Did I say chocolate? I meant protein. Post-workout protein is important. Your muscles need it to repair themselves and get stronger after all the hard work you put in.
They say you should get a good serving of protein within one to three hours of a workout. Since I work out in the morning, this snack typically falls between the gym and work. Eating in the car is such an epic bummer, but if I have a meeting to get to I usually have no choice because, for the life of me, I cannot get out of the gym in a reasonable amount of time. What I need are easy-to-eat foods that have a healthy dose of protein. Being deliciously chocolaty isn’t a requirement, but it’s a wonderful bonus.
The first breakfast bar recipe I tried is from a blog I read called Oh She Glows. Angela’s recipes are all vegan, and even though I don’t eat vegan by any stretch of the imagination (heck, my version of the recipe has cow’s milk and honey), I love her creations. She takes wonderful pictures, too. Usually I enjoy her recipes as written, but this one I just had to mess around with to make it chocolaty. Here’s her recipe: On The Glow Basic Oatmeal Squares.
My version omits a few things (cinnamon, banana) and has some substitutions (chocolate milk, Nutella, honey). They have a good amount of fiber and protein and are very satisfying after a workout. Since they are high in carbohydrates they help with muscle recovery, too. Carbs + protein = happy muscles. And, well, we all know what fiber does.
Gluten-free Chocolaty Breakfast Bars
- 2.5 cups Bob’s Red Mill Gluten-Free rolled oats, divided
- 3 tbsp chia seed
- 1/2 cup + 1 tbsp ground flax
- 1 tsp baking powder
- 1/4 tsp salt
- 1.5 cups chocolate milk
- 1/2 cup honey
- 2 tbsp Nutella
- 1 tbsp pure vanilla extract
1. Preheat oven to 350F and line a 9 inch bread pan with two pieces of parchment paper.
2. In a food processor, process 1 cup of the oats until a flour forms.
3. Add the remaining oats, chia seed, flax, baking powder, and salt to the food processor and pulse to mix. Add the milk, honey, Nutella, and vanilla and process until combined.
4. Pour mixture into prepared pan and smooth out. Bake for 35-40 minutes until lightly golden along edge. Place pan on cooling rack for 10 minutes, carefully remove, and cool on rack before slicing.
5. Slice into 9 1-inch thick bars. Wrap in plastic and store in the refridgerator or freeze.
Total Fat: 6.1 g
Cholesterol: 1.3 mg
Sodium: 146.8 mg
Total Carbs: 43.4 g
Dietary Fiber: 6.3 g
Protein: 7.8 g
The other recipe I like to use is from the book The New Rules of Lifting for Women by Lou Schuler. They don’t have as many carbohydrates, but it’s a big dose of protein. They have a wonderfully rich chocolate flavor, too. Of course, the taste and quality of protein is going to vary wildly depending on what type of protein powder and peanut butter you use. In my example I’m using GNC’s Pro Performance AMP 100% whey protein and Jif Natural peanut butter.
(In all honesty I thought the GNC protein was ridiculously over-priced, didn’t taste very good, and I didn’t see any real benefit to it over other brands. However, I’m not a scientist, I’m not trying to seriously bulk, nor am I concerned about being hyper-accurate regarding macro nutrition. You should assess your personal needs and be a savvy consumer when you spend money on supplements for your health.)
Peanut butter snack bars
- 4 scoops chocolate whey-protein powder
- 2/3 cup ground flaxseed
- 1/3 cup water (or more or less as needed)
- 4 Tbsp. smooth, natural peanut butter
1. Mix all ingredients in a large bowl.
2. Divide into 5 balls and shape into bars. I used a scale to make sure they were all approximately the same size.
3. Seal in plastic wrap and store in the refrigerator or freezer.
Total Fat: 12.7 g
Cholesterol: 44.0 mg
Sodium: 204.0 mg
Total Carbs: 13.0 g
Dietary Fiber: 7.4 g
Protein: 22.0 g
Unattractive, but so yummy.
Macro nutrition – that is, looking at the calories you consume from the perspective of fat, carbohydrates, and protein that make up the calories – was not something I had ever really thought about until a dietitian discussed it with me. For some people weight loss really can be as easy as calories in – calories out. But I’ve found it’s easiest for me to keep a balanced diet and happy body when I try to balance the macro nutrients in my calories. I’m not obsessive about it, but I find I operate best on the 40:30:30 ratio – 40% of my calories from carbs, 30% from fat, 30% from protein (this was popularized as The Zone diet). Most people eat closer to 60:20:20, but I’ve found fewer carbs and more protein works for me.
And more fat because cheese is delicious. It’s all about what makes you happy.