Here is What You Should Eat Post-Workout, According To A Nutrition Coach

  • how we decide to refuel post-workout can directly impact our body composition, recovery and performance

While most of us understand the importance of fueling our body before working up a sweat, we don’t give much thought to what we put in our body after working out. Turns out, how we decide to refuel post-workout can directly impact our body composition, recovery and performance , says Jessica Cifelli, M.S, Nutrition Coach and Certified Personal Trainer.

A post-exercise meal “aids in replenishing the energy you’ve used up during your workout,” says Cifelli. “It also improves the size and quality of your muscles and repairs the damage you’ve caused during the activity”, adds the Master Instructor at CYCLEBAR.

Beyond simply repairing your body from the workout, it also helps provide nutrition and hydration. Here’s a roundup of ten scrumptious snacks that will  refuel your energy without ruining your workout:

  • Greek Yogurt With Fresh Berries: 
  • Greek yogurt is an excellent source of protein and calcium. While fruits like blueberries and strawberries are chock full of vitamins, dietary fiber and antioxidants. Together they make a quick and nutrition-dense snack that will satiate your hunger in a jiffy. Eating protein-packed snacks is a great option post-workout as “protein consumption after weight training is synthesized for up to 48 hours after the workout is complete,” explains Cifelli.
  • Tuna And Crackers: 
  • This quick and easy snack is packed with protein, vitamins (A, B-6 and B-12), omega-3 fatty acids and iron. Other than improving cardiovascular health, omega-3 fatty acids also alleviate muscle inflammation caused by an intense workout. Meanwhile, protein boosts metabolism and helps repair tissues. To make this mini meal even more nutritious, use whole grain crackers instead of processed ones.
  • Sweet Potato: 
  • Sweet potato is an excellent source of complex carbohydrate and vitamins A, C and B-6. It also contains protein, dietary fiber and minerals like calcium and magnesium. Magnesium strengthens bones and helps maintain healthy muscles while the complex carbs keep you fueled for hours. Baked, grilled, mashed, or roasted – you can eat them however you like. I particularly like this Mediterranean Baked Sweet Potatoes recipe.
  • Hard-Boiled Egg With A Side of Fruit: 
  • A perfect mini meal that’s filling, healthy and portable. Consuming fruits like bananas, berries, dates and grapefruit is a great way to replenish after a sweaty workout. They are loaded with vitamins, folate, antioxidants and macronutrients such as iron, calcium and potassium. Moreover, natural sugar or fructose present in fruit provides energy. Meanwhile, eggs contain protein – which facilitates recovery and muscular growth.
  • Peanut Butter Smoothie: 
  • This delish smoothie is high in carb, protein and healthy fats that assist post-exercise recovery and keep you full till your next meal. You can also add strawberries and bananas to the drink to make it tastier and healthier. This Peanut Butter & Chocolate Banana Smoothie recipe is my favorite.
  • Homemade Trail Mix: High protein content, healthy fats, dietary fiber and minerals make trail mix a healthy post-workout snack. But you should be wary of storebought mixes that contain saturated fats, added sugar and a slew of other additives. The best option is to create your own trail mix at home. All you need to do is combine nuts like almonds, raisins, pistachios and walnuts with sunflower or pumpkin seeds. You can also add dried fruits like prunes and cranberries for added flavor. Get the recipe here. Store it in a resealable plastic bag and enjoy!
  • Banana And Almond Butter:
  •  Almond butter is packed with protein -a nutrient that assists muscle repair and growth after exercise. It’s also a good source of calcium, iron and fiber. While banana contains carbs that are essential for replenishing muscle glycogen and regulating blood sugar levels.
  • Hummus With Whole Wheat Pita: Made with mashed chickpeas, this delish dip contains both carb and protein. It’s also a good source of iron and dietary fiber. Spread it over whole wheat pita bread for a delectable snack that will quickly refuel you after a sweat sesh.
  • Cottage Cheese And Fruit:
  •  Other than protein, calcium and magnesium, cottage cheese also has a high water content (nearly 80%). Thus eating cottage cheese is a great way to replenish fluids in your body after sweating it out in the gym. Throwing in fruits like apple, banana, peach or mango can make this snack even more filling and delicious.
  • Dates With Sunflower Seed Butter:
  •  In this post-exercise snack recipe, the dates provide slow release energy while sunflower seeds butter is high in protein, iron and zinc. It also contains copper that facilitates production of energy. You can easily make sunflower seed butter at home by following this recipe.

In case you don’t have a quick post-workout snack on hand, have a protein shake or protein heavy bar as an alternative, says Cifelli.

Note that “many protein bars and shakes in the store are simply glorified candy bars and milkshakes”, says the nutrition coach. “Be sure to look beyond the protein content by checking the carbohydrates, sugar content and look through the ingredient lists to avoid unwanted chemicals and fake sugars,” she suggests.

The same goes for protein powders. “Most powders have to be processed to keep their shelf life and have an acceptable taste element,” says Cifelli. This is why creating your own bars or smoothies is a great option as “it allows you a more affordable, clearer indication of what is going into your snack,” she adds.

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