This article was created in partnership with Healthy Choice.
So you've had an incredible workout, and now it's time to continue the effort with a meal to match. But finding the right balance of protein, carbs, fiber, and fats can make you wish you were back to squatting instead. The thing is, eating right isn't as complicated as it might seem. Enjoying a great post-workout meal really just comes down to planning. In fact, no-prep meals like Healthy Choice Max Bowls make it downright easy, not to mention the taste (more on that below).
Step one, according to Scott Tindal, a performance nutrition coach and co-founder and chief nutrition officer at Fuelin, a company that provides athletes with personalized, sport-specific nutrition advice, suggests identifying the purpose of your training. "Is it high-performance, like training for a sporting event, or is it focused on body composition? That determines total calorie intake and the way you'll feel on a daily basis," he says.
Before we get into the details of what makes a quality post-workout meal, it's important to understand that training and nutrition go hand-in-hand. "Exercise is only as good as the nutrition that supports it," says Tindal. "Don't expect that eating more protein will make you some kind of hunk. You have to put in the work.”
This is how you access meals that optimize your body and thus your general well-being.
1. Look for high protein foods
While protein isn't magic muscle building, it's one of the keys to post-workout refueling. About 1.6 or 1.7 grams per kilogram of body weight is recommended for muscle building. But to avoid falling short, Tindal suggests going somewhere between 2 and 2.5 grams per kilogram. When you eat protein, a higher percentage of those calories are used to metabolize what you eat (known as the thermic effect of food) than when you eat carbohydrates or fat. Also, high-protein meals tend to improve feelings of fullness and satiety. With 33-34 grams of protein per serving, Healthy Choice Max Bowls are an excellent option for reaching your ideal daily protein quota.
Keep in mind, says Tindal, that this formula assumes there aren't any underlying health issues that might prevent you from consuming high amounts of protein. If you are not sure, ask your doctor.
2. Fill up on fiber
Tindal notes that the average daily consumption of fruits and vegetables in the US is small, about 2 or fewer servings per day when it should be between 5 and 9. He advises aiming for 6 servings, or "six fists" if you need one visually. This will also help you get an optimal amount of fiber in your diet, ideally around 25 grams or more. With ingredients like black beans, roasted sweetcorn, red bell pepper, edamame, leafy greens and zucchini, Healthy Choice Max Bowls are an excellent source of fiber. Healthy Choice Max Tex Mex Chicken Bowl, for example, has 12 grams.
Healthy Choice Max Tex Mex Chicken Bowl Healthy choice
3. Supplement it with good carbohydrates
After protein, high-carb foods will make up the rest of your caloric intake. Tindal advocates a carb goal balanced with the amount of protein you eat - so if you're aiming for 150 grams of protein, a similar amount of carbs is a good place to start. More importantly, you should focus on whole foods, with "a majority of these carbohydrate sources coming from vegetables and salads," he says. After vegetables, Tindal recommends eating root vegetables and fruits, as well as rice, grains, legumes (think beans, lentils, and peas), and pasta, especially if you have more body mass and need to consume more carbohydrates to meet your daily quota ( 2 to 5 grams per kilogram of body weight). Carbs also prepare your body for tomorrow's workout by replenishing glycogen stores.
4. Avoid high-fat foods
"Fat is the highest calorie macronutrient," says Tindal. Fats are certainly not bad, but they offer the best bang for your buck when it comes to helping you feel full and providing energy. Choose your fats wisely and opt for monounsaturated fats like olive oil, avocados and almonds along with omega-3 fats found in small, oily fish. Aiming for about 0.8 to 0.9 grams per pound of body weight is a good starting point. With only 4 to 7 grams of monounsaturated fat and 9 to 14 grams of fat per serving, Healthy Choice Max Bowls hit the spot.
5. Eat complex and complete meals
While improving your body composition and building muscle requires you to burn more calories than you expend, it doesn't mean you have to be hungry or eat small meals. Often the opposite is the case. "If you don't eat, you're not going to feel good about exercising," says Tindal. This could lead to inconsistencies in your routine, low energy levels, reduced effort, and in turn, prevent you from achieving your overall exercise goals. Tindal says, "If your protein intake is high and you're eating a lot of fruits and vegetables, you're going to eat a lot, probably more food than you're used to."
6. Save time with the right ready meal
Between your commute, work, workout, and your other daily commitments, you probably don't have the time to prepare every meal from raw ingredients. But that doesn't mean you have to succumb to the temptation to order delivery. "You may not have a way to quantify the amount of food or calories you eat when you eat takeout," says Tindal. So how do you make healthy eating a less of a chore? Grab frozen meals like Healthy Choice Max Bowls that meet the rest of the parameters above for a healthy, active lifestyle and are ready in the time it takes to place an order.
For more inspired post-workout meal ideas, visit Healthy Choice.com or shop on Instacart now.
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