Does your stomach feel like it’s churning in knots or eating itself following an after school rehearsal or weekend competition? Fortunately, you are probably just hungry after expending so much energy! Believe it or not, you stomach is always moving to break down food in order to use its multiple energy forms. When eating within 1-2 hours after rehearsal, we are helping our bodies replenish glycogen (stored carbohydrates), maintain fluid and electrolyte balance, and assist against in healing damaged muscles (1).
Most of us go home after rehearsal and say, “What’s for dinner?” or swing by a fast food restaurant to get that double stacked cheeseburger you saw on TV. But with a little pre-planning, you can make these 5 simple meals that will help fuel your body’s recovery process and get you ready for better reps during the next rehearsal!
1. 3 Egg Omelet and Avocado Toast
Breakfast for dinner??? It may sound like this post rehearsal meal should be saved for the next morning, but cooking time for this meal is only a few short minutes! Studies have shown that within a few hours of finishing physical activity, 20g of protein was found to be the optimal amount for muscle synthesis and repair (1). One egg has approximately 6g of protein which means you only have to shell out a few cents each meal to get your protein fill!
Whole grain toast provides complex carbs that will replenish glycogen storages for your body to burn while you sleep. Avocado and egg yolks offer enough healthy fats that give the meal a flavor, but not so much as to slow down absorption of the proteins and carbs.
2. Oven Baked Chicken and Vegetables
This straightforward meal requires as little as 2 baking sheets and an oven heated to 400ºF! Placing a chicken breast on one baking sheet with a nice olive oil coat, sprinkle your favorite spices/seasonings on top for a flavorful poultry protein!
On the other baking sheet spread spread a thin layer of that olive oil with chopped vegetable (i.e. peppers, leafy greens, squash, zucchini, etc.) on top. Once the oven is preheated, place the chicken in followed by the vegetables about 10 minutes later. Leave both in for another 15 minutes and Voila! In the time it takes to rinse off in the shower, you can bake your fill of protein and complex carbohydrates to sustain a delicious and balanced post-rehearsal meal.
3. Cottage Cheese and Fruit Bowl
We understand, cheese shouldn’t look that lumpy! But once you get past the texture, cottage cheese will provide your body with large amounts of protein. If you have trouble getting past the texture, you can supplement it with low-fat greek yogurt. Adding diced fruit to the mix (i.e. apples, melons, berries, bananas, etc.) will give natural sources of carbohydrates as well as sweeten up the the milk curds.
This scoop and serve meal makes for a great post rehearsal meal packed with protein and hydrating fruits!
(Image source: https://www.livestrong.com/article/437808-different-ways-to-eat-cottage-cheese/)
4. Salmon and Sweet Potato
Another quick oven-baked meal uses salmon as the protein and healthy omega-fat source. A filet of this fish only needs an oiled baking sheet and 15 minutes in a 400ºF oven to cook through. Season the salmon with salt, pepper, and lemon for a little extra zest. The natural oils and fats in the fish will also help lubricate joints.
To replenish those carbohydrate stores, place a sweet potato on a microwave safe plate and poke a few holes into it using a fork. Place it in the microwave oven for 5-8 minutes and flip it half way through. This sweet starch goes well with the zesty and flaky salmon for a great meal to end the day.
5. Tuna Salad Sandwich
This sounds like a 1950s lunch item, and it is, but it can pack a punch when it comes to carbs and proteins. Using wither canned or fresh tuna, place it in a bowl with chopped celery, pickle relish, light mayonnaise, mustard, salt, and pepper to taste. Mix it thoroughly to shred the fish and evenly distribute the ingredients. Lastly, spread the filling between two slices of whole grain wheat bread and call yourself “Big Tuna” because you just made a tuna salad sandwich! With the tuna’s protein and the bread’s complex carbs, your body will thank you for the nutrients you provided.
A cold glass of milk has been shown to help increase the speed of muscle recovery and has led to more fat-free muscle mass after exercise (1). So feel free to add a glass of milk to any of these meals to help with that protein uptake and usage throughout your body!
Last, but certainly not least, make sure to hydrate by drinking several glasses of water or even an sports drink containing electrolytes after rehearsal. This will help balance fluid lost from sweating and stabilize the electrolyte levels in the body (2).
All food and meal suggestions provided were provided by Semeco.
1. Reid, K. “Performance Food: Promoting Foods with a Functional Benefit in Sports Performance.” Nutrition Bulletin, vol. 38, no. 4, Dec. 2013, pp. 429-437. EBSCOhost, doi:10.1111/nbu.12065.
2. Semeco, Arlene. “Post-Workout Nutrition: What to Eat After a Workout.” Healthline, Healthline Media, 20 Sept. 2016, www.healthline.com/nutrition/eat-after-workout#section5.