As far as building muscle is concerned, you generally find that, a lot of the time, people tend to focus on the physical training aspects far more than the diet and nutritional side of things. Of course we all know that lifting weights in the gym is absolutely essential for anybody looking to build muscle and improve their physique, but without the right foods and supplements consumed at the right time, all of that strenuous activity in the gym will have almost literally been for nothing. Put simply, you can lift all of the weights you like, and follow the most intense and physically demanding training routine in the world, but if you aren’t getting the right nutrients at the right time, you will not build anywhere near as much muscle, as you should be building.
When we lift weights in the gym, we actually place a great deal of stress on our bodies, and damage our muscles, breaking them down and destroying them. This is why we feel tired, sore, and achy afterwards, because we have literally been destroying our muscles. We grow bigger and stronger muscles when we rest and recover, providing of course, that our bodies have access to the right nutrients. Post-workout nutrition is especially important because your muscles are literally completely empty of glycogen, protein, amino acids, and other nutrients required for protein synthesis. Because of their vulnerable state, they’re anabolically primed to absorb more nutrients than usual. This is only temporary however, and lasts for around one hour after you train. This is known as the ‘anabolic window’ which is why post-workout nutrition is so important. Take a look at these five post-workout meals designed to provide fantastic recovery, and muscle building results.
Protein pancakes and mixed berries
As you probably already know, protein is absolutely essential from a bodybuilding perspective, because it plays such a crucial role in protein synthesis, cellular health, and general muscle growth, repair, and function in the process. Homemade protein pancakes are absolutely fantastic post-workout meal choices, because they provide a selection of everything your body needs post-workout. Regular pancakes are no good because they’re basically made from nothing but pure white flour, oil, salt, sugar, and milk. Protein pancakes however, can be made by combining ground oats with a few scoops of protein powder, a touch of baking powder, egg whites, a pinch of salt, a little natural honey, and a splash of milk or water. You basically combine the ingredients to make a batter, and then make pancakes as you would usually. You can make these in advance, or simply make the batter in advance, and make them as soon as you get back from the gym. By adding the mixed berries and honey, you create that much-needed insulin spike, which will help to drive more nutrients into your muscles.
Tuna, cottage cheese, and pineapple chunks
For a quick, simple, tasty, and healthy post-workout meal, this next suggestion is absolutely ideal. Tuna, cottage cheese, and pineapple chunks can be made in less than 2 minutes, it can be made in advance, and it will give your body everything it needs following a workout. The tuna for example, is rich in minerals and fast absorbing protein, which is essential for protein synthesis and post-workout recovery. The cottage cheese is also packed full of calcium and other minerals, and it too is rich in protein. The protein found in cottage cheese however, is mainly casein protein, which is a slow-digesting protein. This combined with the tuna is perfect because the protein from the tuna is absorbed right away, whereas the protein from the cottage cheese will be broken down and absorbed over the course of several hours. Again, the main reason why the pineapple chunks are added is for the simple fructose sugars to help spike insulin levels, although they do taste great with the two foods, and they’re also a great source of vitamins and antioxidants.
Hummus and wholegrain pita bread
Remember, not everybody is a meat eater, so how do they get their post-workout proteins without relying solely on vegan and vegetarian-friendly protein powders? Well, this next meal idea is absolutely ideal. Hummus and wholegrain pita bread is the perfect post-workout muscle building fuel for vegans, vegetarians, and anybody else who may feel like a change from meat, fish, eggs, and protein powders. Hummus is made from ground chickpeas as the primary ingredient, which are surprisingly high in natural proteins. The pita bread helps to balance things out and make the meal even healthier. Again, to help with insulin levels, switch the wholegrain pita for a white bread pita, which, as it contains simple sugars, will cause that spike you’re looking for.
Smoked salmon, toasted whole wheat bagel, cottage cheese, and almond butter
This is the ultimate post-workout meal/snack that is simple to make, and able to pack one heck of a muscle building punch. The smoked salmon, cottage cheese, and almond butter all provide proteins, as well as healthy fats from the salmon and almond butter. The whole wheat bagel provides the carbohydrates required, as well as some handy B vitamins and minerals in the process. Again, you can either make this meal/snack as soon after training as possible, or alternatively you can make it in advance and simply take it with you to the gym and tuck in after you rack up your final dumbbell.
Crackers, sweet chilli sauce, and tuna
The idea behind post-workout nutrition is to get the nutrients required for building muscle, into your body as quickly as you possibly can. For this reason, this post-workout meal is perfect. Simply take some tinned tuna chunks or flakes, add a pinch of salt and pepper, along with a touch of virgin olive oil, or sunflower oil, and mix. Spoon the mixture over a selection of wholegrain crackers, and drizzle a little sweet chilli sauce on top. This meal provides sugars for insulin spikes, proteins for protein synthesis, and carbohydrates for sustained energy release.