Whether you plan to go hard or take it easy, your body is always in a state of recovery after sweating it out.
While many people tend to grab a snack before working out—which is a great way to fuel your body and increase stamina—eating a little something directly after working out is just as important (if not more). But like anything, you have to go about it in the right way.
Eating a healthy snack will help you get the nutrients you need to restore your energy and repair your muscles. Here’s what you need to know.
Benefits of Post-Workout Snacking
When you workout, your body is tearing up and rebuilding muscle tissue. Giving your body the right nutrition after a hard sweat is essential to rebuild damaged muscle tissue and replenish glycogen stores, which are stored carbs.
The body is also always slightly inflamed and filled with lactic acid after a workout, so it’s primed for recovery through healthy foods.
Lastly, food contains electrolytes (a.k.a. minerals that your neurons need to fire properly), which you lose when you sweat.
When and How to Snack
It’s recommended that you start chowing down as soon as 30 minutes to 60 minutes after a solid workout. If you have time, it’s great to prepare something quick right after doing your thing.
As with pre-workout snacks, post-workout meals should include a balance of complex carbohydrates to revitalize your energy, as well as a little protein to help recover those muscles. Athletes doing intense weight training or cardio of more than hour require slightly more protein than the average person. A good way to calculate is by dividing your weight by 2.2, then multiplying that number by .4 to get an idea of how much protein you need.
In general, snacks should be kept to around 150 to 200 calories if you’re aiming to maintain weight or lose weight. Eating more than that could be counterproductive to your fitness goals.
Here are some snack ideas to replenish your body after working up a sweat.
The Best Post-Workout Snack Ideas
Along with being sweet and delicious, dates are excellent sources of magnesium and potassium, which is great to help revitalize post-workout. It also helps to flush out any excess salt and water weight.
Other nutrient-dense fruits to eat include bananas and oranges. Oranges are especially beneficial because they’re mostly water and they’re high in nutrients like vitamin C, which can help you rehydrate and help decrease muscle inflammation. Plus, the sugars in fruit can give you a quick energy boost.
A low-sugar trail mix delivers just the right mix of protein and carbs to replenish glycogen stores and protein to give you some energy. Just make sure you get a mix that doesn’t have too many dried fruits or chocolate.
Hummus and Crackers
This combo delivers you plenty of carbs and vegetarian protein from the chickpeas. It’s easy to pack or whip up at home. Make sure you get whole wheat crackers to get more of those complex carbs.
Greek yogurt with berries
Greek yogurt is one of the most easily digestible protein sources. Pairing greek yogurt with some antioxidant-packed berries will deliver the carbs, plus a boost of energy from the sugar.
Green Protein Smoothie
A smoothie made nutrient-dense greens, a protein-rich milk, and a banana will cover all of your bases post-workout. It’ll also keep you feeling full until your next solid meal. We have an original superfood green smoothie recipe for you – you’re welcome.
Peanut Butter Sandwich
If you’re short on time or need an easy snack to pack in your gym bag, this childhood favorite is an excellent choice after working out. Sugar-free peanut butter will give you all the protein you need, while whole wheat toast is the best source for slow-release carbs.
Don’t Forget to Hydrate
While eating the right amount of calories from the right foods is critical to reach your fitness goals, rehydrating is just as important.
Replenishing the fluids your body lost while sweating should be the first thing you do as soon as your workout is complete. A solid 8 to 16 ounces of water after a good workout will do wonders for your energy and body.