Physical Activity: The Best Post-Workout Foods

Providing your body with nutrient-dense calories is an important part of maintaining energy for exercise. But can your post-workout snack choices actually help you get more benefit from your workout?

Yes, what you eat post-workout (and what foods you eat the rest of the day) definitely affects how your body responds to physical activity and what it can do.

Think of your body as a racing car. When this car hurtles down a track, it takes a lot of fuel to keep going. Similarly, our body burns carbs and fat during exercise, so post-workout refueling efforts are important to refuel.

For most people who don’t exercise or overtrain, adequate nutrition is more important than what you eat when it comes to exercise. The most important thing for recreational athletes is to eat protein throughout the day, eat enough protein, and eat enough carbohydrates. That means you need to consume enough calories to fuel your workout. Not consuming enough calories can stunt muscle growth or leave you with insufficient energy to push yourself to your maximum physical output.

Be sure to meet your protein needs. Protein makes muscles grow and get stronger. Eat enough after training and throughout the day. People who exercise regularly should consume between 1.1 and 1.7 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight per day, depending on the amount and type of exercise.

When snacking after a workout rather than a full meal, favor a combination of carbohydrates and protein to replenish energy stores and provide the sustained energy your body needs to repair muscles. Waiting until your next meal can lead to lethargy and lightheadedness after a longer or more intense workout, says Boateng.

Finally, don’t forget to stay hydrated with water. Not only is it important for restoring fluids lost through sweating, but it also helps restore blood volume. Exercise can cause dehydration (through sweat) and therefore a drop in blood volume. When we don’t replenish, less oxygen and sugar can get to the brain and other organs, leading to dizziness, fatigue, and more.

Post workout snack ideas

These snack ideas provide the right combination of protein and carbs for your post-workout needs:

1. Crackers and canned tuna

Or try another canned fish. This combination contains carbohydrates, protein and sodium, which often need to be replenished after a workout. Opt for whole grain crackers for even more nutritional value.

2. Berries and Plain Greek Yogurt

Greek yogurt is packed with proteins that help the body recover, repair, and rebuild. Calcium found in yogurt contributes to muscle growth. The berries naturally sweeten the yogurt and add just enough carbs to the mix.

3. Fruit smoothie

A mix of frozen strawberries, blueberries, bananas, cinnamon, and yogurt offers the same benefits as berries and yogurt, with the added potassium boost (thanks to bananas). Potassium is lost with sweat and needs to be replaced.

4. Hard boiled eggs with whole wheat or sourdough toast

Eggs are high in protein but low in calories. Whole grains provide the necessary macronutrient carbohydrates. They’re also packed with essential nutrients like fiber, B vitamins, and minerals that help with recovery.

5. Turkey slices with cheese and apple slices

This nutritious snack features lean protein (the turkey), more protein from the cheese, and nutrient-dense carbohydrates. These are all important parts of the refueling process.

6. Protein Bar

A protein bar can be great for bulking up, but aim for a bar with at least 10-12g of protein. And check the sugar content, look for bars with 4g or less added sugar.

7. Toasted whole wheat bread with nut or seed butter and naturally sweet preserves

Wholemeal bread provides carbohydrates rich in fiber, vitamins and minerals. Top it with a nut or seed butter, like peanut butter, almond butter, or sunflower seed butter. Nut and seed butters are a snack that’s high in energy, protein, and healthy fats. Natural canned sugar easily converts to glucose, which needs to be refilled often after a workout to avoid feeling like you’re running out of fuel.

8. Hummus with seed crackers and raw veggies

This snack will fill you up on carbs and sodium. Don’t settle for carrot sticks.

9. Fruit and nut butters

Spread apple or banana slices with almond butter. This combination provides healthy fats and nutrient-dense carbohydrates.

* Presse Santé strives to convey health knowledge in a language accessible to all. In NO CASE can the information given replace the advice of a doctor.

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