So you've just had a killer workout. What do you reach for when you get home? A candy bar? A bottle of water? The remote? I'm here today to give you some ideas for some great post-workout snacks to help keep your health in check.
It may seem counterintuitive; after all, you just worked out to get rid of calories! Why would you want to put more in your body? Well, because, science.
According to researchers and nutritionists, it's important to eat after a workout in order to help repair muscle tissues and restore glycogen, or energy levels (source). The calories you eat post-workout are used to restore energy and protein that were lost during your workout. In fact, the longer you wait to eat post-workout, the more your energy stores deplete. Waiting even 2 hours post-workout to refuel results in a 50% decrease in your body's ability to refill muscle energy stores, compared to grabbing a snack immediately (source).
My day is usually pretty jam-packed as it is, so I don't have time to make myself an icy-cold recovery shake, or flip myself a high-protein omelet. My go-to snacks are ones I can pack away in the morning and grab when I need them. I don't need to worry about refrigeration or prep of any kind; just grab and go! Without further ado, here are my 3 favorite post-workout snacks for the athlete on-the-go:
- Nuts! This quick, low-maintenance snack is an excellent source of protein. Almonds, for example, provide you with 7 grams of protein per 1 ounce serving! I use these little dressing containers to portion out my nuts at the beginning of the week, then I just grab one for the road! My favorite nuts are almonds, cashews, and walnuts.
- Banana and almond butter. Bananas sometimes get a bad rap, but don't be fooled by the high levels of fructose and carbs: that just means it can be converted into energy more quickly! Even more, when served with a tablespoon of almond butter, you are adding protein and some healthy fats. Plus, the potassium in bananas are crucial for muscle recovery!
- Jerky. I love me some jerky. LOVE. And now, I can have it, guilt-free! Having a 1 ounce service of jerky, particularly my favorite turkey jerky, provides enough calcium to help refuel the proteins for muscle recovery. Additionally, the amino acids in the protein are essential for post-workout muscles tissue rebuilding. For more information on the benefits of jerky, check out this video!
Some Snacking Tips:
- Always pair these snacks with at least 8oz of water, but chances are you'll crave more. Hydration is KEY to recovery. Check out my post on increasing your water intake for tips!
- Don't go bonkers with the protein. While protein is beneficial post-workout, you really only need 10-20 grams of protein to help refuel your muscles.
- Be mindful of the serving size. For example, if you have a bag of jerky for your post-workout snack, read the label to determine how much of that is actually one serving. Chances are, there are multiple servings in that bag. High-protein snacks don't equal low-calorie too. You want to refuel your body, but not derail your progress.
- Take into account the time between your workout snack, and your next meal. I often workout between lunch and dinner, so my workout snack may be more substantial than say, a workout that ends 90 minutes before dinnertime. You may find recipes for smoothies that call for everything but the kitchen sink, and while it has mucho grams of protein, it also has mucho calories - more than you need to tie you over for dinner. Be mindful about your caloric intake and you'll continue smoothly on your journey to health!
- If you are interested in how much of which nutrients your body needs to replenish after a workout,checkout this post on Spark People.
- For more tremendous healthy snack ideas, head to Nuts.Com. Their Healthy Snacks page is broken down into different categories of healthy snacks (like Vegan Snacks, or Healthy Snacks for Kids) to help refine your search. The page also includes information on other health and nutrition related topics.
What are your favorite post-work out snacks? I'm always looking to add to my arsenal!
This post was inspired by Nuts.Com and I did not receive any compensation for this post. All opinions are my own (in fact, I drafted this with my fave snacks BEFORE I even saw that Nuts.com offered these in their store! Go fig). Enjoy!