Imagine you’ve just finished a satisfyingly-brutal training session and you’re standing in front of the refrigerator wondering what meal to make that will not only leave you feeling satisfied, but will also aid in proper recovery. How can you best replenish your energy reserves while also building muscle? Will certain nutrient-rich foods pack a better punch than others?
Here, three Spartan coaches share their favorite post-workout recovery meals and snacks. Let's get started.
The Best Post-Workout Snack Recipes That Spartan Coaches Recommend
Timmie’s Avocado Toast
“This is quick, simple, and so delicious,” trainer Timmie Brann says, of her favorite post-workout lunch. “It’s also super easy to make it your own way by adding your own spices and fixings.”
- 1 slice of toasted Ezekiel bread (or other sprouted bread)
- 1/2 mashed avocado
- 1/2 thinly sliced tomato
- 1 egg
Toast the bread, then spread the mashed avocado on top. Add your own spices to the avocado — Brann’s favorites are pink salt, pepper and cumin. Top the toast with tomato slices and throw a poached or sunny side up egg on top. Brann poaches her eggs in a teaspoon of Kerrygold butter in a sauté pan, but you can cook them however you like.
Post-Workout Power Smoothie
“My wife makes these smoothies for us all of the time, and the kids and I love them,” Yancy Culp, DEKA Co-Creator and Director of Sport, says.
Amy Culp, Assistant Athletics Director for Performance Nutrition at the University of Texas (and Yancy's wife), says she loves to make smoothies because they’re so easy to swig.
“Appetite can be blunted after intense exercise, especially in the heat,” she says. “When that's the case, drinking can be easier than chewing. We always make sure we have carbs to refuel — usually from fruit — protein from the protein powder or plain yogurt, and a healthy fat for satiety and to assist with absorbing nutrients and decreasing inflammation.
“You can throw in leafy greens, too, and you won't taste them at all.”
- 16 ounces of water
- Handful of ice
- 1 serving of Collagen peptides plus whey protein powder (check the package and measure according to the directions)
- 1-2 tablespoons of nut or seed butter of your choice
- 1 banana
Optional: 5 grams of Creatine
Add all of the ingredients to a blender, blend it up, and enjoy! To ramp up the protein and calories, you can use milk in place of water.
Date and Mango Energy Bites
Yancy and Amy Culp also enjoy these energy bites as a post-workout snack almost daily. (The recipe is adapted from Eating Well.)
- 2 cups of pitted, whole dates
- 1 cup of raw cashews
- 1 cup of dried mango or other dried fruit
- ¼ teaspoon of salt
Process the dates, cashews, mango (or other fruit), and salt in a food processor until finely chopped. Form into about 20 balls, using 2 tablespoons for each scoop. These store well in an airtight container at room temperature or in a refrigerator for up to one week.
Sweet Potato and Turkey Mash-Up
“I love that this meal has a complex carb, a lean protein, and good fat,” Brann says.
The elite athlete tries to make the mash-up in bulk in advance, so she can easily reheat it post-workout. Feel free to play with your protein: You can even try a version with lean beef or grilled chicken.
- 1/2 of a roasted sweet potato
- 4 to 5 ounces of ground turkey
- 1/2 avocado
- A pinch of taco seasoning
- 1 cup of fresh spinach
- 1 teaspoon of olive oil
Preheat your oven to 425ºF. Cut your sweet potato in half, add fork holes, then drizzle it with olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Roast for 45 to 55 minutes, until a fork can easily be pushed into the sweet potato.
While your potatoes are cooking, sauté the turkey meat over medium heat with a drizzle of olive oil and taco seasoning.
For the spinach, you can use it fresh or sauté it until wilted. (If you do this, add salt, pepper, and a drizzle of olive oil.)
Finally, put the potatoes on a plate, then add turkey meat, avocado, and spinach.
“This simple meal provides all of the key elements needed for recovery after a workout,” Culp says. “It has carbohydrates to refuel, protein to repair, and healthy fat and greens decrease inflammation and absorb nutrients.”
Rich’s Favorite Banana Bread
This banana bread version — adapted from Better Homes and Gardens New Cook Book — is one of CrossFit coach Rich Borgatti’s go-to's.
“It’s a favorite holdover from my high school cross country meets,” he says. “It is a fantastic carb replenishment that has the potassium goodness of bananas.”
Plus, don’t be afraid of the flour and sugar, Amy Culp reassures, since you’re active enough to offset it.
“Banana bread is a nutrient-dense snack, and you can top it with nut butter and serve it with milk for a breakfast on the go,” she says.
- 2 beaten eggs
- 1½ cups of mashed bananas (5 medium, best when overripe)
- 1 cup of sugar
- ½ cup of cooking oil or melted butter
- 2 cups of all-purpose flour
- 1½ teaspoon of baking powder
- ½ teaspoon of baking soda
- ¼ teaspoon of ground cinnamon
- ½ teaspoon of ground nutmeg
- ¼ teaspoon of salt
- ¼ cup of chopped walnuts
Grease the bottom of a 9x5x3-inch loaf pan and preheat the oven to 350ºF. Combine the eggs, bananas, sugar, and oil (or butter) in a bowl and stir until combined. Add in all of the dry ingredients (flour through salt) and stir just until moistened; the matter will be lumpy — and that’s fine! Fold in the nuts and spoon the batter into prepared pan.
Bake for 55 to 60 minutes, or until a wooden toothpick inserted near the center comes out clean. If the top gets too brown too quickly, cover it with foil during the last 15 minutes of cooking. Cool in the pan for 10 minutes, then remove the bread from the pan and cool completely on a wire rack.