Fueling up for a good workout is majorly important! It helps us give it our all — we can go harder, better, faster, stronger. However, it’s just as important to replenish our energy levels AFTER exercise. It can be really tricky to find a snack to provide balance. You just worked your butt off (literally or figuratively) to burn some calories and work your muscles, so what are the best options for a post-workout snack that won’t undo your entire workout?
Protein always seems to hog the spotlight at this point, but carbohydrates deserve some serious recognition as well. Both of them play a vital role in keeping our muscles strong and happy. This makes the ideal snack after a sweat session a healthy combination of proteins and carbs.
When we do strength training or any sort of strenuous activity with our muscles, they develop small tears. Protein’s role is to repair and rebuild our muscles and take care of those tears. Carbs come into play by replenishing our energy stores. Our bodies keep a quick form of energy in our muscles called glycogen. Glycogen can be quickly converted to glucose on the spot to give our muscles the power they need. This form of energy is a product of carbohydrates! After any activity, our glycogen stores are decreased and need to be replenished, and carbs are just the macronutrient for the job.
As far as what foods provide us with an ample supply of carbs and proteins, let’s think outside of the bread box. Healthy carb-rich choices include bread, pasta, and grains, obviously, but also dairy products and fruit! Our post-workout protein doesn’t have to come from a protein powder, either. Dairy pulls double duty as another excellent source of protein (and calcium for strong bones), as do beans, nuts, and legumes. Make post-workout snacks a delicious part of your workout routine with some of these mix-and-match examples!
- Peanut butter
- Greek yogurt
- Low-fat yogurt
- Low-fat cottage cheese
- Low-fat cheese
- Whole grain rice cakes
- Whole wheat toast
- Low-fat chocolate milk
While you’re at it, check out some of these make-ahead snacks and meals to have on hand after your next sweat session: