High intensity interval training (HIIT) workouts demand all the effort you have to give, and the payoff is great. A quick yet seemingly never-ending 20-minute session feels like you just made it through a two-hour workout. Your muscles are tired, you are out of breath, and the body’s need for the right fuel is paramount. While most people reach for protein shakes, energy drinks, or unhealthy carbs post-HIIT session, you should direct your focus towards healthier foods.
According to nutritionists, protein powders and shakes are not necessary for post-workout meals. Sure, protein shakes can help you maintain lean muscle mass, but these shakes don’t replenish the body as well as other foods do. If you engage in HIIT workouts, you know that the rewards are great, but only when they are paired with the right nutrition. Post workout fuel has more to do with your gains that you realize. Consume the following foods when you finish a HIIT workout to make it as effective as possible.
Packed with antioxidants, brain boosting benefits, fiber, and protein, blueberries are excellent to consume after you complete any form of exercise. Nutritionists say that eating blueberries after a workout helps to accelerate muscle recovery. Additionally, blueberries contain antioxidants that work to fight oxidative stress. Incorporate blueberries into coconut yogurt, oats, smoothies, or chia pudding, or eat them out of hand.
Nut And Beans
The body exerts a lot of energy when you exercise, especially during a HIIT workout. In order to produce this energy, the body uses B vitamin stores, which you need to replenish post-workout. You can easily load up on B vitamins by consuming chickpeas (containing B6) and almonds (containing B2). If you are a vegan or vegetarian, focus on walnuts, black beans, cashews, kidney beans, and macadamia nuts for healthy fats, protein, and energy.
Do you ever regret adding avocado to your meal? Even though it costs extra, it’s worth every cent. One avocado satisfies 14% of your recommended daily intake of potassium, which is an essential mineral that balances sodium levels and electrical activity of muscles. During a HIIT workout, your muscles and joints get stressed/inflamed, and the anti-inflammatory nutrients in avocado work to counteract that inflammation. You can add avocado to a Buddha bowl with quinoa, blend it in a smoothie, eat it with a little sea salt and pepper, or mix it with cacao powder and honey for a healthy dessert.
Leafy Green Vegetables
Leafy greens are excellent, no matter when you decide to eat them. The vitamin, mineral, and fiber content help to minimize free radical damage after a HIIT session. Similar to blueberries, leafy greens are excellent in smoothies, but make sure to include at least 2 cups if you go that route. The best leafy greens to consume include:
This isn’t necessary for post-workout fuel, but it can be beneficial if you are trying to increase muscle mass. Make sure that you don’t skimp on quality when it comes to protein powder, though. So many protein powders contain added sugars and other chemicals that can harm the body. Invest in a high-quality, plant-based protein powder that is easy for the body to absorb and digest. These proteins can help muscle recovery after a HIIT workout.
Don’t Forget About Hydration!
You can eat the foods mentioned in this article after your HIIT workout, but you cannot forget about water. You lose fluids via sweat, and you need to replenish those fluids by hydrating post-workout. Dehydration can dampen your workout efforts, so make sure to drink at least 16 ounces of water after you exercise.