When you exercise regularly, protein needs to become your best friend… think of it as the Amy Schumer to your Jennifer Lawrence.

It’s essential that we are eating enough protein to maintain and build all those precious muscles we’ve been working so hard for. Did you know that protein is also the thing that helps to maintain our tendons, ligaments, hair and skin? Plus it promotes the feeling of fullness, satisfies hunger and reduces the need for extra, unnecessary calories, meaning those abs will just get better and better.

Consuming protein in meals up to half an hour after exercise is when our cells are most receptive to the benefits. After killing your workout, rewarding your body with the right nutrients is key to maintaining a healthy lifestyle and doing it the right way.

How much is enough?

The recommended intake is between 0.7 to 1.7 grams per kilogram of body weight (a lot more than you’d think, right?)

What’s the best source?

Great sources include meat, poultry, fish, dairy, nuts, seeds, legumes and beans, as well as your grains such as rice, quinoa and multigrain bread. You can’t exercise without proteins playing a key role so you better get ready to kick up a protein love affair. Proteins increase your performance when exercising, are used for building muscle tissue and repairing damaged tissues, so you might want to start adding some of these into your post exercise meal.

Post-workout treats are endless! Here are 5 of our favourites to quickly grab and enjoy next time you’ve exercised.

Quinoa

South American quinoa is a rarity because it contains a full package of all those essential amino acids, meaning that it’s a complete protein powerhouse with muscle-making potential.

Yoghurt

This is a great protein rich food with its killer combination of Casein and whey powder.
It releases its amino acids slowly, so is particularly useful in the morning after your early exercise. Add it into your breakfast smoothie for a quick hit.

Pistachio nuts

Nuts such as pistachios are a practical protein choice if you’re on the move. Around 50  pistachios will provide 6g of protein, plus sodium and potassium – perfect for replacing those electrolytes lost in sweat during exercise.

Broccoli

An incredibly healthy vegetable, calorie for calorie, it is high in protein compared to most vegetables, plus it’s loaded with various bioactive nutrients believed to help protect against cancer. And it’s so versatile; eat it raw with a dip, roast it, fry it – you can even blitz it into your smoothies!

Cottage cheese

Okay so this one isn’t winning a popularity contest any time soon, but it’s very low in fat and calories compared to its fellow cheeses. It is loaded with calcium and various nutrients: a simple cup of cottage cheese contains 27 grams of protein and 194 calories. Why not mix with some avocado? Roughly mash it up, season and add a dash of lemon juice, then smear across a rice cake. Hello healthy, nutritious and tasty smashed Avo for brekkie.