10 Post-workout meals for muscle gains
We always seem to get asked, "What should I eat after my workout?" - well, the answers depend on what you're looking to achieve. For most of us, we're looking for muscle gains and a more toned, honed physique - we want to look as good as we feel after our workouts, so eating the right diet is essential. You probably already know it's important to get plenty of protein into your post-workout meals, but it's easy to lack inspiration and find yourself eating the same boring, bland things time and again. Bad news for your healthy diet! If you're struggling for ideas, we have 10 great ideas for post-workout meals that will boost muscle gains and help you to build a leaner, stronger body from the inside out. Ready? Let's go.
#1. Steak your claim to a better body
Yeah, yeah. We know that steak is a fantastic source of protein, but is it always the healthiest choice? Team a grass-fed steak cooked to your liking with sweet potato fries or wedges and some sour cream and you have the perfect post-workout meal that includes complex carbs and plenty of protein for muscle gains. Yum!
#2. Try a Mexican style lunch
After a lunchtime workout, you want something hearty, filling and satisfying. So try a Mexican-style lunch that's portable and easy to prepare. A bowl of brown rice, avocado, tuna and kidney beans will give your muscles the protein they need for repair and it's easy to spice things up with a splash of sweet chilli or Sriracha sauce, if you like!
#3. Post-gym Mediterranean muscle
Chicken is a fantastic, lean source of protein that's ideal for a post-workout fix. Just 100g of chicken provides 18g of protein as well as the amino acid leucine, which helps your body to convert protein into muscle. Chicken is also a source of anti-inflammatory omega-3s. Try some of our ideas to spice up plain, boring chicken breasts and turn them into something more exciting!
#4. Protein-rich cottage pie
Cottage pie already contains minced beef, loaded with protein, but this version from Men's Health ups the protein content by mixing egg yolks in with the potato topping. With 47g of protein per serving, we think this is a super-healthy version of the traditional classic that's perfect for after your workout!
#5. Lighter post-workout eating
Build your muscles (and boost your brain power) with a healthy mackerel salad. Mackerel is an oily fish that's rich in omega-3s, essential for healthy brain development, and it also contains lots of protein. Combine it with some courgette (we like to make courgetti using a spiralizer), mint and a light viniagrette and you have the perfect lighter post-workout option.
#6. Duck that muscle loss
Pumping up your diet with protein is the key to ensuring your muscles get the nutrients they need to repair themselves and grow stronger and bigger. The average duck breast contains a whopping 30g of protein and, if you take the skin off, comparatively little fat. Enjoy your duck as part of a stir fry or try this oriental duck salad recipe with 34g of protein per serving.
#7. If at first you don't succeed, Thai, Thai, Thai again
We love this Men's Health recipe for a leaner take on a Thai curry that's perfect for after a tough session with your personal trainer. Using fish instead of chicken gives this recipe a fresh take, whilst the coconut helps you to burn extra calories. With 45 of protein per serving, this is one recipe we'll be making regularly after our workouts!
#8. Beef up your greens
Adding lean sliced steak to your salads is a great way to up their protein content whilst getting your five a day. Opt for an Asian-inspired noodle salad if you're not cutting out carbs, or try this Vietnamese version with 33g of protein per serving - it calls for minced beef but you could just as easily use sliced steak.
#9. Fine tuna your post-workout meal
Tuna is one of our favourite options for a quick protein hit - when you have nothing else to hand, you'll usually be able to find a tin of tuna in the cupboard. Loaded with omega-3s, all you need are a few salad ingredients such as red and yellow peppers, salad leaves - we recommend baby spinach which can help to ease muscle soreness - some olives and maybe a hard boiled egg. Delicious!
#10. Boost your brain
Not just great for muscles, omega-3 helps to ensure rapid recovery and salmon is also packed with vitamins B6 and B12 which give you the energy you need to get on with your day. Simple grilled salmon with brown rice and the veggies of your choice (we love broccoli or green beans) is a healthy option that provides between 30 and 40g of protein per average salmon steak. For more ways to enjoy salmon, we have a few ideas here.