5 Perfect Recovery Meals for Your Workouts

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Emily Newhook is the outreach coordinator for the MHA degree program from The George Washington University, MHA@GW. Outside of work, she enjoys writing, film studies and powerlifting. Connect with her on Twitter and

If you aren’t choosing the right foods to eat after working out, you’re doing yourself a disservice. Certain foods can boost your immune system and help speed up your body’s recovery, allowing you to feel great even after doing an exorbitant amount of squats.


Here are five foods that are both rich in nutrients and fantastic for recovery following five different workouts. Not sure how to incorporate them into your menu? We’ve included our favorite recipes, too.


1. Oatmeal


Oatmeal contains complex carbohydrates, which absorb into your bloodstream slower because they take longer to digest, providing you with a steady amount of energy as opposed to that crash-and-burn feeling. Oats are chockfull of iron and fiber (one cup of oats has almost double the amount of fiber as a slice of whole-wheat bread), both of which provide the body with necessary nutrients. Iron promotes optimal cardiovascular performance while fiber prevents binge eating. For a delicious, easy recipe, try this blueberry, sunflower seed and agave oatmeal recipe from Real Simple.


When to try it: At the end of a long run. A bowl stabilizes your blood sugar, and also serves as great source of fiber and carbohydrates.


2. Eggs


As long as you limit your cholesterol intake, eggs are a great food to eat while following a rigorous workout plan. Eggs are high in protein, which provide your body with the fuel necessary to build muscle. A post-workout egg is one of the best sources of protein you can get.  Also, eggs contain leucine, an amino acid that allows you to burn fat without losing muscle. Tired of plain scrambled eggs? Check out this recipe for a sweet potato frittata.


When to try it: After an early-morning weight training session. Sweet potatoes bring the carbs and eggs pack the protein.


3. Peanut Butter


Peanut butter is packed with protein — you only need 2 tablespoons to get 7 grams of protein! Peanut butter also contains potassium, which helps work against the high amounts of sodium we usually have in our bodies thanks to salt-rich foods. Also, peanut butter is considered a “good” fat (like avocado) in that it contains heart-healthy mono-saturated fat. The combination of protein and fiber makes peanut butter pretty filling — so it’s a good food to help curb your appetite. Try a peanut butter, apple and granola sandwich recipe from Shape.com


When to try it: After a quick lunchtime workout. Peanut butter is not only packed with nutrients, it’s also great on the go.


4. Chicken


A 3-ounce serving of chicken thigh is packed with 21 grams of protein, which speeds immune system recovery, building and maintaining muscle and supporting cell regrowth. Chicken also contains iron, which aids in your body’s cardiovascular function by producing hemoglobin and myoglobin, both of which help transport oxygen all over the body. For a taste of Mediterranean flavor, cook chicken tagine with olives, courtesy of fitnessmagazine.com.


When to try it: after a high-energy yoga session, when protein is high-priority.


5. Salmon


Salmon is jam-packed with omega-3 fatty acids, a nutrient that is seriously lacking in the average American’s diet. Omega-3s promote heart health by boosting the elasticity of your blood vessels and improving the functionality of your nervous system. Eating salmon can actually boost your athletic ability — studies have shown that adding salmon into your diet can reduce your risk of strokes while allowing you to achieve higher cardiac output. Salmon also contains tons of our favorite “p” word — you guessed it, protein. For a delicious recipe inspired by French cuisine, try salmon salad with vinaigrette from health.com.


When to try it: the combination of lean protein and iron-rich greens are perfect following a tough Crossfit class.


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1 Comment
  • This post is awesome, I would suggest that you also add blueberries to that list! My personal trainer suggested I try eating it after a hard workout, and it works! I noticed if I eat blueberries after exercising heavily, the next day I don’t have sore muscles! I call them miracle berries! :D

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