In the world of getting svelte (feel free to replace with jacked, cut, huge, or, simply, strong), there is an ever-growing, increasingly-daunting online database of conflicting information on how to best gain muscle. While some people declare carbs to be the enemy in their ongoing efforts to remain in a state of ketosis, others swear that the only way to grow is to eat as dirty as possible. Some exercise enthusiasts swear by epically-sized cheat meals, and others stick to a stiff regimen of eating clean and training mean. This all just goes to show that not only do people have varying opinions but also that different dietary tactics work for different people.
One of the nicest things about canned foods is that they come in their own takeout container. Black beans have about six grams of protein, 19 grams of carbs, and a negligible amount of fat in a serving size of one half cup. With that being said, you shouldn’t feel guilty about downing a can while you’re on the go. Don’t forget a spoon, and if you can toss some in a portable container with rice, we support you.
Chocolate milk has reached an almost mythic state in some exercise circles. Cheap to buy and easy to make, chocolate milk will provide you with not only the carbs and protein your muscles scream for, but also rehydration via its high water content. Some athletes swear by it, so maybe you should too.
Fat-Free Greek Yogurt
Greek yogurt, a great alternative to meat, comes in a variety of forms, and any of these forms is a good post-workout snack option. As long as you have a spoon, you can enjoy this prepackaged, naturally-probiotic, muscle-building food on the go anywhere. Teeming with protein, some varieties of fat-free Greek yogurts can include quick sources of carbohydrates like pineapple and berries.
Gatorade and Amino Acids
If you think that you’ll only have time for a liquid meal, look to Gatorade and an amino acid supplement as a quick way to feed your muscles. Gatorade’s electrolytes and simple sugars paired with an amino acid (the building blocks of protein) supplement can provide your muscles with fuel until you are able to eat a solid meal. The best part? You’ll be getting your nutrients from portable bottles.
Beef jerky may seem like a road-trip-only, truck-stop-especially junk food item, but when you take a closer look at its macronutrient profile you can see that it’s not a bad post-workout option while on the go. With most varieties including incredible levels of protein and nearly no fat, beef jerky is almost an ideal on-the-go muscle builder. And, for those who won’t go near beef, there are prepackaged bison and turkey jerkies available as well.
Coming from the Turkish word for “feeling good,” kefir is a yogurt-like, bottled liquid that will (hopefully) make your muscles feel good after a killer workout. With twice the amount of “healthy” bacteria as regular yogurt, kefir’s high protein and carbohydrate content and portable container make it a drink perfect for exercisers of any level that are on the move.
Muesli and Cottage Cheese
Cottage cheese comes in a few different varieties, but at the end of the day they’re all in containers. With fat-free cottage cheese containing moderate levels of carbs and high levels of protein, mixing in some carbohydrate-dense muesli to your tub of cottage cheese renders it an ideal post-workout snack. While you can find premade muesli in stores you can also be adventurous and make your own.
Mason jars are trendy. Oats are healthy. Making a protein- and carb-rich variety of overnight oats in an easily-portable mason jar could possibly be the healthiest and most easily portable way to refuel your muscles after a vigorous spin class or chest day at the gym. If a mason jar is too trendy for you, feel free to replace it with Tupperware.
Rice Cakes and Peanut Butter
Not everyone is willing to have a fatty meal post-workout, but for those who don’t fear healthy fats after exercising, this snack is for you. Rice cakes come in a wide variety. Pairing them with natural peanut butter can be a two-ingredient way to ingest a large quantity of carbohydrates and healthy fats post-workout. While this meal of rice and peanuts may not top the charts in protein content, it will certainly fill you up. If calories are what you want, consider these other spreads as well.
Not all protein bars are made the same, and while some may argue with us on this one, Quest Bars are one of the best prepackaged bars to eat after a workout while on the move. We haven’t encountered a Quest Bar without a quality protein blend listed as its first ingredient, and nearly all of their carbohydrates come from dietary fiber. While whole, natural food sources should be prioritized, Quest Bars aren’t a bad decision in a pinch.
Whey Protein Blends
Again, in an ideal world everyone would be able to sit down and eat a plate of chicken and brown rice after their workout. In the fast-paced world we live in, however, sometimes a quick protein shake is what’s called for. With many varieties containing around 25 grams of protein per scoop, you can’t ask for an easier way to suck down your post-workout fuel. While some varieties contain close to zero grams of carbohydrates, others are made with specifically designed carbs to assist your body’s rebuild post-workout. With that being said, identifying your goals and researching is always important before buying any protein supplement.
The accompanying slideshow is provided by special contributor Molly Aronica.