After-Work Out Solutions to Boost Energy

Have you ever gone to a gym that provides food for its patrons? If you find something like trail mix or bananas, eat up, but if you see a steaming pizza only half eaten, be afraid, be very afraid. Choosing the right food and beverages post workout is essential to your health and functionality. To boost your energy level and replenish depleted proteins after an intense session try out some of these healthy choices.

Water must be incorporated

Energy level directly correlates with hydration status, so if your body is thirsting for a glass of water it will have a much harder time transporting nutrients in the blood. Water is also essential for clearing out waste build-up that results in fatigue. Simply put, if you do not consume a sufficient amount of water - two to three liters per day depending on physique - your body will be unable to metabolize food into fuel and cease to operate properly.

Quick and easy foods

For optimal results, you'll want to eat within 30 to 60 minutes following an exercise, when muscles will be most receptive. During this period, a spike in enzyme activity causes the body to more efficiently store glucose for energy and build protein in exhausted muscles. Although it is not always easy eating 30 minutes after a workout, doing so will maximize results.

Granola is a great example of a quick and easy snack because it is portable, effortless, and can be kept in the office or your gym bag. Granola rich in oats, honey and flax supply protein, carbohydrates and some healthy fat to our bodies, while nuts and dried fruit provide iron for healthy red blood cells. Fats in nuts, oils and seeds are known to provide extended energy to the body. Low-fat yogurt, Greek yogurt or pumpkin seeds are other easy items to include in the mix.

Whole grain cereals high in fiber slow down the release of glucose and delivers more consistent energy levels. Whole grain cereals can be a vital source of important vitamins and minerals and should be eaten with skim milk.

Shake it to the right

Sports recovery drinks can give you the protein and carbohydrates needed to boost your energy level and can also be a delicious alternative to supplemental protein shakes. You can choose a variety of items to blend in your smoothies such as milk, yogurt, peanut butter, and fruit. Bananas are especially great because they're filled with potassium and magnesium, which are strong electrolytes for healthy muscle performance.

Lean meats and fish for meals

Lean beef and chicken are optimal sources of protein, and stir-frying is a cooking method that takes little effort to execute. Healthy carbs from rice and fiber from fresh vegetables make stir-fry an excellent choice following a strength workout, so consume 20 to 30 grams post-exercise, and you'll be set. If you are going to eat cold cuts on a sandwich be mindful that the meat is low in sodium, and remember that limited salt is a good thing to replace what was lost while exercising. Using 100 percent whole wheat bread will ensure you get a substantial fiber intake, and including tomatoes will add vitamin C to the meal.

For seafood eaters, it is no secret that fish is an excellent source of protein and the ultimate provider of heart-healthy omega-3 fats, so it is important to include fish on the menu after working out. Salmon and cod are excellent examples of protein-rich choices and can be pan-seared or baked according to preference. When preparing a meal, add steamed vegetables and brown rice to incorporate healthy carbs and energy-producing B vitamins.

Eggs and plant-based foods

Eggs are one of the highest-quality protein sources you can find, because they are full of amino acid building blocks that assist muscle health. Eggs are a very versatile food, with nearly endless options in ways to prepare them. Omelets will make a satisfying and healthy meal, particularly if vegetables or cheese accompany them. Egg sandwiches with whole grain bread make a perfect breakfast after a workout, and you'll find protein in both the white of the egg and the yolk.

Legumes such as beans, lentils and peas are rich in protein and carbohydrates and can be easily introduced into a meal alongside an assortment of healthy foods. Lentils do wonders for the body after physical activity because they contain B vitamins which boost your metabolism, magnesium for bone strength, and iron for healthy red blood cells. Tofu is another great option to recuperate lost proteins and can be made a number of ways, one being as a tofu burger.

Soybeans contain lots of energizing nutrients, namely B-vitamins, phosphorus and copper. These nutrients are crucial to have in your regimen because they break down carbohydrates into glucose for energy, circulate oxygen throughout the body, and convert eaten food into fuel. Edamame is not only a fun word to say, but also a delightful high-protein snack that is conducive to a healthy diet and easy to haul on-the-go. Add salt for a bit of flavor and electrolytes to recharge your supply. All of these things also make great additions to salads.

Whole grains high in protein

Quinoa is an especially great food because it is higher in protein than a majority of whole grains. It is rich enough in amino acids that it is considered a complete protein source, as it is high in lysine, methionine and cysteine, making quinoa ideal for a post-workout meal that builds muscle. This mild grain is also high in magnesium, folate, phosphorus, and manganese, which defines a nutrient-packed carbohydrate source for long-lasting energy levels. The taste can be bland if not mixed with something like lima beans, black beans or tofu. Quinoa also can be cooked in broth for added flavor.

Christina DeParis is a graduate student studying medicine at University of Florida College of Medicine. To help finance her studies she writes freelance on the side about a variety of health topics. Knowledgeable about what the human body needs to function correctly, she highly recommends that males in particular make sure they have sufficient quantities of testosterone, and when diet and exercise aren't enough, to visit to see if testosterone replacement may be right for you.