The rule of thumb on post-exercise nutrition is to eat something within 30 minutes of working out. A combo of complex carbs and protein helps to restore lost glycogen and repair the muscle damage that occurs during exercise. We know this, and yet sitting down to a complete post-workout meal can be challenging when balancing a busy life.
If you don’t have time for a full meal, a post-workout snack can help you avoid fatigue and low blood sugar as well as kick-start your recovery. Here are five post-workout snack ideas that go beyond protein bars:
Starchy vegetables like sweet potatoes are great after a workout because they’re nutritionally dense and full of antioxidants. You can do it baked-potato style, or try making a batch of bite-sized cubes that you can keep in the fridge. They taste great cold! Just chop up a few sweet potatoes into cubes, mix them with a light dose of olive or coconut oil, and bake or roast them for 45 minutes to an hour.
Especially if your workouts involve weight lifting, you need protein to help repair the muscular micro-tears that happen during exercise. Hard-boiled eggs are an affordable, easy-to-prepare, no-utensils-required snack that packs a powerful protein punch.
Banana with Nut Butter
Banana on peanut butter toast is a classic combo, but you may not have time to make toast—or maybe you want to avoid the added calories or carbs. A banana alone with peanut (or almond) butter is a complete post-workout snack. You can either dip the banana in the nut butter or spoon it on. To avoid overdoing it, measure roughly a tablespoon onto a plate and put away the jar. If banana’s not your thing, try it with apple.
Find your favorite fruits, veggies, nuts, seeds, water, and whatever else you like, toss them in a blender and go. The beauty of smoothies is the variety. There are endless combinations that taste great and give you the nutrients and hydration you need after exercise. Here’s one, Anti-inflammatory Ginger and Citrus Smoothie, to get you started.
There’s a reason chickpeas show up in so many healthy recipes. They’re full of complex carbs and protein, along with lots of vitamins and minerals. As luck would have it, they’re also affordable and easy to make. Just drain the can of chickpeas and let them dry out on a dishtowel. Once dry, mix them with a light dose of olive or coconut oil, spread them on a cookie sheet, and bake for 30 to 45 minutes. They’re good cold, so you can store a batch in the fridge for an easily poppable post-workout snack.