Nutrition and fitness go hand-in-hand, meaning you have to prioritize both if you want the best results. That includes eating a post-workout meal or snack that gives your body exactly what it needs to build the muscle you worked so hard for in the gym.
Figuring out exactly what you need might sound complicated, but it’s actually pretty simple. Here’s a breakdown of what you need and how to get it, plus an easy vegan post-workout smoothie recipe to try after your next workout.
Why you should refuel after a workout
Refueling your body after you push your muscles to fatigue is just as important as the workout itself. That’s because when you workout, two things happen:
- You deplete the glycogen stores in your muscle. Glycogen is the muscle’s preferred source of fuel.
- When you work the muscles to fatigue, you break down protein and muscle fiber.
To properly recover and rebuild muscle, you have to replenish glycogen and protein. Glycogen comes from carbohydrates, meaning that carbs should definitely make up a large part of your recovery meal. Eating carb-rich foods like fruit, whole wheat bread, oatmeal, and rice helps your body make and restore your glycogen stores, so the muscle can rebuild.
Protein is another major nutrient for post-workout recovery. It’s the main building block for building new muscle tissue, which is how you get stronger and see results from your workouts.
The sooner you refuel after a workout the better. Experts recommend eating some kind of post-workout meal within 45 minutes to an hour after your workout. If you wait much longer, you could slow down the process of making more glycogen, and therefore recovery.
Benefits of Pea Protein Post-Workout
The most common type of post-workout protein is whey protein powder. However, choosing pea protein has its own benefits.
First, pea protein is vegan. It’s a complete protein, meaning it provides all of the necessary amino acids that your body cannot make. Therefore, it’s the best plant-based protein option for anyone trying to avoid or limit animal products in their diet. It’s also a great source of iron, another nutrient that many people on a vegan diet struggle to fit into their diets.
Pea protein powder is also a great supplement for anyone with a sensitivity to dairy. People who are lactose intolerant might experience uncomfortable symptoms like gas, bloating and nausea when they use whey or casein protein powder.
Pea protein however is hypoallergenic and easy on sensitive stomachs. Especially if you use Naked Nutritions’ pea protein powder, which is made exclusively with raw yellow peas grown in the USA and Canada.
Finally, pea protein is known to blend well with water, making it easier to use than some other plant-based protein powders.
Other Beneficial Ingredients to Promote Recovery
The base of a good post-workout meal should be protein and carbs. But there are other ingredients you can include to boost recovery.
Antioxidant-rich fruits and vegetables
Antioxidants like vitamin C and vitamin E help the muscles recover at a cellular level. Basically, antioxidants protect against free radicals, which can damage the cells. Less cell damage means more healthy cells for rebuilding muscle tissue. To boost the antioxidants in your post-workout meal, include foods like berries, dark leafy greens, carrots, bell pepper and sweet potatoes.
Sources of heart-healthy fats
Eating healthy fats (like omega-3 fatty acids) after a workout will slow digestion and keep you full longer. However, it won’t slow down the absorption of the nutrients you need for recovery. These fats are also known for reducing inflammation and protecting the joints. Foods you could include in your post-workout meal include nuts and nut butters, flax and chia seeds, and fortified foods like milk and eggs.
How to Make A Vegan Mixed Berry Post-Workout Smoothie
This post-workout smoothie checks all of the boxes. The vegan pea protein won’t leave you short on protein to rebuild muscle, and the fruit will maximize your workout recovery with antioxidants and carbohydrates to refuel your muscles.
- 1 cup mixed frozen berries
- 1/2 medium banana, sliced and frozen
- 2 tsp chia seeds
- 1 scoops Naked Pea Protein
- 1/2 cup unsweetened almond milk
Place all ingredients in a blender and blend until smooth. If the smoothie is too thick, add a little almond milk.
Nutrition: 266 calories, 5g fat, 43g carbohydrates, 17g protein
About Breanna Woods, MS RD
Breanna Woods is a registered dietitian with over 5 years of experience in the clinical field. She has a master’s degree in food and nutrition, and strives to guide others to a healthy lifestyle.