There is certainly lots of hype from bodybuilders about what the post-workout meal should look like, but with a few healthy snacks under your belt, you’ll have the perfect combination to help you restore your muscles, consume essential vitamins and nutrients, and satisfy your hunger!
The most common “rules” for the post workout meal is a combination of protein, to build muscles, and carbohydrates to create an insulin spike to help move nutrients through your body (and only little fat). Fat slows digestion, and will certainly not benefit you post work-out. The one exception is omega-3 fatty acids, or natural food source fats, like that from cheese or lean meats, not butter and oil. The ideal snack size is about 200 calories or so, or about 15% of the calories that you are consuming in a day. Of course, on top of a quality snack, be sure to have LOTS of water!
Some studies show that you should eat as close to immediately after your workout. These 4 portable snacks are easy to prepare and throw in your gym bag, so you can eat, eat, eat, all the way home!
1. Greek Powerhouse: Pita and Hummus
Pita bread and hummus provide the perfect combination of carbs and protein that your body is craving. Most supermarkets carry a whole wheat version of pita bread that tastes great, and provides a healthy dose of iron, along with 6g of protein and almost 5g fiber. All that for only 170 calories! Hummus, a dip made from chickpeas (garbanzo beans) and often garlic or peppers, earns you another 5 grams of protein while only racking up about 45 calories in a serving!
2. Not just for Kids: Apple Slices and Cheese
Cheese and apples are another great, and tasty combo for an after workout fuel-up. Cut a few slices of low-fat Cheddar cheese to make one ounce (about 3-4 slices from a cheese brick). Extra Sharp Cheddar is a great choice…that extra flavor makes you feel like it’s a cheat, not a healthy snack! Slice up an apple before you go, or grab a bag of pre-sliced apples and toss in your workout bag. Try a few different types of apples to see which you like best. Ambrosia apples and Honeycrisp apples are really crunchy, almost mimicking the crunch of a cracker. That texture can also make you feel more satisfied!
3. Amped up Smoothie: Protein Shake and Banana
Protein shakes are a gym staple. Some people can’t even wait until they get home to get their protein fix, but these taste great when they are fresh blended with ice…just like a treat from a smoothie shop! Powders work well to mix a smoothie of protein powder, milk or yogurt and fruit. However, there are many ready to drink shakes that do a great job of replenishing your nutrients, and taste ALMOST as delicious! Peel a banana and pop it in the blender with the smoothie, or grab a bottle shake and the fruit for some heart healthy protein and the carb kick that you need after pumping iron!
4. Practically a Parfait: Yogurt and Berries
This is a snack for those “sweeties” out there. It just FEELS like dessert! At the supermarket, reach for plain yogurt instead of the premixed varieties that are really high in sugar. Mix 6 oz yogurt with any variety of fresh berries, or in a pinch, some thawed, frozen berries. If you really need some sweetness to your snack, consider topping it with a little granola for some crunch as well, or drizzle with 1 tablespoon honey. Or, if you must, try mixing half light vanilla flavored yogurt and half plain to cut some of the tartness, but minimize the sugar content. Try this “yogurt sundae” with peaches or nectarines, sliced grapes or chopped orange as well!