When you finish your workout, the work for your body is far from over. It has to regenerate all the damaged muscle fibers and restore energy supplies in your body’s tissues. To help it with that, we have to eat a healthy mix of proteins and carbohydrates in the first 2 hours after training and this is why I wanted to give you a few post-workout foods to promote fat burning that are easily accessible and also very delicious.
Those foods will promote recovery, restore your body’s supplies and allow you to be better prepared for your next workout. The food you eat directly after training also affects your rest period and how much time it will take your time to fully recover.
Post-Workout Fat Burning Foods
There are quite a few foods that will promote post-workout fat burning and recovery but I wanted to handpick some of my favorite ones and give you a little further information about each of those. Here is the list of the 8 foods that I selected:
- Chicken breasts
- Hot Peppers
There are three things that your body needs after a workout – carbohydrates, protein, and electrolytes. Some of the foods on this list contain a healthy combination of these, while others focus on one group of nutrients only. Creating a good mix is one of your most important tasks, as only supplying one of the three won’t cut it. Now, let’s start with one of nature’s superfoods…
Milk, apart from being densely nutritious, is also a great source for protein and carbohydrates which can supplement your body’s needs after a heavy workout. While many people think milk leads to weight gain, low-fat milk has been shown to improve post-workout fat loss and helps you maintain the desired weight. The calcium in it also reduces weight gains around your abdominal area over time and helps with your joints and bones’ health. If you want a sweet treat after your training session is over, mixing low-fat milk with berries or other fruits is one of your best alternatives. Mixing it with various powdered proteins and recovery supplements is also a great way to ingest it.
One of the best ways known methods to supplement high amounts of protein to your body’s muscles is meat. Chicken and turkey breasts, in particular, are a good source of large amounts of protein combined with low-fat concentrations. These meats also contain large amounts of iron which is crucial for a lot of your body’s systems and helps us maintain our weight loss goals in the long run. By adding iron, you also increase your blood’s haemoglobin levels which, in turn, helps move more oxygen from your circulatory system to your tissues. That helps with the proper supply of oxygen to the muscle tissue and prevents anaemic episodes.
Other great lean sources of protein are also lentils, various whole grains (more on that shortly), and leafy greens such as spinach. You can already guess how helpful a turkey breast sandwich with whole-grain bread and spinach is, right?
While not necessarily food on their own, hot peppers are rich on capsaicin which is a substance that helps our bodies raise their core temperature which naturally makes us burn more fuel to sustain it. It helps our muscles and joints relax and keeps the calorie-burning machine going even after the workout. The rule of thumb is that spicier peppers have more capsaicin in them, meaning better weight-loss and weight management results.
Now, let’s talk about everyone’s favorite…
Oatmeal and other whole-grains are usually very low on fat and cholesterol while containing a decent amount of carbohydrates, most of which is dietary (soluble) fiber. Surprisingly, oatmeal has a few grams of protein per 100g which is also a good addition to your snack if you decide to go for the famous milk and oatmeal combination.
Just like meat, spinach, and lentils, oatmeal has high amounts of iron in it, combined with Vitamins B6, A, magnesium, and calcium.
Switching your refined grains for whole grains might also help you tackle the potential risk of metabolic syndrome, which is a growing health concern in the United States. Apart from the exercise recovery benefits, whole-grains like oatmeal brown rice or cereal also helps with your gastrointestinal tract running smoothly which is one of the key components of weight management. Or in other words, the healthier the gut, the better the weight-loss results.
Fish is another meal known for its high protein count. That makes it an excellent choice for a post-workout meal. Since there is much fish out there, you can choose any one type that is low on fats, even though the fats in fish are really rich on fatty acids such as omega-3. These fatty acids are responsible for a lowered risk of coronary disease and also reduce inflammation throughout the body.
When we sweat we lose a lot of water. With that water, our bodies also excrete a lot of microelements such as potassium, sodium, chloride, and even some protein-breakdown products such as urea. We also excrete various toxins with sweat. Still, sweat mostly accounts for most of our water losses during workouts.
That same water has to be immediately replenished in our bodies after the training session is over and with it, we also have to restore our electrolytes. Some electrolyte-rich drinks do just that but the best way of naturally doing it is by eating fruits such as bananas, oranges, kiwis, and various berries. Combine that with yoghurt and you get a mineral-rich watery meal that is surely going to rehydrate your body. The better hydrated you are, the more efficient your metabolism will be, resulting in better weight-management results. If your workouts are larger than an hour, make sure you consume drinks or fruits that are high on sodium.
To learn whether or not we burn more calories when we sweat, click here.
Foods aside, there are herbs and tea which also promote fat burning. One of the main roles in that regard is given to the green tea. Let’s find out why…
How Green Tea Can Help
Green tea is very rich on caffeine and produces a much more sustainable level of energy for your body over the following few hours. Caffeine boosts your metabolism and energy levels, resulting in more calories burned after your workout and less fatigue on the next day.
Green tea is also full of antioxidants such as EGCG which despite its antioxidant effects has a calorie-burning one too. In other words, drinking a nice cup of iced green tea after your workout is also a good way to rehydrate and replenish your body’s energy levels.
What is a good post-workout mix of foods?
Apart from the already listed foods, there is a simple rule of thumb you can follow for the basic post-workout bodily needs. For any post-workout meal, you can try following the 20-60 rule which consists of supplementing your body with 20 grams of protein and roughly 60 grams of carbohydrates. Those should be enough to help your muscles recover and help your body restore its energy supplies in the form of glycogen. A good example of a similar meal is a chicken sandwich with a banana. The sandwich contains whole-grain carbohydrates, spinach, protein from the chicken breasts and the low-fat cheese, while the banana restores potassium and carbohydrate levels.
Can a post-workout protein shake replace this all?
In short, yes. This is why many companies have specialized in creating the perfect post-workout snacks with the ideal protein to carbohydrates ratio. That, combined with an electrolyte drink is all that you will basically need after a heavy workout. Protein powders are very dense in protein and some even have a high amount of carbohydrates in them exactly for the reasons I previously mentioned. When mixed with water or milk, these powders create a quick recovery mix for your body that can be fully absorbed in no time and will help you recover faster. Still, it is hard to replicate the naturally rich nutrition values of foods, so I’d always recommend a well-mixed meal and some water after a workout as opposed to protein shakes and other post-workout snacks.
One of the best ways to gauge how much nutrition your body will need after the workout is monitoring the workout itself. That can be either done by calculating the duration and intensity of the exercises or simply using a tracker to measure your heart rate throughout the different stages of the session. If you are looking for a new waterproof fitness tracker, make sure you check out my detailed Guide on the topic where I’ve gone quite in-depth into the newest models on the market!
Some of the best post-workout foods to promote fat burning are already in your kitchen and you probably never even knew about them. Even if you don’t have the right food in-store, you can always go for other types of food which will be enough to restore the needed protein and carbohydrate levels. Fat loss and fat burning are all about balance. Keeping your body starving after you are done training is no way to maintain healthy levels of fat burning. In fact, that might have the complete opposite effect on you. This is why meals and hydration should be one of your main priorities when you get back from the gym.