These energizing snacks pack the right nutrients to help you recover from your workout without undoing your calorie burn.
Here’s a common exercise dilemma:
Have you ever stepped off of the treadmill, ecstatic over the number of calories that you burned, only to realize that you are extremely hungry? Most of us can relate to this exercise dilemma, the internal conflict between having a snack and negating the effects of your workout. While it may seem as though eating after you exercise erases all of your hard work, experts suggest that your body actually needs food after physical activity. “After a tough workout, it’s best to eat a snack within 30-60 minutes that contain both carbohydrate and protein. Protein starts the muscle repair and recovery process, while carbohydrate helps restock those energy stores that were used during your sweat sesh,” explains Chrissy Carol, RD and triathlon coach from Snacking in Sneakers. Surprisingly, there are many ways to satisfy the munchies—sans guilt. Here are the best post-workout snack ideas, that won’t reverse the effects of your exercise.
Eggs and toast
Although eggs and toast are often confined within the “breakfast” category of our minds, this combo is a great post-workout snack for any hour of the day. According to Kelly Jones, a Philadelphia based sports dietitian, “it’s important post-workout to eat a combination of carbohydrate and protein.” Que the spotlight on a plate of fluffy, yellow eggs and crispy toast.
While you may be hesitant to chase your calorie-burning cardio with bread, Jones stresses that “carbohydrates stored in the muscles (glycogen) are the main energy source for moderate to intense exercise and must be replenished so they are available for your next workout, and for muscle recovery.” As for the protein, “eggs are a simple and wonderful complete protein source, providing all the necessary post-workout amino acids,” certified nutrition coach Dr. Candice Seti explains. “If you want the best bang for your buck, make sure that you don’t discard the yolk. The golden center harbors half the protein and the Vitamin D and important Omega 3 fatty acids,” says Dr. Seti. Although it may feel like you’re eating breakfast at absurd hours of the day, eggs and toast make for the perfect post-workout snack.
Chocolate cherry recovery smoothie
This smoothie is the chocolate cherry on top of a strenuous workout. According to Dr. Seti, “a glass of cherry juice can arm your body with an arsenal of antioxidants that fend off muscle damage. If you make a habit of having cherry juice every day, you will feel less muscle soreness and minimal strength loss following an endurance exercise routine.” We know what you’re thinking: cherry juice may be healthy, but that doesn’t necessarily mean you want to drink it straight from a cup. Fair point.
That’s why registered dietician Chrissy Carol recommends making a chocolate cherry recovery smoothie. “Combine Greek yogurt, chocolate milk, tart cherry juice, and a frozen cherry blend to make this delicious smoothie,” Carol instructs. In addition to protecting your muscles with cherries, “you’ll get high-quality protein and adequate carbohydrates.” Skeptical about consuming chocolate when you’re trying to be healthy? Don’t stress! Rebecca McConville,topplay
sports dietitian and author of Finding Your Sweet Spot- How to Avoid RED-S, deems chocolate milk the “gold standard for recovery,” as “milk has quick absorbing carbs, a blend of proteins such as whey and casein, fluid, and electrolytes.” Bottom line? This chocolate cherry smoothie is the perfect way to satisfy your post-workout snack craving and your sweet tooth!
While it’s essential to hydrate with 8 ounces of water after exercising, green tea is also a great compliment to any post-workout snack. “Green tea is not only your miracle elixir for burning fat and fighting free radical compounds, but it is also a great energy booster,” Dr. Seti explains. The tea is “also of value in your post-workout meals as it may be your best line of defense against free radicals that are induced by exercising” and are linked to many harmful diseases.
The best part about green tea? You can drink it all the time—unlike these healthy foods you should eat only in moderation. During the winter months, there’s nothing like fighting the frigid air outside the gym with a steaming mug of tea. Alternatively, if you’re sweaty from a summer workout, you can always take your green tea cold—or follow Dr. Seti’s advice and “try mixing some with your protein powder for double post-workout benefit!”
Sweet potatoes are another amazing post-workout snack that will help your body recover from exercising. While it may be easy to reward yourself with candy after a hard workout, the carbohydrates in candy are not good suppliers of energy. Nutritionist and health expert Lisa Richards warns that you should “avoid the temptation of eating simple sugars after your cardio workout. Instead, look to incorporate complex carbohydrates,” such as sweet potatoes into your post-workout snack.
The benefit of sweet potatoes? Dr. Seti explains that “wholesome carbs, like sweet potatoes, help refuel your body after an exhausting workout. If you don’t refuel, you might feel fatigued when your next workout session is due. This may also be the reason why you are unable to keep up with a daily exercise routine.” For a natural energy boost and healthy post-workout snack, sweet potatoes are often an excellent choice.