Recovery Snack and Meal Ideas
Put whole foods above all else. This will ensure you get the right kinds of nutrients, which will speed up recovery.
The following recovery snacks and meals supply plenty of restorative nutrients, and strike the right balance of carbs and protein:
Hot chocolate: Avoid pre-packaged hot chocolate mixes, which may contain artificial ingredients and excessive amounts of sugar. Instead, make your hot chocolate from scratch—with low-fat milk and melted dark chocolate, as recommended by Penny L. Wilson, a registered dietitian and owner of Eating for Performance. The caffeine in chocolate acts as a vasodilator to widen and relax the blood vessels so oxygenated blood can more easily flow through and restore your muscles.
Buckwheat Pancakes with Almonds and Berries: This is a favorite recovery meal for Matt Fitzgerald, a certified sports nutritionist, marathon runner, triathlete and author of Racing Weight. Buckwheat is a good source of protein, carbohydrates and fiber. It's also naturally gluten-free. Instead of topping the pancakes with sugary maple syrup, Fitzgerald opts for heart-healthy almonds and antioxidant-rich berries.
Tomato Soup with Grilled Cheese: In their book, The Feed Zone Cookbook, Allen Lim and Chef Biju Thomas laud grilled cheese as being an optimal recovery food for endurance athletes. The recipe calls for cream cheese, Swiss cheese, roasted red peppers and nutmeg. The latter has been shown to provide relief from muscular and joint pain. Tomatoes are rich in inflammation-reducing lycopene.
Yogurt with Bananas, Coconut and a Drizzle of Honey: Yogurt contains amino acids that help build muscle. Bananas and coconut are high in potassium, which ease muscle cramping. Honey possesses anti-inflammatory properties and the carbohydrates needed to help rebuild muscle fibers.
Strawberry Banana Smoothie: If you find it tough to eat solid foods right after a workout, try a smoothie. Michelle Ulrich, a sports dietitian for endurance coaching company ETA Coach, recommends a smoothie made with plain Greek yogurt, banana, strawberries, rolled oats, milk and peanut butter.
Pasta with Broccoli-Rabe Pesto: Not all pastas are created equal. Whole grain pastas contain more of the natural nutrition found in the grain, such as fiber, in comparison to white pastas. Try this pasta with broccoli-rabe pesto recipe, which is made with whole-wheat pasta.
Fast and Easy Vegetarian Chili: Chili is great for gluten-free and vegetarian athletes. Plus, its namesake ingredient—chili pepper—is packed with vitamin B6, which transports oxygen to the muscles. Check out this chili recipe, which is packed with vegetables and comes together in just 30 minutes.
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