Whether you’re training for the upcoming Ukrop’s Monument Avenue 10k or simply looking to make the most of your regular workouts, I’ve got a few of my favorite post workout snacks to share with you.
I’m admittedly oversimplifying this and respect that there is much more science and depth involved in performance nutrition. For the sake of time, here’s the high level takeaway behind choosing the right types of foods and when after a good, sweaty workout…
- Eat protein and carbs. Not fat.
- Do this within 30 minutes of your workout.
- Be consistent and plan your post workout meals.
- This should go without saying, but stay hydrated.
One of the wonderful things about fat is that it slows digestion, helping us to feel fuller for longer. That’s not the goal here. I’m a big fan of good fats for many reasons, but after a workout, it’s important to avoid fat. The aim is to quickly replenish those muscle glycogen stores (sugar) that were depleted during our workout. That’s where carbs come in, fruit and dairy preferably.
Ingesting protein after a workout not only stimulates protein synthesis, building muscle but consistently doing so trains our bodies to do it more efficiently. Our muscles get the necessary nutrients. They repair. Energy is restored. After each workout, our muscles adapt and get better at recovering, building and being strong. Smart, right?
And because healthy post workout snacks do not rain down from the heavens outside our front doors after a long jog or from the ceiling tiles of our local gyms, we have to plan our meals. Just remember that protein and carb-rich snacks after a workout are critical for recovery and it optimizes the effects of all the hard work you just put in.
Here are a few ideas to keep you fueled up and feeling good, whole foods style…
- My personal favorite: 1 cup Greek yogurt + ½ cup berries or ¼ cup fruit jam + 1 tablespoon of chia seed
- Something a little more substantial: tuna or hummus on whole grain crackers, toast or pita; mix tuna with a little lemon juice, olive oil, sea salt and pepper; a banana on the side
- Keep it simple: 2 hard boiled eggs and a handful of dried cherries or 1-2 ounces of cheese and an apple
“Lack of activity destroys the good condition of every human being, while movement and methodical physical exercise save it and preserve it.”
Note that these are general recommendations for the average, healthy individual and do not take into account health conditions, food sensitivities or specific grams of carbs or protein for a particular body weight or intensity of workout.
Carbohydrates and fat for training and recovery. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/14971430
Dietary protein to support muscle hypertrophy. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22301837
Dietary protein for athletes: from requirements to optimum adaptation. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22150425
Nutrition for endurance sports: marathon, triathlon, and road cycling. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21916794
Feeding strategies of a female athlete during an ultraendurance running event. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21813918
Fueling strategies to optimize performance: training high or training low? http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20840562
Fasting and recovery from exercise. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20460259