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Our bodies need to rest and recover in order to repair and grow. Recovery is just as important as exercise, and that goes for recovery meals too. Certain types of foods have been shown to be more beneficial during the recovery process than others. Whether you’re looking to rally after a long run or help those muscles after you’ve lifted weights will dictate what type of meal you indulge in afterwards.
Each type of exercise requires a different type of meal after recovery. While a protein rich meal may be necessary after a strength training workout, a carb rich meal may work better for endurance athletes.
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Your recovery meal will probably look different depending on when you exercise too. A bowl of pasta might be perfect at 6pm, but probably isn’t what you’ll be making at 6am. Regardless though, the important part is making sure you get all of those macronutrients.
The Samsung food app (download it here for free!) allows you to create your own meal plan using any recipes from across the web. If you are looking for a specific macronutrient-rich meal you can search for high protein or high carb. Or you could take your favorite recipe and adapt it to suit your recovery needs – we instantly update the nutritional information as you swap and substitute to your heart’s content.
Or you could just let us do the work for you and save our suggestions for perfect recovery meals to your app. More time to focus on your workout, right?!
The best recovery meal for strength training
Protein rich meals are ideal after strength training. This is because protein is essential in helping repair the muscles that were broken down during exercise. You can read more about how different types of protein contribute to muscle protein synthesis – but the important thing is that you get all nine of those essential amino acids, especially the branched chain amino acids.
Choose a high-quality, complete source of protein for muscle building. This means you’re looking for something which gives you around 20-40 grams of protein and which is rich in the essential amino acids.
This Korean dish can be eaten for breakfast, lunch, or dinner. It is packed with 23.68 grams of protein. The ground beef and eggs make it a leucine rich meal that is beneficial for muscle protein synthesis. This recipe is very versatile and forgiving.
The jasmine rice can be swapped out for quinoa, brown rice, farro, or any favorite grain. Quinoa is a particularly good choice, as it is a complete protein in itself too.
The egg can be cooked to your preference but sunny side up is the most traditional for this dish. Ground beef is usually the star but you could use sliced steak as well. Adding an extra egg to the bowl will boost up leucine content and protein. The addition of vegetables add fiber and nutrients.
The best recovery meal for endurance exercise
Carbs are key for endurance athletes such as cyclists, swimmers, and marathon runners. Carbs are beneficial due to their ability to quickly replace glycogen stores after exercise. Increasing protein intake in endurance athletes has been shown to be beneficial during recovery. It is believed that females require more carbohydrates than males due to different metabolism processes. It is always recommended to hydrate yourself with water along with these meals.
A nice warm bowl of soup is always comforting after a long run or swim. The beans and quinoa make this protein rich and filled with fiber. Beans are also rich in carbs which help replenish glycogen stores.
What to eat after cardio exercise
Cardio exercise includes running, elliptical, and various types of aerobic classes.
The time and intensity spent exercising needs to be taken into consideration when planning to refuel after your cardio session. It is also important to keep in mind what was consumed prior to exercising. While strength training helps to build muscle, cardio helps with weight loss and has cardiovascular benefits.
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Replacing glycogen stores are important to refuel after exercising, glycogen can become depleted depending on length and intensity of a workout. Carbohydrates are a great way to increase glycogen stores. In addition to carbs, fluid replacement is also key after cardio. Cardio exercise may cause sweating and loss of fluids, it is important to replace.
Pasta salad is a nice meal for after cardio because it can be made in advance. Nothing is easier than already having a meal waiting for you after your exercise. The pasta is rich in carbs. A bunch of veggies give you fiber and micronutrients – and the olive oil? Well, that helps with absorption of the fat soluble vitamins from all those vegetables. This meal only contains 11g protein but you can bump that number up by adding some chicken, beans, or tinned tuna.
Eating after HIIT
High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) is a combination of both strength training and cardio. The purpose of HIIT exercises is to do short bursts of intense exercise with minimal rest in between. Muscle building may come from weight bearing or resistance exercises but at a fast pace that gives the cardio aspect.
Since this is technically a combination exercise, a combo of protein and carbs are necessary for refueling. Protein is needed for muscle repair and carbs help replace the glycogen stores. Hydration is also key, as a lot of fluid may have been lost due to sweating from the cardio aspect.
For those that love to start their day with a workout routine, overnight oats are an easy breakfast! Overnight oats have become popular over the years due to their ease and versatility. There are countless ways to make this meal and it can be made overnight, which saves so much time in the morning. This recipe contains 23.25 grams of protein in each serving and almost 70 grams of carbs.
You can always use this recipe as a base and switch up some flavor profiles. Instead of frozen berries, you can add some apples and cinnamon, or even peanut butter for some extra protein.
Refuel and recover with balance
Overall, balance is always key. While protein may be more beneficial for muscle repair and growth, carbs are responsible for replenishing glycogen stores.
It is also important to be mindful of how certain meals make you feel and how your body responds before, during, and after exercising. What works for you might not be right for the next person.