Refuel with these speedy muscle building meal ideas, perfect for a post-workout and pre-work breakfast.
Morning exercise is great for getting your head in the game early doors, keeping you energised throughout the day and helping you squeeze in movement during our busy lives. But training early often means having to rush about to get to your desk/appointment/rest of the day on time, meaning that if you’re not prepared, you’ll be going hungry.
“Having a serving of protein around your training is important for muscle protein synthesis, helping your muscles recover and rebuild. It’s responsible for cell building in your body, including your muscles, skin, hair and nails, so you need to give your body enough to recover from your training and to help support you through the rest of your day,” she explains.
A serving of protein within a couple of hours either side of your training will give you optimum results. However, when we train first thing in the morning, we’re unlikely to have had a large enough meal to fulfil those needs before we hit the gym, meaning that getting a serving of protein after our training becomes even more important.
And it’s not just the protein we need to care about either. “We need carbohydrates after our exercise to replenish our glycogen stores and also help your muscles start recovering,” Pennie adds.
The good news is that a lot more of us are working from home right now, which means that we do have the facilities to throw together some quick recipes. If you’re not at home, it’s important to make some post-workout breakfasts ahead of time and live your Tupperware life to the fullest.
Unlike pre-workout nutrition, which needs tailoring for sport specific energy requirements, post-workout nutrition is pretty much the same formula regardless of what you trained. “Getting in protein and carbs is always a good idea,” Pennie says. The difference might be in how big your serving is, but there are some easy guidelines to work out what your body needs to recover from training.
“A serving of protein should be around 20g-30g, but it depends on what type of protein we are having,” explains Pennie. “It is the amino acid lucein that will impact muscle recovery the most, and that is find in higher dosages in animal protein sources than in a vegan sources.” So, 20g of protein from milk is more effective than 20g of protein from beans, meaning that you should aim for a higher portion of protein if you are eating a dairy-free diet.
When it comes to carbs, Pennie says it varies depending on the size of the person and how hard their training was at to how much they need to replenish post-workout. A serving of around 50g of carbs is a good target though. “However, you don’t need to get caught up in grams. As long as you are eating a decent portion of protein and having enough carbs and fats to feel energised and fuel your sessions, you’re doing fine,” says Pennie.
These meals will help you tick those high-protein, carbohydrate rich targets while being delicious and quick enough for a post-workout breakfast.
If you gravitate towards sweet breakfasts, this is a winner. Simply cover a portion of oats (an easy carbohydrate win) with cinnamon, chia seeds and almond milk and throw them in the microwave for two minutes before stirring in some vegan protein powder to help with recovery. Top with frozen fruit, nut butter, yoghurt or whatever you have time to throw together before work begins.
Eggs and toast
Pennie opts for poached eggs on toast after training because “they’re delicious and easily gets in my protein, carbs and fats to keep me full.” If you’re heading straight out from the gym, try this frittata recipe that you can pre-prepare and take wherever you’re heading.
Let’s also remember that we can eat the whole egg, not just the white, for a healthy breakfast. In fact, eating the yolk helps increases muscle-building by 40% compared with only eating the whites.
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Yoghurt and granola
Greek yoghurt is high in protein and a perfect recipe for busy mornings – it literally involves spooning from the tub to a bowl (or skip the bowl and go straight for the tub if that’s the kind of day you’re having). Opting for a granola isn’t just delicious but will help you replenish with carbohydrates. Alternatively, opt for a banana as your carbohydrate source.
If you’re vegan, swap the yoghurt for a soy alternative. The Alpro Greek Style yoghurt is high in protein and really delicious, too.
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Chloe Gray is the senior writer for stylist.co.uk's fitness brand Strong Women. When she's not writing or lifting weights, she's most likely found practicing handstands, sipping a gin and tonic or eating peanut butter straight out of the jar (not all at the same time).