Achieving your ideal body composition (desired lean body mass and body fat amount) can feel like a circular and never-ending loop. You work out hard and your metabolism speeds up but you also find yourself more hungry, more often, and with a higher scale weight. I call this the dieter’s paradox. There are a couple of things at play, it could be that since muscle weighs more than fat your body composition is indeed changing and you are progressing toward your goal but the scale does not reflect it. If this is your case, then I suggest giving the scale a break and focusing on taking bi-weekly measurements with a tape measure. Just as easy. In other instances, and this is what I’ll focus on for this piece, you are not eating enough of the right food after your workout to satisfy the immediate hike in metabolism and replenish the fat you burn with healthy protein, carbohydrates and fat from whole food sources. There are plenty of theories on what to eat after a workout, a common one is a protein shake. However, I am focusing on actual foods because this list is intended to be used long-term to achieve lasting weight loss results. The more lifestyle changes you adopt during the beginning stages of your fitness regimen the more sustainable your results will be.
Filling, Healthy Post-Workout Foods
Note: These foods are to be added to your balanced meals and are not intended as meal replacement.
Quinoa is a South American grain that made its way to the United States in the 1980s. Since then quinoa has developed a reputation as a power grain and its popularity increased exponentially. Quinoa is a great addition to any diet because it is a good protein source and also contains magnesium and manganese, vitamins B2, vitamin E, and dietary fiber. It is also a good source of the minerals iron, phosphorous, copper and zinc. Since preparing quinoa is similar to preparing rice, all Latinos should give this powerful grain a try. Once you get comfortable cooking quinoa you can experiment with adding shredded vegetables and dried fruits for flavor and to increase its health value.
Sweet Potatoes are a great source of carotenes, vitamins C and B6. They are also a good source of manganese, copper, biotin (great for hair growth), pantothenic acid, vitamin B2 and dietary fiber. In addition, sweet potatoes help boost your body’s antioxidant levels and stabilize blood sugar levels by improving your body’s response to insulin. To prepare simply wash and cut sweet potatoes, drizzle with olive oil or coconut oil and bake at 350 degrees for 45 minutes. You can also prepare mashed sweet potatoes as you would regular potatoes.
Avocados do not need any preparation and are an excellent source of “good fat.” Avocados are a healthy, high-calorie food with approximately 20% fat content (1 gram of fat is equal to 9 calories). Thus adding avocados to your post-workout meal is an excellent and easy way to fulfill any hunger gaps left behind by the rest of your meal. Specifically, avocados are an excellent source of monounsaturated fatty acids, potassium, vitamins E and B, and fiber.
A final word on eating after your workout: Eat. Do not skip meals after you exercise. Your body is a perfectly-crafted machine and if you do not eat after your workout, when your body’s metabolism is at its peak your metabolism will slow down and your cravings for high-calorie foods will increase. This is the body’s way to ensure survival by storing calories for long term use. Eating the right foods, such as these, will help you lose fat and gain lean body mass even if the scale does not immediately reflect it.