PHOTOGRAPH BY JOHN DEVOLLE/GETTY IMAGES
Ready to ramp up your results? The following combos put you on the fast track to weight loss. Aim to eat something within an hour of finishing your workout, when your muscles are primed to absorb nutrients most efficiently.
During that fitness class your body burns carbs for fuel. The wrap’s fiber-rich grains and veggies replenish these stores while keeping your blood sugar levels steady, says Jessica Crandall, RDN, a Denver-based fitness instructor, dietitian, and spokesperson for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. The result: You’ll feel energized instead of drained, so you’ll be less likely to overeat later on.
Pairing those carbs with protein-rich turkey may help you recover more quickly, according to a study published in Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise. Plus, “protein helps your body repair and build muscle, which boosts your metabolism,” says Bjork.
Gotta dash after your run? Toss this portable treat in your bag. Not only do thenuts serve up protein and healthy fats, but they can also take the edge off your hunger. In one study, University of California, Davis researchers found that snacking on almonds curbs appetite, so you won’t undo all of your hard work by overindulging later on.
Meanwhile, oranges deliver carbs, immune-boosting vitamin C, and hydration in one convenient package. “Because your body absorbs vitamins and minerals readily after exercise, it’s the perfect time to load up on nutrient-rich foods,” says Crandall.
Quick to whip up and easy to digest, smoothies are an ideal post-workout treat. Shake things up by adding few slices of avocado. Not only does it add satisfying creaminess, but it also can help you stay fuller, longer. According to a study inNutrition Journal, people whose lunches included avocado felt 23% more satisfied—and felt less hungry afterward—than those whose lunches didn’t include the fruit. Bonus: The healthy fats in avocados support your joint function, which can help you pound the pavement or land those box jumps ache-free.
To sweeten the deal, mix in a handful of antioxidant-rich frozen berries and a scoop of your favorite protein powder (or try this organic whey protein), says Bjork. Or, if you prefer, swap in Greek yogurt, which contains 11 grams of protein per half cup.
“Salmon contains omega-3s,” says Bjork. “They lessen some of the post-workout muscle inflammation that causes soreness.” What’s more, research suggests that this healthy fat may help boost fat burn.
For a delicious snack, turn chopped or canned salmon into a quick salad. Add celery and grapes for carbs and fiber, and a few glugs of olive oil for a dose of healthy fats. Or turn the salad into lunch by serving it on top of spinach with a whole grain roll.
If you worked up a sweat first thing in the morning, reward yourself with this breakfast of champions. The black beans add fiber-rich carbs, while the bell peppers serve up vitamin C.
But the star of the show is the protein-packed egg, which can keep you from overeating for the rest of the day. In fact, research in the Journal of the American College of Nutrition found that people who ate eggs for breakfast consumed 22% fewer calories at lunch—and fewer for the entire day—than those who had a bagel. Are your mornings always a scramble? Keep hard-boiled eggs on hand, and have one with a piece of whole wheat toast and fruit for an on-the-go meal.