The best post-workout meals and snacks for fighting inflammation

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We all know the importance of eating well in maintaining a healthy lifestyle. Exercise plays a crucial role as well, but so often we find ourselves attempting to justify a post-workout splurge meal simply because we already burned off some calories — it can’t hurt to replace them, can it?

Au contraire.

After your workout, it’s equally important to refuel and recharge your body in a healthy manner. For those with joint pain, it’s a necessity. Arthritis symptoms or other joint sensitivities make it critical to do everything in your power to keep inflammation under wraps. 

Let’s look at the best practices for post-workout recovery meals (with a couple recipe ideas tossed in for good measure).


The basics of post-workout meals

Outside magazine notes the proper ratio of healthy carbs to protein in a post-exercise meal as “0.4 grams of protein combined with 0.8 grams of carbohydrates for every 2.2 pounds you weigh, per hour you’ve exercised.”

To save you from having to do the math, that breaks down to 27 grams of protein and 54 grams of carbohydrates for a 150-pound person, assuming that person exercised for one hour. For reference, a typical slice of whole wheat bread contains 12 grams of carbohydrates. A whole-wheat tortilla contains about 40 grams of healthy complex carbs. Conveniently, a cup of black beans contains 15 grams of protein. 

Here’s an example./ Brown rice contains 5 grams of protein and 42 grams of carbs per cup. A full cup of rice and a tortilla is a bit heavy on carbs, but a ¼ cup fits nicely in a burrito. So, a quick and simple post-workout meal could consist of a black bean, brown rice, and vegetable burrito wrap with a bit of salsa. 

Cheese or lean meat can be added to kick the protein up a bit, just be careful about adding too much dairy or your joints may pay the price.

There are infinite combinations you could play with here. Try swapping the tortilla for whole wheat bread and lean deli turkey breast or a bean burger patty!


Quick post-workout snacks

What you snack on post-workout is berry important. That may be a corny sentence, but it’s not a typo. The anthocyanins found in strawberries, blueberries, cherries, and other dark berries can help you manage inflammation triggered by stress on the joints and muscles during the workout.

To those of you with a sweet tooth, we know where your mind is at — and the answer is yes, you can indulge in a yogurt and fruit smoothie. You’ve earned it. Just don’t go overboard on fats, dairy, or other inflammation-triggering foods or else you’ll counteract the benefit of the berries and the yogurt. Try adding protein powder for a more well-rounded snack.

Additional positive snacks include nuts, avocado whole-wheat toast, and hard-boiled eggs.


If you must go big, be sure to include a salad

We’ve all been there — after a long workout or a good day of biking, skiing, running, or another cardio-heavy exercise, you’re hungry. A quick snack just isn’t going to cut it. You need a full meal, and pronto.

If you’ve exercised for longer than one hour, and particularly if it’s been a full day of activity, there’s no need to stress over specifics. A meal that balances healthy carbs with the proper ratio of protein as listed above is all good. Just one thing — try to add a salad.

Even if the salad isn’t the main course, a simple side salad with a diverse offering of colorful, fresh veggies and an olive oil-based dressing will amplify your meal’s ability to counteract inflammation. 

Start with a base of dark, leafy greens, and be sure to add sliced carrots. Spinach, kale, or mixed greens will do, and for more color, slice a tomato and a bell pepper. Seeds can add the crunch, and broccoli florets make your salad an A+ for those joints.


Quick fixes for workouts on the go

If you have time to whip up a meal before heading out to the gym, you’ll save yourself the temptation of making a bad impulse decision after the workout (we know how good that drive-thru smells!)

A simple grilled chicken breast with roasted veggies or a side salad is a great to-go option that won’t spoil if it cools off a bit while you’re busy. A to-go container with 4 oz of hummus along with pita crisps and veggies can tide you over until the next mealtime. Oatmeal is a quick favorite, and when you just can’t resist the urge to splurge, opt for cottage cheese with fruit or whole wheat carbs. 

Each of these is convenient for taking to the office or for eating on the go.


Remember, the focus is on omega-3s

Omega-3 fatty acids are the key to reducing joint pain and inflammation. If you suffer from arthritis, a diet high in omega-3s can work alongside additional treatment routines to be sure that what you put into your body isn’t making the problem worse.

That’s why it’s recommended to use olive oil dressings rather than rich, creamy dressings such as Ranch or Blue Cheese. While the dairy in the latter two can worsen the effects, dressings like Balsamic Vinaigrette can fight inflammation. If you don’t have a pre-made dressing on hand, a splash of olive oil and lemon juice is tangy and delicious, especially if you pop a few sliced berries on top!

Our blog is rich in omega-3 heavy recipes to keep you fighting inflammation and doing the physical activities you love.

And an omega-3 supplement such as GLX3 ensures you are getting the recommended daily amount of omega-3s without any harmful additives. Our easy-to-take supplement is made with three simple, all-natural ingredients — New Zealand Green Lipped Mussel Oil, New Zealand Olive Oil, and Vitamin E Oil. No filler, all power. That’s the HakeLife Way.

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