By: Rachel McNamara
Bravo for working out and making it a priority for your health, both mental and physical. Food is such an essential part of enabling the body to run efficiently and fueling it for optimal health. Post workout snacks play an important role in muscle repair and refueling protein and carbohydrates after exercise. Therefore, eating after your workout is important not only to replenish those diminished energy stores but also for your muscles to maximize their gains after a strenuous workout.
A snack high in both carbohydrates and protein while being low in added sugar is ideal. Eating a snack within 30 minutes post-workout is the best time to refuel as your body absorbs the nutrients like a sponge, much faster due to the depletion of its stores. However, it is important to note that you still need to be mindful of your portions and not overestimate how many calories you burn during your workout. Ideally, a snack should hover around 150-200 calories.
Exercise does not make food a free for all. However, that doesn't mean you cannot enjoy a delicious and healthy snack.
Here are some simple suggestions to make the most out of your workout:
1. Greek Yogurt
A good option is plain, non-fat Greek yogurt with berries such as blackberries, blueberries and strawberries. Add a sprinkle of granola or a drizzle of honey for a touch of more sweetness. Greek yogurt is a powerhouse of protein, on average containing 23 grams of protein per 1 cup serving with low sugar (around 8 or 9 grams) and reasonable calories (typically 120-150).
2. Sweet Potatoes
These are the queens of beta carotene (Vitamin A) as well as being a good source of Vitamin C, manganese, copper and Vitamin B6. They are also an excellent source of potassium and dietary fiber. Sweet potatoes are complex carbohydrates therefore, they stabilize the blood sugar and keep you satiated much longer than a simple carbohydrate. This makes them a perfect, nutritious choice for replenishing your energy stores post workout. In addition, they can be made sweet or savory, eaten hot or cold, are easy to prep ahead of time, very affordable and travel well from the gym to work.
3. Peanut butter/almond butter and apple slices
This snack is a great mix of proteins and carbohydrates. Something to be aware of is to portion out your nut butter. You want to measure out about a tablespoon, not spoonful! If possible, try to purchase organic nut butters. Whole Foods Market and Fresh Market both have these options, free of preservatives and additives.
4. Hummus and 1 whole wheat pita.
Hummus is pureed chickpeas so this combo is a great source of protein/carbs. Hummus can be high in calories so try to be mindful and portion it out appropriately. There are about 110 calories per ¼ cup and select whole wheat/whole grain pita free of refined grains and ones that are not heavily processed.
5. Quest Bars, particularly the Double Chocolate Chunk
These protein bars have 20 grams of protein, 23 grams of carbohydrates, 180 calories on average, 13 grams of fiber (bonus!) and potassium, vitamin A, iron and calcium. They also have less than 1 gram of sugar. We should be aware that protein bars vary in ingredients, drastically. Some are equivalent to eating a candy bar so this snack option requires label reading especially since there are so, so many versions out there. However, especially when you're on the go or traveling, this is a good choice.
Proper nutrition is essential for your body’s wellness and functionality. Make post workout snacks work for you by making mindful, healthy choices. Your body will reap the benefits of exercise, run like a well-fueled machine and leave you feeling vital and full of energy.
Photo Source: Call me PMC
About the Author:
Rachel McNamara is a Registered Nurse and Certified Health Coach with a passion for all things related to wellness, health and fitness. She just purchased her first essential oil diffuser and is beyond excited. She is also obsessed with (in no particular order) skincare, Bravo TV, red wine and podcasts. Find her on Instagram at @rachelmcnamara8053.