What you eat before and after a workout can be the missing link to getting the results you want! It is important to have something before a workout. This can be a mix of carbohydrates, protein and some fat which helps me sustain energy during hard sessions. I typically shoot for 150-200 calories about 30-60 minutes before I train. Each body is different so trial and error will help you quickly decide what sits best. Often I mix a protein shake or green smoothie, drink 1/3 of it on the way to the gym and the rest on the way home. For simplicity, I would like to focus this blog post on POST workout nutrition. Enjoy a few direct links to the acefitness.org website for healthy recipe ideas!
My boys LOVE green smoothies. Ezra, my 1 year old, recently got his first taste and now each time he hears the vitamix start up, he starts clapping. My 3 year old, Easton, BEGS for a "moothie" daily, which gets mildly annoying when I've already made one but way better then fruit snacks. (Which he also begs for) Balance people! And bribery at time. 😉
Here are 7 great post-workout snacks that fuel your body and should be consumed with 8-12 ounces of water:
1. Non–Fat Greek Yogurt with Fruit
Non–fat Greek yogurt is loaded with protein, which helps repair muscle tissue, and low in sugar and fat, which also makes it an ideal snack at any time of the day. Top some with fruit (1/2 cup of berries or banana) and you'll quickly rebuild your energy needs.
2. Banana with 1 Tablespoon of Almond or Nut Butter
Banana is high in fructose (fruit sugar) and a high–glycemic carbohydrate that the body can quickly convert to energy. When you enjoy it with with a small amount (1 tablespoon) of almond butter, you add protein and just a small amount of healthy fat. Almond butter is a great nut in terms of nutritional value, but is also high in calories, so you want to enjoy this treat in small servings. Although there is no hard rule on this, I typically like to keep my post workout snack low fat to maximize absorption of nutrients to the muscles after strength training. This would be a great, quick choice post run or HIIT.
3. Low–Fat Chocolate Milk
Did you know that low–fat chocolate milk is one of the best–kept secrets for recovery? It has just the right protein to carbohydrate ratio to restore lost glycogen and repair muscle tissue. Exercise scientists say this recovery drink is most useful for competing endurance athletes who need to sustain a level of performance—such as long–distance runners, cyclists, swimmers and triathletes. Another plus is that this drink can be easily transported.
4. Tuna on Whole Wheat
If you're a sandwich lover, this one is for you! Adding four ounces of water-packed tuna on one slice of whole wheat bread gives you an ideal protein/carb mini-meal at a mere 220 calories. It's an ideal low-calorie snack for people watching their body weight or trying to shed extra pounds.
5. Frozen Whole Grain Waffles Topped with Greek Yogurt and Almond Butter
If you're a waffle lover and want to enjoy this treat guilt-free, there is no better time to eat this heavenly food than after a solid workout. Top the waffle with low-fat Greek yogurt and one tablespoon of almond butter, and you'll get the ideal ratio of carbs, protein and healthy fat needed for recovery.
6. Whole Wheat English Muffin with Sliced Turkey Breast and Hummus
Like hummus? Eat up! Combined with a whole wheat English muffin or a whole wheat pita, this combo makes for a great protein/carb recovery food. Note: If you're watching your weight, whole wheat will release energy slower into your body than white bread. Wheat bread will also satisfy your hunger longer than the high-caloric fluffy white stuff. Once again, if you're watching calories, ¼ cup of hummus on one whole wheat pita adds up to about 300 calories.
7. Protein Shake with Banana
A protein shake made with 1-2 scoops of whey protein powder and ½ banana is ideal for recovery. I pack a pre-made protein shake into my gym bag so I can have it on the way home after a workout. This is ideal for busy people on the go. Remember that refueling within the 30–minute window after a hard workout is critical to reaping the full benefits of proper recovery.
Tricks to Avoid Overeating Post-Workout
Now that we've talked about some great recovery foods, it's time for a heart-to-heart. Ask yourself if your workout really warrants a recovery snack or meal?
A 15–minute leisurely walk, a 30–minute light strength-training session or 30 minutes of stretching are not the moderate– to high–intensity workouts that burn up your muscles and deplete your blood sugar levels to a level where you need a snack to recover. That doesn't mean you shouldn't enjoy a portioned healthy post work-out snack at all.
It's best to be mindful of calories burned during a workout vs. calories consumed during the day, and to find a healthy balance of calories in vs. calories out to maintain a healthy body weight.
Here are 3 clues to help you prevent overeating after a workout:
1 Did you break a sweat during your workout? If you had a short and light workout session and your skin remains fairly dry, it's good to rehydrate with water, but not necessary to recover with food or a sugary beverage.
2 Was your heart rate elevated? Exercising at a low–intensity rate for a short period of time certainly is better than no exercise at all, but you won't deplete your glycogen stores or tear up muscle tissue during a low–intensity workout.
3 Was your breathing labored? A 60–minute moderate–intensity spin class, dance class or power yoga class can elevate your heart rate and leave you breathing hard at times, which means you're burning calories and earning the health benefits. Enjoy your post–workout healthy snack, but count it toward your total daily caloric intake, not as a way to justify a recovery meal.
If you're truthful on how hard you work during exercise, you'll get to know your body and learn how to refuel for energy vs. eat out of habit, convenience or due to stress, boredom or other reasons.
Your workout can never make up for a
Eating a healthy diet, paying attention to portion sizes and engaging in regular exercise are all critical elements to maintaining a healthy body weight, achieving a well balanced lifestyle and preventing serious diseases such as obesity, type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure and cancer.
If you're exercising hard for 90 minutes or longer, it makes sense to prepare your recovery snack in advance. When on the go, I almost always have a protein shake in a cool storage place, so I can enjoy it right after a workout.
So the only question remaining is, what's your favorite post–workout snack? Leave me a comment, I want to know! 🙂
References: ACE fitness FitBitsRead More