All the time spent strength training has made you a pro at navigating the gym. But finding your way around the kitchen is another story. You've read the articles on how nutrition plays a vital role in developing muscles, but you're just a bit lost when preparing healthy meals or snacks. (Read 10 Nutrition Rules To Live By.)
Below are three muscle-boosting recipes perfect for before and after workouts and between training sessions to maximize recovery (see The Prime Time to Build Muscle). They're also quick and simple to make, great for the novice chef.
Pre-Workout Trail Mix
This mix is packed with recovery and immune system-enhancing antioxidants and anti-inflammatory compounds for reducing post-workout soreness—all of which enable your muscles to recover faster and grow between weight room sessions. The carbohydrate-rich dried fruit and chocolate supply energy for your upcoming workout. Protein-rich nuts or seeds have the muscle-building amino acid arginine and essential fatty acids to help you sustain a high intensity training session and minimize muscle breakdown. Raisins and dark chocolate also contain arginine, and both are heart-healthy foods. Healthy hearts are required not only for endurance sports, but also for daily activities such as climbing stairs, walking briskly and running short distances.
Prep time: less than five minutes
- Raisins (substitute dried cranberries, apricots or other dried fruit)
- Almonds (substitute peanuts, cashews, hazelnuts, soybeans or sunflower seeds)
- Dark chocolate chips
- In large bowl, mix cup of raisins, cup of almonds and cup of chips
- Store in big container for future consumption
- Put a handful in a plastic sandwich bag and eat it about 45-60 minutes before a workout to allow for adequate digestion
- Consume with water to transport the nutrients to your muscles
- Store in a cool area at all times for freshness
Calories: 1/4 cup of raisins, 130; 1/4 cup of almonds, 170; 1/4 cup of dark chocolate chips, 140; TOTAL, 440
Post-Workout Muscle-Building Shake
This is a perfect after-workout snack, to be drunk immediately or within 15-30 minutes after activity. It contains the ideal 4:1 carbohydrate to protein ratio necessary to replenish depleted glycogen used during high-intensity weight training. Chocolate milk has carbs and muscle-building protein as well as bone-building calcium and vitamin D; and the banana is an excellent high-carb fruit with muscle recovery-enhancing vitamins and minerals.
Prep time: less than three minutes
Directions: Blend all ingredients in a blender.
Calories: 2 cups regular chocolate milk, 440; medium-sized banana, 105; TOTAL, 545
Between Workouts Muscle-Boosting Meal
Mediterranean Egg Sandwich
Eggs are not only high in muscle-building protein, they also have antioxidant compounds that benefit eyesight, and they contain vitamins and minerals for muscle recovery. Red pepper, olive oil, olives and multigrain bread also contain immune system- and recovery-enhancing antioxidants needed between hard workout sessions.
Prep time: five to 10 minutes
- two medium-sized or large eggs
- 1/4 cup of milk
- 1-teaspoon olive oil
- two pitted olives
- 1/4 cup or one whole roasted jarred red pepper
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- two slices multi-grain bread
- Scramble eggs and milk in cereal bowl
- Combine olive oil, olives, peppers and salt
- Place bowl in microwave for five minutes and place bread slices in toaster (eggs and toast should be done around the same time)
- Slide the microwaved omelet between toasted bread slices.
Calories: 2 eggs, 130; 1/4 cup of milk, 125; 1 tsp. olive oil, 33; 1/4 cup whole red pepper, 10; 2 olives, 25; 2 slices multi-grain bread, 131; TOTAL, 454
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