It’s not necessary to turn to “miracle” powdered products for nutrients after a strenuous workout, especially when you want something more substantial than a smoothie or shake. In fact, there are plenty of snacks that help your muscles bounce back from workout stress, while also replacing lost nutrients — all without adding excess fat and calories. In addition, these familiar snacks are easy to put together, and relatively inexpensive.
Snacks Should have Basic Nutritional Components
Your snacks certainly don’t have to be complicated to qualify for a recovery meal, but they do have to have some basic nutritional components. Protein is the crucial ingredient that keeps the tiny cracks in your muscles, which temporarily appear during muscular exertion, from turning into larger, serious tears. In addition, you’ll want to restore a healthy blood sugar level, without resorting to empty carbs.
Snacks vs. Meals
It’s also important that these meals be either portable or quickly made, so that you can begin replenishing those lost nutrients as soon as possible. That’s why snacks are ideal. Even if it isn’t mealtime when you get out of the gym, a light snack with get you the “recovery” that you need. If you’re watching your weight, these meals are also light enough to not add more calories than you’ve just burned.
Satisfying Recovery Snacks
Fortunately, some of the best food combinations to help your body restore itself after your workout are probably already in your kitchen cabinet. Among the best are:
Healthy trail mix
Blending nuts and dried fruits yourself is ideal, in order to achieve the ideal balance of protein and complex carbs.
Use a nut or seed butter (such as peanut, almond or sunflower seed) combined with apple and pear wedges for dipping.
Keep the mayo content in your sandwich low or nonexistent (avocado is a great substitute), and make sure to use a whole-grain bread. If you like, include red pepper strips, celery chunks or thinly sliced pears.
If you’re a protein powder fanatic but tired of smoothies, fear not. Plain popcorn is a great complex carb on which you can sprinkle the powder of your choice. Many whey-based types are naturally cheesy, but other flavors are available, from savory to sweet.
Greek Yogurt with fresh fruit
Greek yogurt is especially protein-rich, and pairs beautifully with berries and a drizzle of local honey.
Whole grain toast or waffles with peanut butter
Craving something warm? Pop one or two multigrain bread slices or frozen waffles into the toaster, then smear with the nut butter of your choice.
Cheese and citrus
Low-fat string cheese sticks, along with some orange slices, make the perfect combination of protein and healthy carbs.
Egg and crackers
Hardboiled eggs are the ultimate portable protein snack. Round one out with a few whole grain crackers.