Working out and eating can feel at odds with one another when the objective is to burn fat and achieve body goals. But actually, fitness and food can be more friends than foes when it comes to fueling your body. That’s where the right post-workout snacks make all the difference.
Why Post-Workout Snacks
While some people tend to grab a small bite before a sweat session to boost their energy and endurance levels, after your workout might be when what you eat matters most. That’s because after putting yourself through the paces, you need to help your body recover properly. The tiny tears that form in your muscles need proper nutrients to heal and grow stronger. You also need to stock back up on the glycogen stores spent while exercising.
Post-Workout Snack Breakdown
Now that you understand why post-workout snacks are important, let’s unpack the “what.” Going back to basics, it’s time to talk macronutrients:
- Proteins: As the building block of muscle, proteins are made up of amino acids, which help repair and build muscle. Great protein options include: chicken, tuna, eggs, salmon, cottage cheese, protein bar, and whey.
- Carbohydrates: Carbs act as an energy source for the body. When carbs are stored, it’s called glycogen, which is needed to grow muscle, feed glucose to the brain, and burn fat. Great carb options include: oatmeal, sweet potatoes, fruit, chocolate milk, rice cakes, and dark, leafy greens.
- Fats: Though they often get a bad rap, fats store nutrients and energy, protect vital organs, and give proteins a helping hand. Great fat options include: nuts, nut butters, olive oil, and avocados.
The Right Post-Workout Snack for Your Body
The post-workout snack you eat will be made up of one or more macronutrients, and the type of post-workout snack you choose will largely depend on what you body most needs. Those needs change according to the type of workout you do. Below are a few examples of the post-workout snack ideas ideal for your preferred fitness.
Strength-training: Pumping iron and feeling the steel is only part of how muscles and strength are made; you need food to do it’s part, too. Protein will be a key component to your post-workout snack, but don’t forget carbs and fats can make protein more productive in the body.
- Light strength training: One banana with one tablespoon of nut butter
- Heavy strength training: Two pieces of whole wheat toast topped with one mashed avocado and two sliced hard-boiled eggs
- Endurance training: When you go the distance in an intense workout session, your body is depleted of a lot of energy and nutrition (and water, too, so drink up!). To replenish the fuel, know that your post-workout snack might look more like a post-workout meal.
- An oatmeal parfait with fresh fruit and Greek yogurt
- Salmon and sweet potatoes
- A half of a whole-wheat bagel topped with apple slices and drizzled honey
- HIIT: High-intensity interval training with it’s short bursts of intense activity can use up a lot of oxygen quickly despite being considered more of an anaerobic activity. Like strength training, you’ll be burning calories long after the workout stops, so making sure you’ve got a post-workout snack combining protein and carbs will help your body recover.
- 8 oz of chocolate milk
- Protein shake made with blueberries and one scoop of protein
- Cottage cheese and a banana
- Yoga: To those without a mat practice, yoga may seem like just a lot of stretching. But to those who’ve struggled to balance in Crow or hold a Dancer’s Pose, you well know the muscle burn of lactic acid. Here are a few snacks to up the recovery power post poses.
- A fruit smoothie with added anti-inflammatory turmeric
- Hummus and carrot sticks
Don’t deprive your body of the food it needs to recover and be it’s best. Treat it to a healthy snack to refuel while still striving to reach your fat-burning body goals. What are your favorite post-workout snacks? Share with us in the comments!