Savvy nutrition is as crucial to your gym progress as your actual workouts. With strategic meals, you can actually prevent muscles from breaking down, and help ensure they get stronger, faster. Enter the grill-only recipes below. These meals are especially designed to aid muscle recovery, because each one has a star ingredient — protein — that’s proven to speed healing.
Around two grams of protein per kilogram of bodyweight, every day, is the right amount to encourage protein synthesis, which is the process of transforming food protein into muscle tissue, according to a study in The British Journal of Nutrition. (Note: Divide your bodyweight by 2.2 to convert pounds to kilograms.)
Not only are these meals packed with the muscle-boosting macronutrient, they have a host of other healing nutrients. All will satisfy time-crunched cooks, and you’ll find options for meat-eaters, vegans, and all the folks in between.
Cuban-Style Black Beans in Grilled Avocado
Protein per serving: 14 grams — vegan- and vegetarian-friendly
“Your post-workout meal should emphasize carbohydrates over protein, so black beans are a good choice to optimize recovery,” says Jessica Pellicciotta, RD, a former sports nutritionist at Villanova University. “They contain the perfect ratio of carbs to protein.”
- 1/2 can organic black beans
- 1 onion
- 1/2 tbs ground cumin
- 1 pinch sea salt
- 1/2 tbs granulated garlic
- 1 pinch ground pepper
- 3 tbs fresh chopped cilantro
- 3 bay leaves
- 3 whole avocados
- 1/2 fresh lemon
- 2 tbs olive oil
Step 1: Cut avocado in half and remove seed with spoon. Keep the skin on. Drizzle with fresh lemon juice and brush lightly with olive oil. Gently place cut side down on hot grill for two to three minutes.
Step 2: Sauté chopped onions in olive oil until translucent.
Step 3: In a separate bowl add beans, garlic, cumin, salt, pepper, cilantro, and bay leaves. Stir vigorously and add to onions. Cook, stirring occasionally, until beans are soft and liquid is thickened. Scoop a generous portion into the avocado and top with fresh cilantro.
Spinach Omelet with Olives and Walnuts
Protein per serving: 24 grams — vegetarian-friendly
Compared to other protein-rich foods, “the protein from eggs are absorbed the quickest,” says Pellicciotta, “they also provide all nine essential amino acids your body needs.”
- 1 tbsp coconut oil
- 1 tbsp granulated garlic
- 8 organic brown eggs
- 1/4 cup diced parsley
- 2 cups fresh spinach
- 1 cup organic salsa
- 1/4 cup fresh walnuts
- 8 Kalamata olives
Step 1: Heat coconut oil in 10-inch skillet over medium heat. Beat eggs, garlic, spinach, salsa, and parsley in medium bowl until blended.
Step 2: Pour the egg mixture into the skillet. Mixture should set immediately at edges.
Step 3: When bottom surface of eggs has thickened, flip omelet with spatula. Let sit for 1 minute and transfer to plate.
Step 4: In a medium skillet over medium heat, toast walnuts, shaking pan often, about five minutes.
Step 5: Serve the omelet topped with the toasted walnuts and olives.
Chimichurri Turkey Burger With Red Quinoa
Protein per serving: 16 grams
“Ground turkey is dense in protein, so, for a small amount, you get the nutrients and amino acids necessary to repair your muscles,” says Pellicciotta.
- 1 lb ground turkey
- 4 cloves fresh garlic
- 1/2 cup packed fresh cilantro
- 1/2 cup diced parsley
- 1/4 cup olive oil
- 2 tbsp fresh lemon juice
- 1 tsp sea salt
- 1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper
- 1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
- 1 cup uncooked red quinoa
- 2 cups water
Step 1: Rinse quinoa in cool water for two minutes. Swish and drain.
Step 2: Heat 1 tbs olive oil in a saucepan over medium-high heat, and add the drained quinoa. Stir in 2 cups of water and a pinch of sea salt. Bring to a rolling boil. Turn heat down to low. Cover and cook for 15 minutes.
Step 3: In a blender, pulverize the garlic, cilantro, parsley, olive oil, lemon juice, salt, red pepper, and vinegar to create chimichurri sauce.
Step 4: In a large bowl, add ground turkey and chimichurri and mix into 1/2-cup burgers.
Step 5: Set grill to medium-high heat and cook burgers for 10 minutes per side. Serve the burger with quinoa for a side.