What you eat after a workout is just as important as what you eat before one. It can help to maximize your recovery, improve your performance in your next workout and help you to achieve your fitness goals.
Depending on the time of your workout, you may be able to consume a full meal afterward, but for those days where you’re caught off guard or are in-between meals here are 10 exceptional post-workout snacks for you to try.
What to Eat After a Workout
The objective of your post-workout nutrition is to refuel, repair, and rehydrate. During exercise, our bodies use up their energy stores from our muscles to get us through the session. This triggers the breakdown of proteins in our muscles and causes us to lose fluid through sweat. This is why what we eat after a workout is so important.
Although it can be tempting to eat something quick and easy, you should aim to eat foods that can help the body refuel, repair, and rehydrate properly and this comes from the key macronutrients; proteins, carbohydrates, and fluids.
Carbohydrates to Refuel
Carbohydrates are the body’s natural form of energy and are stored in our muscles as glycogen. During exercise, our glycogen levels are depleted which is what makes us tired. By consuming a snack or meal high in complex carbohydrates post-workout, we can help to restore those glycogen stores and initiate the recovery process.
Proteins to Repair
When we exercise our muscles start to breakdown muscle, of course, the exact amount depends on the length and intensity of exercise, but this does happen in some way, shape, or form. By consuming protein after working out it helps to repair and rebuild muscle and stimulate protein synthesis.
Fluids to Rehydrate
Drinking fluids after working out helps to replenish all the electrolytes lost through sweat during exercise. For the average gym-goer, water is more than enough to replenish these electrolytes after exercise, but for serious athletes, you may need post-workout recovery drinks.
Post Workout Snacks Ideas
Now that we’ve covered what you should aim to consume, let’s have a look at what that means in snack form.
Beef Biltong is a fantastic source of protein and makes for a great snack for people on the go as it is readily available in convenient grab-and-go pouches. One 35g pouch of Beef Biltong can provide you with almost half of your daily protein intake making it a great option for those trying to build muscle or lose weight. If you make it more of a regular purchase then buying Biltong by the box is also possible. Because Biltong is made from premium grass-fed beef and contains no nasty additives or preservatives, it’s a fantastic snack for anyone following a strict diet like Paleo or Keto. M-eat! are a biltong company that provides excellent biltong to get your protein fix.
No matter what time of the day you work out, boiled eggs are a quick and convenient snack that you can make quickly or store in your lunch box until after your gym session. Not only are eggs a fantastic source of protein, but they are also a natural source of cholesterol, which has been shown to have a beneficial effect on muscle building.
Research has shown that consuming a glass of chocolate milk 20-30 minutes after a workout can help aid your recovery because of its desirable 4:1 carbohydrate to protein ratio, making it ideal for helping your body to rebuild muscle after exercise. The sodium content in chocolate milk also helps to replace electrolytes lost from sweating, and its high calcium content helps to keep bones strong.
Greek Yogurt with Granola
Another great post-workout snack for people with busy lives is Greek yogurt with granola. Not only is it deliciously creamy, but it also contains the perfect amount of protein and carbohydrates. If you are opting for store-bought granola, be sure to read the ingredients and opt for versions low in sugar.
Cottage cheese is a fantastic source of dairy protein that helps to boost muscle growth and aid recovery. Similar to Greek yogurt, cottage cheese is low in calories but its high protein content will keep you full until your next meal.
Pitta Bread and Hummus
Pitta bread and hummus make for a delicious and stress-free post-workout snack. The carbohydrates from the pitta bread help to restore energy levels, whilst the iron and dietary fiber from the Hummus helps to key nutrients in the body. A post-workout snack of one pitta bread and two tablespoons of Hummus contains 11g of protein and 45g of carbohydrates.
Apple and Peanut Butter
After a tough training session, your body may crave something sweet to restore lost energy, which is why it’s recommended you consume something high in complex carbohydrates and protein. Peanut butter is a good source of protein and when paired with a piece of fruit such as slices of apple it works well as a tasty post-workout snack. If you’re allergic to peanut butter, or simply don’t like it then almond butter is just as good!
Blueberry Protein Smoothie
Blueberries are packed full of complex carbs and water. They digest slowly so you get a steady flow of energy after a workout, and they have also been proven to reduce muscle soreness after a workout. One great way to get them into your post workout routine is by adding them to a protein smoothie with almond milk, Greek yogurt, and avocado, and protein powder for the perfect blend of carbs, fats, and proteins.
Deli Meat Wrap
Deli meat such as sliced turkey or chicken can provide an impressive amount of protein per serving, which is why it makes for easy post workout snacks. Pair with a wholegrain wrap and some hot sauce and you’ve got the perfect blend of proteins and carbohydrates.
Melissa Weimer is a nutrition expert who has helped thousands of people to create a healthy diet for weight loss and to maintain a good health. Weimer is the author of “Your Body’s Role in Weight Loss,” a healthy lifestyle book that you can use as a template to lose weight.