Feature image: Sarah Britton from My New Roots
About the Author: Toni McCann is an above average baker who is currently mastering the art of bread making, in-between running full time, a full time job, a part time job and doing her masters in nutrition. She also sometimes writes stuff (see below)
If you are reading this, I am are assuming you’re an athlete. And as an athlete, you know the importance of a good post workout dose of protein. The research all supports the ingestion of 10-30g of protein after a strenuous workout and/or when you need to ensure rapid recovery (such as in multi-day stage races). Physiologically exercise induces a lot of stress on your muscles which can result in micro-tears. When you properly fuel however, you are providing your body with the right tools necessary to repair, remodel and rebuild.
Ideally this post workout protein injection should be done in conjunction with a good source of carbohydrate/glucose in a ratio of 4:1 (carbohydrate: protein). This ensures the protein is broken down into amino acids and used for muscle repair and not converted into glucose and glycogen which is then used to restore depleted energy stores. The carbohydrate is used to replenish your energy stores, meaning the protein is used more effectively to remodel and repair. Say hello to a stronger, faster and more resilient runner.
But we aren’t here to talk physiology. The beginning of the year is generally the time people start playing with their diets – KETO, vegan, vegetarian, pescatarian, fruitarian, the list can go on and on and on. So, to help you stick to your New Years dietary resolutions, and make sure you get enough post-workout protein, we have come up with a recovery meal for each of you. You’re welcome.
VEGAN: Cocoa Steel Cut Oats with Soy milk
Oats are great in they naturally have the recommended ratio of carbs to protein and soy milk has a good whack of protein and added calcium as well. You could even go wild and do half oats, half quinoa to help bolster the protein intake as quinoa is a complete protein. Nut butters are great add-ins but keep them as a small addition, a drizzle on top. While they contains some protein, the fats slow digestion down, so absorption of the glucose and amino acids will be slowed (although research shows this doesn’t affect how much is absorbed).
- ½ cup raw oats [6g protein]
- 1 cup soymilk, unsweetened [7.5g protein]
- 1 zucchini, grated [1g protein]
- 1tbsp Cocoa powder [1g protein]
- 1 Guava fruit*, chopped [2g protein]
- 1 Tbsp cashew butter [2,5g complete protein]
- 1 Tbsp maple syrup/sweetener of choice (optional)
- SPICES: salt, pepper, cinnamon, clove, nutmeg (whatever you fancy – I’m loving nutmeg and clove at the moment)
Add the oats and soymilk to a pot, stir stir stir until its cooked and thickened, adding more soy milk or water as desired. Mix in the cocoa powder and a touch of salt. Pour it into a bowl and top it with the cashew butter, maple syrup and chopped fresh guava.
TOTAL PROTEIN: 20g of pure plant-based protein
*Other higher in protein fruits that are include: grapefruit, blackberries, apricots, peaches, banana
IMAGE: Good to Know
VEGETARIAN: Super Stumpie French Toast
Bread, the bread of life (and recovery apparently), and something delicious like eggy-steri-stumpy goodness can only make something delicious. Using egg whites here ensures you get a lot of protein and controlling the fat as the choc milk will be providing enough fat to help keep you full but not slow the digestion and recovery too much.
- 2 medium slices of good bread (sourdough, seed/grain bread) [±8-10g protein]
- 2 egg whites (or 1 whole egg) [6g protein]
- 60ml steri-stumpie [2g protein]
- 1 Tbsp almond butter [3.4g protein]
- Handful of berries or chopped up fruits
- Optional honey
Mix the egg white, steri-stumpie and any spices/salt together to make the custard mix. Then put your bread into the mix, let it soak up all that goodness and then flop it onto a preheated lightly oiled pan (or non-stick) on medium heat. Cook for 2-3minutes per side or until golden brown. Once cooked, put it neatly onto your plate, drizzle nicely with almond butter, berries and honey. Voila – 20g of protein on your plate, and Pinterest-worthy as well. If you really want to go wild (and increase the protein), dollop some greek yoghurt on top. Yes please!
