Food is an important part of fitness. No matter how much workout you do, if you don’t have a balanced diet, it isn’t going to work for your body. Food keeps the body energised and also impacts the way your body functions. According to experts, when it comes to working out, your diet will always play a crucial part. It is as important as stretching before working out to avoid injuries. 

What you eat before or after your workout also determines how effective your routine will be. And protein is one of the major nutrients your body needs, especially post workout. Experts reveal that every exercise triggers a breakdown of muscle protein, the rate at which this happens depends on the exercise and the level of training. And it doesn’t matter what level of workout you do, even well-trained athletes experience muscle-protein breakdown. Therefore, consuming an adequate amount of protein after a workout is essential for our bodily functions for the rest of the day.

Proteins are basically amino acids that are essential for our bodies to function properly. It’s not just for muscle, protein is found in every part of our body - from bones and skin to even hair. Protein helps build and repair tissue after exertion, exercise, or injury. It also gives you the building blocks required to build new muscle tissue. While there is a notion that some of the best sources of protein are found in animal meats, vegetarian sources of protein are often ignored even though a plant-based diet can provide ample protein, even for those of us with extremely active lifestyles. Have you ever wondered what could be the protein-rich vegetarian foods you can consume post workout? Here are a few options. 

1. Lentils 

Lentils are a great source of vegetarian and even vegan protein. When combined with rice, wheat, or corn, it makes for a wholesome dose of protein with an abundant dose of all essential amino acids. So, your desi dal-chawal, is an excellent way to load up on proteins for vegetarians. For a post-workout meal, you can combine boiled lentil with some fruits such as apples and make a yummy salad for a filling dish.  

2. Soy 

Soy is one of those few plant-based proteins that is regarded as complete or high-quality sources. It can be consumed by itself or processed into items like soy chunks, nuggets, tempeh, soy milk, and tofu. Some of the soy-based dishes you can make for your post-workout meal are soya falafel, soybean salad, soy milkshake and more. With its blood-pressure and cholesterol lowering properties, it cannot get better than this. 

3. Milk and Dairy 

If you aren’t a vegan, milk is a perfect nutrient-dense food option that is rich in protein. Other dairy products like paneer and cheese can be considered high-quality protein sources as well. However, certain dairy products, such as cheese are heavy in fat, and while they also provide many other nutritional advantages, a post-workout meal might not require fat. You can always consult your dietitian regarding the same. Yoghurt is another dairy that is regarded as healthy, and it can be a good option to be included in one’s diet. From milkshakes, smoothies, curd bowls and many other decadent options that one can try, milk and milk products are one of your best bets for a post workout vegetarian meal. 

4. Quinoa 

A popular plant-based legume, quinoa is also an excellent source of protein, containing all nine amino acids required by the human body. The whole-grain is not just gluten-free, but also enriched with plenty of fibre. One can experiment with quinoa in a lot of ways. From a refreshing quinoa salad, to quinoa tikkis, risotto, and much more. You can also add it to your post-workout meal in the form of quinoa oats and quinoa upma.  

5. Nuts and Seeds 

Quick and easy to consume, nuts such as peanuts, cashews, almonds, walnuts and seeds like pumpkin, chia, flax, and sunflower are great snacks to add protein to your daily diet. While you can simply chew nuts as is, you can add seeds to any of your meals including shakes, salads and smoothies. Just remember not to heat or roast the seeds as this kills the healthy fatty acids they contain.