When we hear about protein after a workout, the thought of bulky men carrying around their tumblers full of powdered mix and water probably comes to mind. Or large containers wrapped with cellophane stamped with “SUPER MASS GAINER” that promise high calories and proven results.
For years, I would hit the gym thinking that protein was only for men trying to bulk up. The powders seemed unnecessary and confusing, so I kept my distance. It wasn’t until I started working at a gym and juice bar, mixing smoothies for lithe woman after spinning class, that I realized I had been doing my post-workout tradition all wrong.
Protein, it turns out, is crucial to rebuilding and regenerating muscles. To reap all of the benefits of a great workout, getting in a smoothie, some lean meats or other sources of protein within 20 minutes can speed up the process of your muscle toning and tightening. In fact, according to Shape Magazine, adding protein to your diet will burn the most calories after you eat it — it keeps your metabolism high during the day, burning off even more calories than those you sweat out on the treadmill.
The trick is to keep your post-workout meals small (yet potent) enough that you aren’t eating back all of the calories you just burned off. Sarah Fit says to keep it under 200 calories. If you’re going for #thegains, it’s all about getting in the calories, carbs and protein to get your muscle mass up to what you want it to be.
So where do you get protein? It’s as simple as some greek yogurt with granola, a fruit smoothie with powdered protein added, peanut butter and an apple or a small piece of chicken with quinoa. Sticking to clean eating makes getting protein in easier than you might think, and access to getting powdered protein is simple to pick up at your nearest grocery store.
For women, you have the option between soy, egg-white or whey proteins, or, if you’re vegan and avoiding GMO’s in soy, rice protein can also be an option. (Whey protein comes from cows, so it isn’t the best option for people avoiding animal by-products, however, don’t worry about being lactose intolerant and eating soy – there’s hardly any in the whey.)
Jay Robb’s protein has been my go-to for the past four years, and I recommend it highly to anyone searching to supplement their diet with protein post-workout. The brand offers egg-white protein and whey protein, with no additives, non-GMO, from grass-fed cows and, as I can personally attest, delicious.
Other options include whichever protein you found on sale in the market: as long as you’re getting in that protein boost, the brand matters very little.
If you’re still trying to figure out how you’re supposed to take a powder supplement and turn it into a post-workout meal, here are a few different recipes you can try until you find a few that work best for you:
Chunky Monkey Smoothie: Featured in this month’s GFFC newsletter!
Protein Pancakes: A delicious way to get in your carbs and protein after a workout. I love to pair with a tablespoon of Nutella and strawberries!
Simple Protein Shake : Add milk or water to your protein powder, shake and drink up
Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Dip: Mix in your vanilla flavored protein with plain greek yogurt, chocolate chips, honey or natural syrup and stir! Eat alone or with apple slices.
How do you like to get your protein in? Let us know in the comments below!