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Post-Work Out Fuel

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by Maria Adams, MS, MPH, RD

A proper post-work out snack can be a challenge to fit into our busy lives, but ideally you should look at it as part of your cool down routine.

Here are some quick and easy ideas to help you get into the habit of having a healthy snack after you work out. You will feel better as the day goes on and be less inclined to overeat at your next meal. Plus your metabolism is already revved up from your workout, so you are burning calories at a higher rate.

A proper post-workout snack is also necessary to replenish glycogen and ease muscle recovery. Glycogen is the storage form of carbohydrate found in the liver and muscles. The body taps into these glycogen stores during long or intense workouts. Intense or endurance workouts include spinning classes, cycling, long runs, or other moderate to intense exercise that last for 45 minutes or more.

If your exercise is less intense, think yoga, walking, or a 20 minute run, you don’t need to worry as much about replenishing glycogen stores, but you should still have a proper snack.

What is a proper post-workout snack? It should contain a mix of protein and carbohydrates. A little healthy fat is ok too. Ideally you should eat within 30 minutes of exercising.

So next time you finish a work out and find yourself crunched for time, give one of these snacks a try:

Quick fixes

  • Smoothie (smoothies are excellent because they go down easily and can provide a nice mix of carbs and protein, plus the more fruits and veggies you put in there the more packed with vitamins and minerals and antioxidants it is)
  • Granola and Greek yogurt topped with fresh berries
  • Greek yogurt topped with chia seeds, pumpkin seeds, sliced bananas, and a drizzle of honey
  • Apple with nut butter and a pumpkin muffin (I generally keep my favorite muffins on hand in the freezer; ready to go when I want one)
  • Oatmeal topped with pecans, dried fruit, and almond milk
  • Whole grain toast with peanut butter and sliced banana
  • Sprouted bread, toasted with sliced cheese and cucumbers
  • Over easy egg on a whole wheat English muffin + cherry tomatoes
  • Hummus on whole grain crackers + smoothie

Super super quick (as in I don’t have time to prepare anything and need something I can grab and go or stash in my gym bag)

  • KIND granola bar + low-fat latte
  • 8-oz chocolate milk + banana
  • Greek yogurt + homemade or store-bought granola bar
  • Handful of almonds + apple
  • Glass of vanilla almond milk + nuts & raisins
  • Premade steel cut oats ready to microwave in a glass container + sliced almonds and raisins
  • Peanut butter and chia jam sandwich on whole grain bread
  • Mini morning glory muffins + café au lait
  • Slice of banana bread + peanut butter
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