Post-workout snacks are probably more important than grabbing a bite to give you a stamina boost before the start of your gym routine. However, take care after working up a sweat, you don’t want to overdo it and negate all the calories you just burned!
To maintain peak energy levels throughout the day, you need to refuel with the right food within two hours after exercise. That means eating snacks to replenish lost glycogen stores, which will aid in muscle rebuild and recovery.
Post-exercise you want to aim for around 200-300 calories for every hour of exercise, and a 2-to-1 ratio of carbs to protein.
While everyone’s nutritional requirements are different depending on their goals and activities, the right snacks can offer the right balance of carbohydrates, fats, and protein. Post-exercise aim for around 200-300 calories for every hour of exercise, and a 2-to-1 ratio of carbs to protein. Any snack should also be easily digestible since blood flow will still be focused around muscles, not digestion – and don’t forget to drink plenty of water.
1) Protein shakes
Without doubt the most popular quick-and-easy post-workout snack. They consist of just two or three scoops of whey protein powder combined with water or milk. You could also include half a banana since your body quickly turns it into energy. Get into the good habit of preparing your shake before your gym session - and throw into your kit bag. Protein powders come in various flavours including vanilla, strawberry and chocolate.
2) Hummus & Pita
Hummus, a dip made from pureed chickpeas, gives you both carbs and protein. A couple of tablespoons are best combined with wholewheat pitta bread for slow-release energy – it makes for a snack that’ll keep you fuelled for hours.
As an alternative, slice a hard-boiled egg in half and spread each side with one tablespoon of hummus. The yolk contains crucial amino acids that aid in muscle repair. Add chopped chives or red pepper flakes on top for flavour.
Low-fat yogurt is a firm post-workout favourite – which is not surprising as it contains nearly 15 grams of protein, and protein is great after a workout, since it contains amino acids that help build muscle. You could add some berries for carbohydrate-driven energy.
The combination of yogurt, orange and peppers is also a nutritious combo recommended by fitness experts. Vitamin C-rich red peppers and oranges help prevent some of the exercise-induced oxidative stress to your muscles that occurs during intense workout sessions.
Another alternative is to grab a cup of your favorite yogurt and pair it with a half cup of granola. You could even make your own granola - douse oats with a bit of orange juice, toss in nuts and dried fruit, and bake until lightly browned.
What could be more filling after a workout than a traditional sandwich? And when you choose the filling wisely, you'll be helping build muscle too! Just remember to keep it small – a slice of whole grain bread is ideal with tuna or a bit of light tuna salad.
The alternative is a lean turkey sandwich or, try spreading peanut butter on a slice of whole-grain bread and topping it off with a few slices of ripe banana. You could even toast your slice of bread, spread tuna and drizzle with a little lemon juice and olive oil spread.
If you're not in the mood for a sandwich, skip the bread and eat the fillings on their own! Spread a soft-cheese wedge over two or three slices of lean deli turkey, then roll up for a quick, high-protein, snack. Add a sliced apple for some energy-boosting carbs.
A mix of nuts is a great way to refuel post workout. Snack on a quarter-cup of dry roasted nuts for a healthy dose of protein and good-for-you fats. Try pistachios because they’re richer in potassium, which is an electrolyte you lose through sweat, than most other nuts.
For something different there are macadamia nuts and dried coconut, or why not try toasted soy nuts? Two ounces of dried soybeans contain 34 grams of protein and less fat than other nuts. Pair them with a small amount of apple, grape, or cranberry juice.