If you want to get the most out of your training, it’s best not to take your post-workout nutrition too lightly. Make note of these after-burn nutrition guidelines to recharge like a pro:
Better together. It’s a good idea to team up carbohydrates and protein shortly after exercise cessation—carbs are used to replenish spent energy stores, and protein is needed to help repair muscular damage and encourage your muscles to become stronger in response to training. Pair them in a 4:1 ratio following endurance exercise, and closer to a 2:1 ratio following resistance exercise Endurance athletes need carbs to replenish their glycogen stocks, and the best way to do so is to consume roughly 1.25 to 1.5 grams of carbohydrates per 1 kilogram of body weight. For the resistance athlete, research has found that about 20 grams of protein following exercise is enough to speed muscle repair and growth.
Don’t dawdle. Shortly after exercise, your body is primed to take up nutrients and distribute them wherever needed. That means you want to make it a priority to seek out recovery food before or soon after hitting the shower. Wait too long for your smoothie or other post-training nourishment and you could end up with muscles that aren’t fully recharged, resulting in poor subsequent exercise performance. So do your best to send something down the hatch within 60 minutes of finishing your workout.
Recipe: Salted Quinoa Almond Fudge Cups
Every good deed deserves a reward. So after a health-boosting workout, why not luxuriate in some fudge? Of course, this version has more of what you need to recover well than any typical store-bought fudge. Case in point: I’ve worked in some protein powder, banana, and quinoa puffs for extra recovery protein and carbohydrates.
Dairy-free, Freezer-friendly, Gluten-free, Vegan or Vegetarian
Active Time: 20 min.
No mini-muffin tray? You can also mold the fudge in lightly greased ice cube trays. You may need to use a butter knife to unmold the set fudge pieces.
½ cup almond butter
½ cup protein powder
1/3 cup softened coconut oil
¼ cup cocoa powder
¼ cup pure maple syrup
1 medium-sized ripe banana
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 cup quinoa puffs
1 teaspoon flaky salt, such as fleur de sel or Maldon
Place almond butter, protein powder, coconut oil, cocoa powder, maple syrup, banana, vanilla, and cinnamon in a food processor or blender and blend until smooth. Pulse in quinoa puffs.
Divide mixture among 24 silicone mini-muffin cups or paper-lined metal mini-muffin cups. Sprinkle salt over tops. Place tray in freezer until set, about 1 hour. The fudge cups will remain fairly soft and won’t freeze solid. Unmold fudge cups and keep in an airtight container or zip-top bag in the freezer for up to 1 month. They can also be transported to an event in a cooler.
Game Changers: Swap out almond butter for peanut butter + Sweeten with brown rice syrup or honey instead of maple syrup + Replace quinoa puffs with other small cereal puffs, such as millet
Adapted with permission of VeloPress from Rocket Fuel: Power-Packed Food for Sports and Adventure by Matthew Kadey, RD. Try free recipes at Rocketfuelfoods.net.
Matthew Kadey is a James Beard Award-winning food journalist, registered dietitian, and recipe developer. See his work at Mattkadey.com.