TOTAL PROTEIN: 20g of pure LACTO-OVO veg protein
IMAGE: Diet Doctor; Lisa MarcAurele
KETO: Green eggs and Ham
Obviously this is the ‘easiest’ way to get protein in. No need to explain. It’s the modern, cheesier (and more delicious I think) take on the classic green eggs. Its good – even if you’re not on the whole high protein/high fat – low carb thing. You do you though. I’ve opted for cottage cheese as its lower in fat and higher in protein, and its the perfect blank canvas to zhoosh up with pesto, parmesan and chilies!
- ½ avocado [2g protein]
- ½ cup cottage cheese (low fat) [11g protein]
- 1 tbs grated parmesan [ 1.5g protein]
- 1 egg [6g protein]
- 1 tbs basil pesto [0.5g protein]
- Handful of baby tomatoes (roasted, pan fried or raw)
- 1 cup baby spinach (pan fried or raw)
Cut the avo in half, keeping it intact so you can use it as a bowl to stuff with all the good things to follow.
You have options now – either toss everything into a bowl, stir and then scramble in a non-stick pan over medium heat to make some seriously protein packed green eggs scramble. Serve it alongside your seasoned avo (salt, pepper and some lemon juice will work a charm).
Or you can keep it deconstructed. First, boil the egg, while the egg is boiling, stuff your avo half with the cottage cheese, basil pesto and parmesan. If you’re tired (not lazy) just mix the spinach and tomatoes with some salt, pepper and lemon juice and toss on the plate, or you can pan fry it over medium/high heat to make them warm and blistered. Peel the now cooked egg and voila. Done. Season with hot sauce, salt, pepper and various spices as you see fit.
TOTAL PROTEIN: 21g of pure KETO meat-head protein
Image: My New Roots
RAW FOOD VEGAN: Spritely Sprouted Hummus
They say that eating raw and vegan is no fun. You can decide for yourself, but one thing is for sure, this is a pretty solid way to get in those post workout amino acids and its pretty delicious to boot. Chickpeas are a great source of carbohydrates and protein, and when sprouted they become soft enough to process. It also helps to make the nutrients more bioavailable for absorption. Served alongside some raw veggies and you have a winning post workout snack, high in protein and vitamin C (great anti-inflammatory and aids in iron absorption)
- ¾ cup of sprouted chickpeas [15g protein]
- 1 tbs tahini [2g protein]
- 1 tbs cold pressed extra virgin olive oil
- Seasonings: cumin, salt, pepper, lemon juice, smoked paprika (endless options)
- ½ Cup chopped broccoli [2g protein]
- ½ Cup other veg [1g protein]
You can find sprouted garbanzo beans (chickpeas) in the shops, but you could also do this yourself if you’re so inclined. Blend the sprouted chickpeas with the tahini, olive oil, lemon juice, spices until smooth (or the consistency you like). Thin it as you wish with water. Serve alongside some chopped up vegies to dip and your favourite raw seed cracker (keep to a minimum because they are generally high in fat).
TOTAL PROTEIN: 20g of pure raw food vegan protein
Whatever the hell you want, any and/or all of the above.
I’m poking fun – but in reality, listening to your body and what it is needing is the best way to ensure you’re fueling correctly. Craving a peanut butter and banana smoothie – great. Want to smash a bowl of greek yoghurt with your favorite granola and fresh fruit? Smash it. Eggs on toast? Dhal? If it floats your boat and fulfills your nutritional goals then go for it. Lucky you. Keeping your meals balanced and varied with a combination of proteins, fats and carbohydrates will mean you’re unlikely to miss your protein targets for the day.
Nutrition choices are made based on a complex interplay between ethics, weight, health, and training and recovery goals. It’s simple and frustratingly hard at the same time. Tuning into your natural cravings, being mindful of hunger cues and satisfying them is a good place to start (obviously not the coke and bag of salty chips kind of cravings though – be reasonable). If you have any more questions – fire away below or shoot me a DM on Instagram/Facebook and they will be answered to the best of my ability.
Tried any of the recipes or have any post workout protein packed meals, we would love to hear about them in the comments below!