Despite popular belief, chugging down protein shakes and knifing apart large steaks are not the primary answers to swelled muscle and lean body mass. In fact, these 10 workout recovery foods offer ample protein to help your body recover from strenuous exercise.

How Much Protein For Muscle Repair?

The general population needs an average of 0.8g of protein per pound of body weight (g/lb). Add in activity levels, and the protein recommendation is bulked, though degrees of variation also depends on the type of physical training. Recreational athletes should aim for 1.1 to 1.4 g/lb. The general rule of thumb is 1.2 to 1.4 g/lb for endurance athletes, whereas strength athletes often require a higher intake of 1.2 to 1.7 g/lb. Some athletes may even require up to 2.0 to 2.5 g/lb.

Workout Recovery Foods

In addition to protein quantity, you should also consider quality. Complete proteins containing all essential amino acids are often encouraged to stimulate protein synthesis best. But a healthy source of carbohydrates should also complement protein to replenish glycogen stores and stabilize blood sugars as the muscles take up available energy following exercise. Consuming a protein-rich meal is best within one to two hours of exercise, with protein consistently spaced with meals throughout the day.

Animal Proteins

1. Chicken

Chicken is a recognized muscle recovery food for an obvious reason; just 3-ounces of skinless chicken offers 28g of protein! Though relying on chicken may become monotonous, the flavors of chicken are ever-evolving.

2. Tuna

Tuna packs 22g of protein per 3-ounces! For quick convenience, canned or individually-sealed tuna can be a handy option. Pair with freshly cut veggies or whole-grain crackers for a sensible, muscle recovery snack. Its Omega-3 Fatty Acid content can further reduce and protect against inflammation within the body following a rigorous workout.

3. Cow’s Milk

Regular cow’s milk is a useful, balanced muscle recovery food, as its natural carb content offers glycogen repletion while its 8g of protein (per cup) fosters muscle repair! Additionally, milk contains both whey (fast-acting) and casein (slow-acting) proteins, each appreciated for muscle repair and synthesis.

4. Cottage Cheese

Being produced from milk, cottage cheese certainly boasts some attention. In fact, a mere 1/2 cup of cottage cheese supplies 14g of protein! Cottage cheese can be mixed into smoothies or paired with fresh peaches, pears, and pineapple.

5. Greek Yogurt

Swapping out traditional yogurt with Greek yogurt is a simple way to boost protein content. One cup (or 8-ounces) of nonfat Greek Yogurt supplies 11g of protein. However, it is important to resort to plain yogurt, as flavored products can be packed with added sugars! Naturally sweeten yogurt with a drizzle of honey or fruit, if desired.

6. Eggs

Weightlifters have been gulping down raw egg whites for centuries to obtain quick protein. However, doing so can be harmful, as the whites can interfere with biotin absorption and raise the risk of foodborne illness. When the white is thoroughly cooked through, it can be an invaluable muscle recovery food, as one medium-sized egg supplies 6g of protein. Enjoy eggs hardboiled, sunny-side-up, or scrambled! Paired with sliced peppers, jalapenos, and cheese and wrap in a whole-grain tortilla for a complete muscle repairing, well-balanced breakfast following that morning workout!

Plant-Based Proteins

7. Edamame

Offering both protein (9g) and carbohydrates (7g) per half-cup, edamame is great for muscle repair. It is also a significant plant-based source for individuals cutting down or eliminating animal products!

8. Almonds

A serving size of almonds (1-ounce or about 23 nuts) offers 6g of protein. Like tuna and other fatty fish, almonds provide Omega-3 Fatty Acids that deliver anti-inflammatory properties. Consume almonds by themselves, mix into a nutrient-rich trail mix, or create an on-the-go post-workout treat!

9. Peanut Butter and Banana

Though peanut butter is discouraged based on its high calorie and fat content, it is a convenient and plant-based protein source (supplying 8g of protein per serving or two tablespoons). Pairing peanut butter with banana is a muscle repair power duo, as potassium is an electrolyte lost through sweat and dehydration. Replenishing potassium can supplementarily prevent muscle cramps!

10. Chickpeas

Also know as garbanzo beans, chickpeas offer approximately 20g of protein per 1/2 cup! They also supply healthy fats and adequate amounts of fiber, making them completely well-rounded. Enjoy chickpeas roasted or blended with hummus.

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