It’s that time of year where new workout routines and gym memberships are motivating us to get moving. Remember, building a new lifestyle requires consistent commitment to habit changes. While small changes are key, it is important that as we succeed, we build on the habit. For instance, maybe you are really loving your fitness goals, but haven’t quite figured out the food piece. I often hear clients express their frustration at increased hunger related to their workouts and frequently the sub par eating habits that persist. Unfortunately, working out on its own isn’t enough to change your body and health. What we eat, particularly after we exercise, matters.
Post-workout we want complex carbs which will help to refill our energy stores, and preserve muscle from being broken down. Complex carbs might include whole grains, or starchy vegetables like sweet potatoes, or fruit. Of course, protein is key for building strong bodies. Protein helps us maintain muscle we have and build new muscle. Quality protein also helps with meal satisfaction, which can help limit nighttime snack cravings.
When it comes to eating post-workout, I love refueling with beef. Beef is a nutrient-dense food that provides 10 essential nutrients including iron and about 25 grams of quality protein to help us recover.
Important note: Beef can only be claimed as “LEAN” if the cut of beef is less than 8.5 grams (g) total fat, 3.8g or less saturated fat, and less than 80 milligrams of cholesterol per 85g serving (about 3 ounces by weight).
Find out more about beefs nutrient profile here.
With your new workouts taking up more of your time, you want meals that are simple and easy to make ahead. Here are some ideas to keep you fueled and strong.
Lightened up spaghetti and meatballs
Protein: Use a lean ground beef (at least 95% lean ground beef) mixed with defrosted frozen spinach and italian spices to form simple meatballs that you can bake in the oven at 400 degrees for about 20 minutes.
Carbohydrate: Balance a serving of whole grain or legume based pasta (~1c cooked) with plenty of vegetables. I like to add spaghetti squash or zucchini noodles to keep my carbohydrate portion moderate.
Top with your favorite marinara sauce and cheese for a satisfying meal.
Protein: Use a lean ground beef with your favorite taco seasoning! Talk about satisfying!
Carbohydrate: Add brown rice (~½ c) to the salad for your carbohydrates.
Add plenty of veggies including leafy green lettuce, corn, peppers, and avocado! This satisfying meal is the perfect refueling meal you will actually look forward to eating!
Here are some great snack ideas
Beef jerky + mixed nuts. This is my favorite daytime snack, especially after a morning workout. I know my body is constantly rebuilding all day long, and even more so after a tough workout. Including some protein from beef jerky into my snacks helps me support that process.
Fruit and cheese. A cheddar cheese stick provides about 8 grams of protein. Pair that with fruit can serve as a great post workout snack to tie you over until your next meal, or a great midday snack after a tough morning workout.
So let me know, how do you prefer to refuel after a tough workout?
Post content is sponsored by the Northeast Beef Promotion Initiative, a contractor to the Beef Checkoff Program. All opinions and meal ideas are my own.