Working out is very commendable, but you still need to pay attention to how you refuel afterward. According to the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, you should eat a snack or meal within 15-60 minutes of exercise in order to replace fluid and electrolytes and muscle fuel (or carbohydrates), as well as to provide protein to “aid in the repair of damaged muscle tissue and to stimulate development of new tissue.” The following snacks will help you to do just that.
Turkey is well-known as a lean source of protein. When combined with whole-wheat bread, you will also get a necessary injection of carbohydrate. Don’t be tempted to go overboard with spreads, cheese or dressing, however – instead, add tomato, lettuce or watercress so that you fit in some nutritious vegetables too.
Smoothies make a nutritious and filling post-workout snack because they’re versatile and you can blend whatever types of fruit you enjoy. Smoothies based on banana and/or yogurt can be particularly satisfying following a workout. Even better, if you can’t be bothered to make up your own smoothie, there are plenty of ready-made options you can buy.
Museli, fruit and yogurt
If you’re heading home after your workout, the combination of museli, fruit and yogurt is a quick and easy solution to rebuilding energy levels. Try low fat Greek-style yogurt for a blast of protein without too much fat and differ the fruit according to your mood. Berries can add just the right amount of tartness and the museli adds a much needed portion of grains.
Hummus and pita bread
Hummus is made from chickpeas and therefore provides your body with both protein and carbohydrates. Coupled with some whole-wheat pita, you have a snack that will help your body continue to release energy for hours afterwards. Alternatively, chop up some raw carrot, cucumber, celery and pepper and dip slices in the hummus for a tasty snack with extra vitamins.
Rice cakes are often considered to be boring, but they can form part of a tasty snack if combined with cottage cheese, peanut butter, fruit or vegetables. They are low in calories, so you can munch on three or four without doing too much damage calorie-wise — although of course, it really depends on what accompanies them.
Dried fruit and nuts
A handful of dried fruit and nuts can be an ideal snack following a workout. The nuts provide plenty of protein and good fats, and the dried fruit, in moderation, can provide you with enough sweetness to stop you from craving chocolate or something equally unhealthy. Make sure you drink plenty of water at the same time, which will help replace fluids and fill you up more quickly.
Eggs are high in protein and can make a delicious snack if turned into an omelette. Instead of combining the omelette with cheese, go for a healthy selection of vegetables. Any vegetables will do, but onions, pepper and tomatoes are particularly tasty. If you can’t eat an omelette without cheese, top it with a handful of grated low-fat cheese.
When you’ve finished a workout, you may be tempted to head for something quick, sweet and probably unhealthy. However, if you are well-prepared, there are plenty of healthy snack options that will help your body recover and are delicious at the same time.