Binge eating on junk after a tough workout is OH-so satisfying... until it switches to nausea and regret (goddamit). While it might seem deserved at the time, the truth is that you cannot live a fully healthy life without fueling (and re-fueling) your body properly.
So we chatted with personal trainer, race coach, and creator of the HIIT IT! workout, Daphnie Yang to find out what foods to eat after a workout. And yes, it turns out that hot fudge sundae is not the best choice for your post-workout snack, who knew? Instead, Daphnie suggests we opt for something with a bit more nutritional street cred.
"People always underestimating the power of protein!" she says. "It's critical to get protein in after a workout, whether it's cardio or strength training, to help muscles repair and rebuild and to keep your metabolism up. All of these contain protein, healthy carbs, fiber and are low in calories! Some are sweet, some are savory, all are delicious!" she says.
So with Daphnie's help, here are seven delicious snacks to eat after your workout.
1. Egg and Avocado
Believe it or not, avocado has purposes other than being enjoyed in a hefty helping of guacamole alongside a frosty margarita. (We were surprised, too.) Daphnie says that because avocados contain monounsaturated fats they're great for helping muscle recovery. When combined with something rich in protein, like scrambled eggs or baked in avocados, you have an easy and effective way to refuel your body.
"The whole grain toast contains carbohydrates which are critical to ingest post workout," Daphnie says. "Your body uses glycogen for energy during a workout. If you don't replace the burned glycogen immediately after your training session with carbohydrates, you are missing out on your chance to increase lean muscle growth and enhance muscle recovery and recuperation."
If you're refueling over breakfast, this is a fast, easy and delicious option which does wonders for your body.
2. Greek Yogurt and Granola
We doubt you automatically reach for a tub of yogurt after your yoga sesh, but Daphnie says that Greek yogurt's potential for a post-workout boost shouldn't be underestimated.
"Greek yogurt not only contains probiotics, which are critical for digestive health, but also contains 17 grams of protein per serving," Daphnie tells us. "Protein is critical in helping muscles repair after a workout."
Daphnie suggests one cup of Greek yogurt topped with a sprinkling of granola, a drizzle of honey, and some fresh berries as the perfect all round snack.
"Granola adds fiber to your yogurt and granola may help lower your cholesterol and prevent certain chronic diseases, such as heart disease and cancer. Berries provide some added vitamins and fiber", she explains.
3. Banana and Peanut Butter
"Some things were put on this earth to be together," Daphnie says. "Mainly peanut butter and bananas."
She's gushing for a reason. "Peanut butter and banana provides healthy unsaturated fats, protein and carbs. The protein in the peanut butter help muscles repair and rebuild after a workout, while the carbs replenish your depleted glycogen stores," she says.
Daphnie likes PB&B on whole wheat toast with a drizzle of honey as you're giving your body a whole range of benefits in one small helping.
4. Apple and Cheddar
Any post-workout snack that includes cheese is okay by us. So we especially dig Daphnie's suggestion for a quick and easy snack of apple and cheese.
"A juicy apple is sweet and loaded with fiber and antioxidants. Sharp cheddar is chock full of protein to aid in muscle repair and recovery. It's the ultimate snack combo," Daphnie says.
5. Crackers and Nut Butter
Yes, peanut butter tastes ah-mazing but it isn't the only nut butter out there, nor is it actually the healthiest. Daphnie recommends almond butter as an alternative as it has slightly less saturated fat than peanut butter and a bigger heaping of vitamins and minerals. What's not to love?
"Whole wheat crackers contain carbohydrates and fiber to replenish glycogen stores and to promote digestive regularity," Daphnie explains. "Almond butter contains not only protein to aid in muscle repair and recovery, but antioxidants and monounsaturated fats, which are the type of fats that reduce levels of cholesterol and decrease the risk of heart ailments."
6. Healthy Egg Salad and Whole Wheat Pita
If you want something a little more filling than just nut butter and crackers then try whipping up some of Daphnie's healthy egg salad at home instead of buying the prepackaged stuff.
Daphnie says: "Take two hard boiled eggs and smash them with some Greek yogurt, chopped scallions, a tablespoon of mustard, and salt and pepper to taste. Spread onto whole wheat crackers or pita.
"Eggs contain 6 grams of protein each, pair that with the 17 grams of protein per serving of Greek yogurt and you've got a protein powerhouse! The protein will aid in muscle recovery, rebuilding and recuperation and the whole grain toast contains heart healthy carbohydrates to replenish your glycogen stores."
7. Trail Mix
Guess what? You CAN have chocolate right after a workout! While a bee-lining for a big brownie after your spin class may not be the best idea, everything is okay in moderation, and chocolate actually does have notable health benefits!
Daphnie suggests a moderately healthy way of eating chocolate after your workout is by making a homemade trail mix. (It's easier than you think - we promise.)
"Combine walnuts, dark chocolate chips, and dried cherries. Walnuts contain protein and heart-healthy fats while dark chocolate chips and cherries contain antioxidants and glucose to replenish your depleted glycogen stores. Have a handful or two after a workout!" she explains.
Sounds good to us!
What's your favorite thing to chow on after an intense workout? Tweet us @wewomenUSA!
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