After a busy day or a late one in the office, just getting yourself to the gym can be a real challenge, let alone whipping up a post-workout meal when you finally get home. Many don't feel hungry at all, and others will be absolutely ravenous. Whichever camp you fall into, cooking anything complicated is out the question, but you still need to make sure your body has everything it needs to repair and recover overnight.
Our criteria? Anything that’s fast, filling, full of protein and carbs, but easy to digest before bed. Here are some of our favourite foods, paired with tasty protein-packed recipes - so no takeout is needed!
Think oats are just for breakfast? Think again. A bowl of oatmeal is ideal post-workout, whatever time of the day. The complex carbohydrates will help you to repair muscle tissue tears you’ve created during your workout. It’s also a source of melatonin which helps to regulate your sleep cycles, meaning it can be great for those who find it difficult to fall asleep. Make sure to add a sachet of protein to give your muscles what it needs.
Leafy Greens… or Dark Chocolate!
Magnesium is known as a natural sleep-promoting aid, so instead of popping pills, try some foods that are naturally high in magnesium. 1 cup of cooked spinach packs 157mg (39% RDI), or dark chocolate contains 114mg per 50g. If you don’t fancy a plate of greens at 10 pm, finish off your meal with a few squares of dark chocolate and a chamomile tea – exactly what you need to calm your body and get it ready for bed.
Slow-releasing protein (otherwise known as casein) gives your body a steady release of nutrients, ideal for endurance athletes or when taken before bed to keep your body nourished overnight. For those who still want to reap the benefits of a slow-releasing supplement, try mixing a sachet of Whey Protein with 400ml of milk (ideally half & half or full fat). In its natural form cow’s milk is 80% casein, so it’s an ideal choice to slow down the digestion of your whey-based shake.
You could even throw in some nut butter too, as the healthy fats, protein, and dietary fibre will also help to slow down absorption; perfect for those who prefer something light right before they sleep.
Not many dinners can be knocked up quicker than an omelette. Throw in some veggies, pair with rice or sweet potato and you’ve got everything you need post workout. They’re a great source of protein, to prevent your muscles from breaking down post-workout. The healthy fats should keep you full too; because no-one wants to wake up ravenous in the middle of the night. Not in the mood for savoury food? Add them into a batch of protein pancakes instead – job done.
A Note on Electrolytes
Whatever you choose to refuel with, coconut water (or just adding a touch of sea salt into your water), is a great idea to get some quick electrolytes in. Why? Going to sleep soon after your workout will double your dehydration, so rebalancing your salt levels will help you to avoid waking up feeling depleted.