein breakdown. Another reason why you should include carbohydrates in your post workout meal is to replenish the glycogen stores which is essential to improve performance and low levels of which can increase muscle breakdown.

Post Workout Meal Planning Guidelines

Few handy planning rules to follow after a meal -

  • Following this research, I advise you to eat your meal within 60–90 minutes after your training session ends.
  • Your post workout protein and carb intake should be:
     Protein = 0.25 grams/pound of your target bodyweight
     Carbs = 0.25–0.5 grams/pound of your target bodyweight
     (Source: Alan Aragon)
  • Befriend fast carbs for a post workout shake for spiking insulin levels and refueling muscle glycogen stores. You can also eat high GI fresh fruits to supply your body with immediate energy.
  • You should keep your fat intake to a minimum as it slows down the digestion of protein and carbs.

Post Workout Meal Ideas:

1) Sample Post Workout Meal for Women

A) Orange and Vanilla Protein Pancakes

protein-pancakes
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Ingredients Required:

How to Prepare Orange and Vanilla Protein Pancakes:

  • Mix all the ingredients in a large bowl.
  • Mix well to prepare a batter of uniform pouring consistency.
  • On a medium flame, add some cooking oil and pour the batter into a non-stick frying pan and fry.
  • Flip when the base is well cooked.
  • Serve hot with your favorite piece of fruit or peanut butter.

B) Scrambled Eggs

scrambled-eggs
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Ingredients Required:

  • 2 whole eggs
  • 1 egg white
  • ¼ cup chopped tomatoes
  • ¼ cup chopped onion
  • ¼ cup chopped capsicum
  • 1 tablespoon of cooking oil (preferably olive oil)
  • Salt to taste

How to Prepare Scrambled Eggs

  • On a low flame, pour a tablespoon of cooking oil in a non-stick frying pan
  • Add onion to the pan and heat it for two minutes
  • Then add tomatoes and capsicum to the pan and heat it for another minute.
  • Now add eggs to the pan and stir it well to break the yolks.
  • Stir until there’s no more liquid in the pan.
  • Serve hot with whole grain toast.

Note: The reason why I recommend post workout meals like protein pancakes and scrambled eggs for women is that these meals are not only low in calories and carbs but also packs a punch of protein. Plus they are easy to make.

2) Sample Post Workout Meal for Weight Loss

A) Peanut Butter, Banana, and Chocolate Whey Protein Smoothie

Ingredients required –

  • 1 cup water (you can also use skimmed milk)
  • 2 scoop German Chocolate Whey Protein Powder
  • 2 tablespoon peanut butter (if available use organic)
  • 1 large banana
  • ½ cup spinach
  • 1 tablespoon of dark cocoa powder

How to prepare Chocolate Whey Protein Smoothie –

  • In a blender, blend all the above ingredients till the mixture is uniform.
  • Add ice cubes or freeze it for a couple of minutes before serving.
  • Here’s your quick and easy post-workout meal for fat loss.
smoothies
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B) Blueberry and Oats Whey Protein Smoothie

Ingredients required –

  • 1 cup blueberries
  • ¼ cup oats
  • 2 scoop German Chocolate Whey Protein
  • 1 banana
  • ¼ cup walnuts
  • 1 tablespoon flax seeds or chia seeds

How to prepare Blueberry and Oats Whey Protein Smoothie –

  • In a blender, blend all the above ingredients till the mixture is uniform.
  • Add ice cubes or freeze it for a couple of minutes before serving.

Note: The reason why smoothies make a best post workout meal for weight loss is because they are low in calories. Besides, smoothies are rich in protein and get digested quickly.

3) Sample Post Workout Meal for Vegetarians

A) Avocado Quinoa Salad

Ingredients required:

  • 1 cup of Quinoa
  • ¼ cup of tomatoes, chopped
  • ¼ cup of asparagus, chopped
  • 1 ripe avocado, sliced into small pieces
  • 1 tablespoon of extra virgin olive oil
  • 1–2 tablespoon of vinegar
  • 1/8 cup of olive oil
  • Salt to taste

How to prepare Avocado Quinoa Salad:

  • Start by cooking the quinoa.
  • In a non-stick frying pan sauté the asparagus and tomatoes in one tablespoon of extra virgin olive oil.
  • Now in a medium jar mix the olive oil and vinegar together.
  • Finally when everything’s ready, mix cooked quinoa, fried asparagus and tomatoes and vinaigrette along with sliced avocados in the serving bowl.
  • Add pepper or salt to taste.
salad
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B) Soyabean and Chickpea Salad

Ingredients required:

  • 2 cups chickpeas, cooked and rinsed
  • 1/4 cup diced bell peppers
  • 1/4 cup diced carrots
  • 1/2 cup shelled soyabean
  • ¾ cup of apple cider vinegar
  • ¼ dried cranberries
  • 2 tablespoon of cumin
  • Salt to taste

How to prepare Soyabean and Chickpea Salad:

  • In a bowl mix chickpeas, bell peppers, carrots, cranberries, and soyabean.
  • Pour apple cider vinegar and cumin on the salad.
  • Mix well, add salt or pepper as required and serve.

Note: Ingredients used in vegetarian meal for post workout like soyabean, chickpeas, quinoa and avocado will ensure that you get all the vital nutrients including protein, carbs, and healthy fats as well.

4) Muscle Building Post Workout Meal for Men

Ideal Post Workout Meal for Men includes –

  • Grilled skinless chicken breast and whole wheat pasta
  • Steak and sweet potato
  • Lamb chops and Broccoli Salad
  • Grilled skinless chicken breast and brown rice
  • Hard boiled eggs and berries

Note: Quality protein sources like eggs, chicken, and steak when consumed with complex carbs like sweet potato and whole wheat pasta creates a perfect combination for best post workout meal.

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Post Workout Supplementation

Quite simply, the main objective of a post-workout shake is to halt the muscle protein breakdown and thereby increase muscle protein synthesis and post workout recovery.

Time and again, several studies have concluded that whey protein supplementation after a workout increases lean muscle mass and halts protein breakdown in muscles.

Add amino acids and creatine to your post-workout whey protein shake to enhance recovery and aid muscle growth.

Note: People who are too worried about extra calories should take their whey protein shake with water. However, I personally recommend drinking whey protein shake with milk. Milk contains many electrolytes, nutrients and other elements that help to make it an effective post-exercise beverage.

Conclusion

Keep your post workout meal rich in protein and carbs. There’s no need to make things complicated. All you have to do is to adhere to basic post-workout meal planning guidelines and take some time out of your day to prepare your diet beforehand.


Originally published at My Health & Fitness — MyFitFuel.