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High Protein Foods to Perform like a Champion
As anyone who works out regularly or is training for a race can tell you, post-workout muscle soreness is a big deal. From sore legs that won’t fully straighten to burning arms that won’t lift over your head, the struggle is real. Taking off a sports bra with sore arms can be pure torture!
The very worst part about post-workout pain is that it makes it a lot harder to stay motivated and show up to your next workout. How excited can you really be to head out for a long run when you are limping around after yesterday’s intense weight workout? If you want to say farewell to the unbearable soreness, say hello to more protein!
Protein: to Rebuild and to Repair
If we skimp on protein, chances are our sore muscles are going to have a really hard time recovering quickly from tough workouts. This happens because your muscles don’t have any new amino acids, the building blocks of muscle, to rebuild with. While animal-based protein sources like chicken, eggs, and dairy are always an option, there are actually many different plant-based sources of protein that can aid in post-workout recovery too.
The Essentials for Endurance and Recovery
There are three crucial amino acids, also called Branch Chain Amino Acids (BCAA’s), that aid in muscle recovery: leucine, isoleucine, and valine. These BCAA’s are found in meat and dairy protein sources, but also in many plant-based sources, like legumes, nuts, and seeds.
These BCAA’s are important when it comes to post-workout muscle recovery, but they also kick-start muscle growth and work to delay fatigue signals in the brain. In fact, many high performance athletes take BCAA supplements both before and after working out in order to delay fatigue and stay mentally sharp even though they are physically drained.
Supplements aren’t necessarily a must for great performance; there are many whole food sources of BCAA’s that would make delicious, easy pre- and post-workout snacks. Here are some of our favorite plant-based sources of BCAA’s.
Legumes, such as soybeans, black beans, lima beans, and lentils, are all great sources of protein and BCAA’s. Here are some great ways to eat legumes before or after your workout:
- Edamame offers a potent amount of energy because of all of its protein and iron. Simply steaming edamame will make for a great snack.
- Lentils contain the third-highest levels of protein out of all legumes and nuts. Give these roasted lentils a shot!
- Lima beans provide your body with steady and slow-burning energy. Want a hearty snack? Try some toast withlima bean hummus.
- Juice Plus+ Complete offers whole-food nutrition and a scoop of this mix will provide protein to any smoothie!
Nuts and Seeds
Nuts and seeds are another good source of protein. Almonds, cashews, Brazil nuts, and pumpkin seeds carry those 3 specific BCAA’s, which make them good for workout recovery. Here are a few ideas for how to get a little more creative than grabbing a handful of almonds at the end of your workout:
- Almond butter with a banana
- Almond butter or cashew butter with toast
- Superfood trail mix
- Homemade seedy granola bars
The awesome thing about these snacks is that most of them can be prepped at the beginning of your week to have on hand to eat before and after your workout. You can also mix up new flavor combinations to keep things both interesting and delicious.
What are your favorite protein snacks for before or after your workouts? Share with us in the comments below!
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