After an intense workout you want to make sure you make the right food choices so that all your hard work doesn’t go out the window. There are many different elements to a training regime and the foods you eat have a huge role to play. If you aren’t concentrating on what you put into your body then chances are you aren’t seeing any great results from your workouts. However much you lift, however far you run, these numbers will mean absolutely zero if you are filling yourself with rubbish straight afterwards.
At Aflete we know to keep the fridge and cupboards stocked with the right kinds of foods to help our bodies recover from a good gym session, so that we aren’t tempted to grab a mars bar from the corner shop on the way home. Taking a healthy snack with you to the gym is the perfect way to make sure that you don’t give into temptation and therefore get the full benefit of your workout. Here is a list of our favourites.
1. Greek Yoghurt
Probably one you have heard praised before, Greek yoghurt is an excellent whole food. Directly after a workout your body is going to be gasping for a hit of protein and will be in an optimal state to absorb the maximum benefits. As your muscles are broken down their protein levels drop and Greek yoghurt is perfect to boost them up again and aid recovery. Make sure that you read the labels though, as many brands sell ‘Greek style yoghurt’ thickened with corn starch and without the high levels of protein.
Bit of a weird one to have knocking about in your gym bag, but it is worth the strange glances. Avocado is full to the brim with green goodness; packed with creamy monounsaturated fats that are will repair torn muscles and impacted joints. The plant based protein and B vitamins are great for your metabolism, perfect for supplementing all the metabolism-boosting you got from your exercise. If you aren’t a huge fan of the taste avocados are perfect in smoothies as a base instead of bananas because they have a mild taste, but amazing smooth texture.
3. Trail Mix
Trail mix is a dynamic mixture of healthy fats and nutrient-dense foods. Designed to curb hunger and give a burst of energy, consider a good trail mix a healthier version of a snickers. Although shop bought packets can be high in calories and sugar it is one of the easiest snacks to make at home – just be sure to measure out your portions correctly! We have found a really easy recipe here that even uses activated nuts for maximum health benefits. The best part about making your own is that it keeps for weeks in an air-tight container, so it’s pretty much the least effort food prep there is. Photo credit: AgainstAllGrain
4. Bananas and Peanut Butter
Whether you have them on rice cakes, in a smoothie, or just alternating mouthfuls this is a great combination for a post workout snack. Firstly because they taste delicious together, secondly because the high-glycemic carbohydrates in a banana pared with the protein in peanut butter gives you everything you need for rapid recovery. Your energy levels will jump upwards quickly, restoring glycogen to your muscles. Don’t forget to be picky with your peanut butter and choose a natural brand without added oils and sugar so that you aren’t getting any unwelcome extras in your snack.
Eggs are great. Breakfast, lunch, dinner, you name it. Pre-workout, post-workout, you might as well even snack on one between reps. It is the amino acids in eggs that you want because they play an essential role in repairing what you have torn during your workout. Egg whites seem to have been popular in the last few years, but forget what you have heard because those egg yolks should not be discarded so easily. Half the protein and all of the essential omega-3 fatty acids are in that yolk so keep your eggs whole for the full benefits. Hard boil them for a portable snack or hang on until you get home for an omelette or poached on toast.
6. Protein Balls
As portable snacks go protein balls are up there as some of the best. They come in a huge variety of flavours to suit every mood and you can find a recipe for every kind of nutrient boost you need. This one from HonestlyHealthyFood combines dried apricots, cashew nuts and chia seeds, three superfoods that provide a much needed energy source. Omega-3 fatty acids from the chia seeds and protein from the cashews combine to form a tiny snack with a hefty punch of nutrition. Find the recipe here. Photo credit: HonestlyHealthyFood
7. Chocolate Milk
They say when you finish a workout take inspiration from your inner six year old. Grab the chocolate milk and indulge those childish tendencies because there are actually some real benefits to the drink. The winning combination of simple carbohydrates and animal protein are well known for being perfect for a recovery boost, but added fluids also mean you replace water lost in sweat. Chugging chocolate milk can actually be a better choice than water because the carbohydrates give your body something to metabolize. Good news or what?
8. Hummus and Pitta Bread
Hummus and pitta bread are a classic snack combo for any time of the day. The carbohydrates and proteins are easily digestible, meaning they get to work on repairing your muscles without any delay. With all the different flavours available in hummus nowadays you can mix up your recipes to keep it interesting. When choosing your pitta bread try to get the whole-wheat version to retain more of the nutritional value.
9. Protein Bar
Most protein bars are processed rubbish loaded with sugar, but if you make your own versions and fill them with wholefoods then they can be perfect for a post workout snack. ChocolateCoveredKatie has created a chocolate protein bar recipe that uses a secret plant based ingredient alongside protein powder to mean each serving contains over 7g of protein. No weird additives, no extra white sugar and in perfectly portable bar form these snacks are great for the gym bag. Find the recipe here. Photo credit: ChocolateCoveredKatie
10. Protein Shake
And if all else fails turn to your whey. No time, nothing in the kitchen? Grab your protein powder and mix up a shake that will fill you up with quick absorbing proteins. The fluids you mix it with will replace what you have lost during your workout similar to the way that chocolate milk does. Protein shakes are a great shortcut, but try not to rely on them all the time. Have another look through this list for some ways of mixing up your post workout snacks.