You’ve just finished a satisfyingly brutal workout and you’re standing in front of the fridge wondering what to make. 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 SGX group-training class coaches share their favorite post-workout recovery meals and snacks. Each of these recipes are serious post-sweat session winners. Dig in!
The Best Post-Workout Snacks Ever
Timothia’s Fancy Avocado Toast
“This is quick, simple, and so delicious,” says trainer Timothia Brann of her favorite post-workout lunch. “It’s also super easy to make it your own way. Add 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 saute pan, but you can cook them however you like.
Related: 3 Reasons to Eat Eggs
Post-Workout Power Smoothie
“My wife makes these smoothies for us all the time, and the kids and I love them,” says trainer Yancy Culp.
Amy Culp, Yancy’s wife and the Assistant Athletics Director for Performance Nutrition at the University of Texas, 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. “Drinking can be easier than chewing when that’s the case.”
The buzzworthy formula? “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,” says Culp. “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; the Culp’s use HumanN collagen peptides plus whey)
- 1-2 T of nut or seed butter of your choice (we like NuttZo)
- 1 banana
- Optional: 5 grams Creatine
Add 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 & 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 pitted whole dates
- 1 cup raw cashews
- 1 cup dried mango or other dried fruit
- ¼ teaspoon 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 & Turkey Mash-Up
“I love that this meal has a complex carb, lean protein, and good fat,” says Brann. She 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: Borgatti makes a version with lean beef or grilled chicken.
- 1/2 roasted sweet potato
- 4 to 5 ounces ground turkey
- 1/2 avocado
- A pinch of taco seasoning
- 1 cup of fresh spinach
- 1 teaspoon of olive oil
Preheat your oven to 425 F. 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, saute the turkey meat over medium heat with a drizzle of olive oil and taco seasoning.
For the spinach, you can use it fresh or saute it until wilted. (If you do this, add salt, pepper and a drizzle of olive oil.)
Put potatoes on a plate, then add turkey meat, avocado and spinach.
The nutritionist says: “This simple meal provides all the key elements needed for recovery after a workout,” says Culp. “It has carbohydrates to refuel, protein to repair, healthy fat and greens decrease inflammation and absorb nutrients.”
Related: Sweet Potatoes: Food of the Week
Rich’s Favorite Banana Bread
This version adapted from Better Homes and Gardens New Cook Book is one of 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.”
The nutritionist says: “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,” Culp says. Don’t be afraid of the flour and sugar, she reassures--you’re active enough to offset it.
- 2 beaten eggs
- 1½ cups mashed bananas (5 medium, best when overripe)
- 1 cup sugar
- ½ cup cooking oil, melted butter or margarine
- 2 cups all-purpose flour
- 1½ t baking powder
- ½ t baking soda
- ¼ t ground cinnamon
- ½ t ground nutmeg
- ¼ t salt
- ¼ cup chopped walnuts
Grease the bottom of a 9x5x3-inch loaf pan and preheat the oven to 350 F. Combine eggs, bananas, sugar and oil (or butter) in a bowl and stir until combined. Add in all 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.