How often do you consider your nutrition after a good climb session? What if I told you that eating nutritious foods post-climbing could help you climb better next time?

Climbing causes your muscles to fatigue quickly and your muscle energy stores to deplete rapidly. If you’ve ever left your climbing session feeling “pumped” and mentally exhausted then you know what I’m talking about. Refueling your fatigued and exhausted body post-climbing will help you recover appropriately, so next time you can finally send that problem you’ve been working on.

A healthy mix of carbohydrate and protein-rich foods will give your body the fuel it needs to recover from your climbing session. Carbohydrates help replenish your liver and muscle glycogen stores, which give you energy to get through the rest of your day and set you up for a well-fueled workout the next day. You want to aim to get roughly 45-60 grams of carbohydrates in your post-climb meal. Choose wholesome carbohydrate-rich foods like whole grains (rice, quinoa, barley, oats, whole grain bread and pasta), fruits, and starchy vegetables like sweet potatoes, beans, lentils, peas and corn.

Eating adequate amounts of good quality protein supports the growth and repair of your muscles, which helps climbers increase and maintain strength. Unless you are an ultra-endurance athlete or a bodybuilder, you don’t need excessive amounts of protein. On average, the human body can only use 25-30 grams of protein at a time; any protein consumed in excess of that is stored as fat. You can get adequate amounts of protein from 4 ounces of chicken, beef, pork or fish, 1 1⁄2 cups of tofu, or 3⁄4 cup of beans. Nuts, seeds, cheese, and whole grains also have protein, so be creative and add variety to your protein regimen.

And let’s not forget that vitamins and minerals found in fruits and vegetables can aid in recovery, help you maintain a healthy weight, and reduce your risk for chronic disease. Round out your recovery meal with some kind of colorful non-starchy vegetable like kale, spinach, peppers, onions, carrots, beets, etc. There are so many to choose from.

Ready to put your post-climbing recovery meal into action? Here are three excellent post-climbing meals that contain a healthy mix of proteins, carbohydrates and vitamins/minerals required for optimal recovery and health.

Chicken & Sweet Potato Stir Fry

Stir fries are an easy way to hit all the food groups for a tasty and nutritious recovery meal. Choose a protein (chicken, beef, pork, fish, tofu, beans), a carbohydrate (rice, sweet potatoes, noodles) and add some veggies with sauce and you’re good to go. Pictured above is chopped sweet potato cooked with chicken and broccoli and seasoned with a mixture of sesame oil, soy sauce and red chili sauce for spice. Click here for the full recipe.

One Pan Greek Salmon Bowls

Salmon is a lean source of protein packed with omega-3 fats that help reduce inflammation in the body, especially post-climbing. Sautéed zucchini, corn and tomatoes are topped with marinated salmon and sprinkled with feta cheese for a flavor-packed and hugely satisfying meal. Serve with crusty multigrain bread to soak up the remaining juices. Click here for the full recipe.

Oatmeal with Peanut Butter, Berries and Nuts

Perfect for after a morning workout, though I’m guilty of eating a loaded oatmeal bowl like this for lunch on the regular. This bowl is packed with plant-based protein and wholesome carbohydrates that will help you recover from your workout and give you sustained energy for the rest of your day. If you’re a texture person and you can’t stand rolled or instant oats, you might like steel cut oats better. They take a bit longer to cook, but have a firmer texture. Give them a try. Click here for the full recipe.

By Ashley Thomas, FA Peoria Member and Registered Dietitian. Ashley is a regular host on cookwithme.tv – check out her recipes and videos!