You’ve been at the gym for almost an hour. Not only are you trying to motivate yourself to finish your workout strong, but you’re also worried about making the most of your efforts. There’s a lot that goes into physical health, but proper nutrition is right up there toward the top of the list. After a tough round of physical activity, your body begins to crave two things: protein and carbohydrates. Healthy snacks that incorporate this nutrient mix work to refuel tired muscles and prime them for the next sweat session.
Getting to the gym, or even making time for exercise can often be the hardest part about leading a healthy lifestyle. You’re busy with work, busy with family, busy with life in general – the last thing you need is to worry about is navigating the supermarket aisles in search for proper nutrition. To help take the rest a little easier for you, here are some delicious, on-the-go ideas for post-workout snacks you can throw right in your gym bag.
Not only is this an obvious first choice since it’s easy and portable, but it’s also something that you probably already have on hand. Bananas are an excellent snack to have after a workout because they contain large amounts of potassium, an electrolyte lost while sweating. They also are a great form of a fast-acting carbohydrate. While some of you may think these are bad carbs, they can actually be quite beneficial here. Fast carbs can be your friend because they hit the bloodstream quickly and help restore the glycogen stores in your muscles. This starts the repair process and reduces soreness.
Throw it in your shaker bottle, toss it in a gym bag—it’s as easy as that. There are so many options with these that you could almost have a different one for every day of the year. The benefit here is that all of your post-workout nutrition is in a liquid, meaning it requires less effort to digest and your body can absorb nutrients faster. Try out this recipe for a super easy, super delicious smoothie that’s protein-packed and ready to get you recovered.
Another perfect snack if you’re crunched for time, dried fruit and nuts are a perfect combination because of the amount of essential, post-workout nutrients. Nuts are a go-to because of the added protein and healthy fats, while dried fruits have the fast carbs covered. Aim for a blend of various nuts, raisins, dried blueberries, seeds, and you’ll be good to go.
Lean protein courses can be found in so many different foods, and this is a great example. Not only will jerky provide a ton of protein to build muscle (just 1 ounce has 10 grams of protein), but it also contains amino acids which help repair the small muscle tears which are a result of intense, prolonged exercise. The salt content in jerky is beneficial as well. Since salt helps our bodies retain water, this works to ward off dehydration.
Non-Fat Greek Yogurt
With more than 20 grams of protein in 1 cup, this is a post-workout staple. If you haven’t jumped on the Greek yogurt bandwagon, climb aboard. Plain Greek yogurt is incredibly versatile (you can use it in everything from smoothies and parfaits, to sauces and baking) so it can satisfy anyone’s taste buds. Make sure that the variety you’re choosing is natural and doesn’t contain any artificial sweeteners. The plain variety of Chobani is a great option. Afterall, it’s good enough for Olympians!
Eggs are another great source of lean protein that most of you probably already have in your refrigerator. You can boil a large batch at the beginning of the week and throw them in a bag as you’re on the way out the door. Eggs are a fast-digesting form of protein, so having them within 30 minutes of finishing your workout will make sure you refueling properly. They also contain vitamin D which promotes calcium absorption. Stronger bones, stronger you!
This childhood favorite is making a comeback in the fitness community, and it’s for good reason. Chocolate milk is essentially everything you need in a glass. It’s quickly absorbed by the body, contains adequate amounts of protein and carbohydrates, and the water content helps to rehydrate. For an extra boost of healthiness, try making your own chocolate syrup to mix in at home.
Try some of these healthy, post-workout snack ideas for yourself and you’ll be feeling refueled and recovered in no time. If you’re training for a marathon, or participating in a quick community 5K, proper nutrition is what will help you accomplish your goals and allow you to set the bar even higher next time.