After giving you a load of tips that I’ve found help me and have helped others I thought writing a list of post workout foods would be a good idea. We all know that it’s good to eat after a workout to replenish your glycogen stores, help prevent muscle breakdown and recover faster. The best time to eat is within 30 minutes of finishing a workout so it can be hard to have something with you if you’re on the go or even just finding an appropriate snack. (source)
Most days I drive straight to the gym from work (otherwise once I’m home I won’t leave the house again!) so when I finish my workout I most often have a protein shake – when I have really gone for it – and then I eat my tea.
On the weekends however I normally go in the mornings and so need a snack to keep me going until my next meal. It’s hard to choose what to eat to keep you going so I’ve listed some of the best foods you should eat after a workout for optimum nourishment and minimum fat gain:
1) Milk – The easiest thing you can have is a glass of milk. It’s liquid so is easily digested and contains protein and fats that your body needs for recovery. Not only this is an easy and cheap snack it’s also easily taken with you and if not, bought from a local shop. Perfect! Stick with full fat though, although the fat is higher it hasn’t had as many chemical processes performed on it and is actually better for you.
2) Greek Yogurt – Greek yogurt has double the amount of protein of normal yogurt so is a great food to snack on, and mixed with fruit such as berries and a handful of nuts its a great way of getting in some vitamins and good fats to your day. It’s also got enough carbs to keep you going.
3) Wholewheat wraps – If you really are hungry after your workout and not near a meal time your best bet is to have a wholemeal wrap, cook up some eggs and veggies and make a wrap, otherwise prepare them the night before and you can easily take them with you. Chicken, fish and feta cheese are all good sources of protein that can be put into a wrap with veggies and some other carbs such as quinoa, rice or beans and you’ll be sorted.
4) Peanut Butter – One of my favourite foods! Spreading this onto some rye bread or rice crackers will help to stave off any cravings. Eating this with an apple or banana will also make a great snack and I’ve seen many pictures where other people have stuck 2 piece of fruit together using the PB to make a mini sandwich. Otherwise just a spoon or two straight out of the tub should see you right!
5) Quinoa – the superfood that contains a lot of protein but acts like a grain. Fills you up without filling you out, and can substitute so many other carbs such as oats, pasta and rice. I’ve had this for breakfast with almond milk, yogurt and fruit, as well as in salad to replace pasta and in wraps to provide some stodge to fill me up. It’s a winner!
6) Smoothies – if you have the chance to make a smoothie than you’re on to a winner all around. You can add in some oats or quinoa to thicken it up, whatever fruit you like for flavour and vitamins and yogurt and/or some protein powder to help rebuild your muscles. Using a smoothie maker would make this so easy and would be something I’d love to try more regularly! I’d even add in some peanut butter or chia seeds too for some extra protein and good fats.
7) Dried fruit and nut – I’ve made my own mix that I take to work with me and keep in a drawer for snacking on when things get a bit too hectic and the hunger just won’t go away. Dried cranberries are my favourite and as for the nuts I just mix up any I can find to keep a good variety and also add in pumpkin and sunflower seeds too. This kind of snack is easily carried around in your handbag.
8) Protein shake – I tend to only have these when I know I won’t be eating any actual protein any time soon. I personally think that eating chicken or fish is a much better option but sometimes life doesn’t allow it! In this case I have a shake and I mix it with water, mainly to keep calories down but mixing with milk can give a better protein complex if you’re not worried about calories. The protein that I have is just a normal chocolate flavour protein with 80% whey protein per scoop. I wouldn’t bother with diet protein powders as although they may have less fat per scoop, you often need 2 scoops for the same amount of protein, cost more, and contains up to 10x the amount of sugar that a normal protein powder contains, pointless right??
Another tip I was told by my personal trainer, as long as you consume a snack or meal that has equal parts carbs and protein then you will be sufficiently supplying your body with fuel after a workout. If you choose carbs only then you will cause your insulin to spike and then leads to a crash afterwards where you’ll be reaching for more sugar to overcome it.
I’m on a personal quest this year to eat cleaner myself. I need to work on my snacks, and also wean myself off things so that they are just a treat. I’ve weaned myself off honey on my breakfast and now I need to reduce the amount of peanut butter I consume! It’s a favourite snack but it’s getting a little out of control oops!
What do you snack on post workout? Do you need to wean yourself off certain foods like I do?