4 Simple Pre- and Post-Workout Superfood Recipes

Fitness Tips

4 Simple Pre- and Post-Workout Superfood Recipes

Before you work out, your body needs fuel (think -- carbohydrates, protein, good fats and other nutrients) in adequate amounts to sustain energy levels as it undergoes extreme physical stress, as well as to replenish lost minerals to keep your muscles from breaking down. After a good workout, your body craves nutrients that hasten muscle recovery, repair worn tissues and replenish its glycogen storage.

Here are four nutrient-packed superfood recipes for your pre- and post-workout enjoyment that will keep your body happy.

Superfoods for Your Pre-Workout Meal

Do you work out on an empty stomach?

You may think that you're burning more calories and reaching your fitness goals faster this way, but going to the gym without having had anything to eat is like driving your car the last few miles on gas fumes; you'll crash and burn before reaching your destination. Maximize your workout with these power-packed superfoods and eat them about 30 minutes before.

Fruity Oatmeal in Coconut Milk

Oatmeal in Coconut MilkPhoto courtesy of Flickr user Daniella Segura.


Why oatmeal? This high-fiber whole grain cereal serves as your main source of energy. The complex carbohydrates take a while to digest, so you won't run out of juice halfway through your workout. It also helps lower your LDL, which is the "bad cholesterol." Instead of the sugar- and additive-loaded instant packets, go for either steel-cut or whole grain rolled oats, because both still retain their germ and bran layers.

Why coconut milk? Yes, it is high in saturated fats, but they are medium-chain fatty acids, the type that gets metabolized rapidly and is therefore less likely to be stored as fats. Lauric acid, in particular, has been shown to have antibacterial and antiviral properties. This lactose-free milk is also rich in vitamin C, folate, iron and magnesium, which has been shown to improve sports performance and cardiac function.

Recipe: Cook steel-cut oats, which are tougher than rolled oats, in coconut milk for two minutes the night before. Leave it on the stove until the next day, when you can reheat it and add fruits.

No-cook recipe: In a mason jar, soak rolled oats and dried fruits, such as raisins and cranberries, in coconut milk. Flavor with brown sugar or honey. Leave it in the refrigerator overnight, and you've got a super pre-workout meal to-go come morning.

Blueberry-Banana Greek Yogurt Smoothie

Blueberry Banana SmoothiePhoto courtesy of Flickr user LearningLark.


Why blueberry? Fitness and nutrition experts have this fruit at the top of their list because it contains one of the highest concentration of antioxidants and phytonutrients per pound. They protect against inflammation and cellular damage from free radicals, of which the body produces more during strenuous exercise. Blueberries are also rich in vitamins C, B complex and iron, while having a low glycemic index compared to other fruits.

Why banana? It's a great source of fiber and potassium, which regulates the heart, maintains normal nerve functions and minimizes muscle cramping and aches.

Why Greek yogurt? It has 15 to 20 grams protein, almost double that found in a regular yogurt, and half the carbs. Here's another big plus: it has more probiotics, the "good gut bacteria," essential to a healthy immune system.

Recipe: Add a small handful of blueberries and a medium banana to half a cup of low-fat Greek yogurt and about a cup of water, just enough to reach the desired consistency. Upgrade your smoothie with a tablespoon of milled or ground flaxseeds, another superfood noted for having high levels of omega-3, cholesterol-lowering fatty acids found in fish.

Superfoods for Your Post-Workout Meal

A filling post-workout meal, containing adequate proteins and healthy fats, is best eaten 30 to 60 minutes after, during the "window of opportunity" when the muscles are more receptive.

Kale and Whole Wheat Pasta

Kale and Whole Wheat PastaPhoto courtesy of Flickr user sweetonveg.


Why kale? The King of Greens, kale packs more nutrients than other leafy vegetables. This under-appreciated superfood contains a powerful concentration of cancer-fighting antioxidants, scoring 270 units higher than the top-ranking spinach on the Oxygen Radical Absorbance Capacity chart, according to the American Dietetic Association. It also eclipses spinach with three times more fiber and four times more vitamin C content. It's low-calorie and high in vitamin A, calcium and iron.

Recipe: Following Bobby Flay's easy instructions for quick sautéed kale, soften sliced garlic in heated olive oil, before adding kale and a half cup of vegetable stock (option: chicken stock or water, seasoned with salt and pepper). Toss in high heat and keep it covered for five minutes before serving over cooked whole wheat pasta. For extra protein, add slices of turkey breast.

Quinoa and Salmon

Quinoa and SalmonPhoto courtesy of Flickr user mbiddulph.


Why quinoa? One of the few plant-based foods that's considered a "complete protein," quinoa contains all the essential amino acids you need. This nutty-tasting grain also offers more fiber, magnesium and iron than brown rice.

Why salmon? This lean protein choice is maxed with omega-3 and bioactive peptides, which combats hypertension, oxidative stress and inflammation, all while boosting joint health.

Recipe: Quinoa is cooked like rice. Rinse it first through a fine sieve until the water runs clear to get rid of the soapy taste. Boil 1 cup of quinoa in 2 cups of liquid -- stock or salted water -- for 15 to 20 minutes. Fluff and serve with baked or steamed salmon.