One of the most common mistakes those new to fitness make is not fueling up before—and after—a good workout. Post-lift, the human body continues to burn off stored energy until you fully cool down, a process that competes with your muscles’ attempt to rebuild themselves from the same pool of nutrients. Here are some of our favourite post-workout snacks that give you a shot of energy to replace what you lost, plus protein to repair your body and put on muscle mass.
Once you’re done exercising, you’re missing protein badly. A liquid meal is more easily (and quickly) digested than a solid one, which is key because your body has a specific window of absorption—about 45 minutes—within which it puts the protein to good use repairing your muscles. A protein shake is one of the perfect solutions in that regard, and will give you a quick boost of energy and help kickstart your recovery.
Whether you opt for something like a simple banana or an apple, these fruit are perfect recovery options. The high-carb content in bananas and apples are exactly what you need after a rough workout to replace spent energy, while the sugar will give you a quick energy boost that will keep you thinking and seeing straight right away if you are a bit lightheaded from a diminished blood sugar content. However, you will need to add some kind of protein to help aid in your recovery, as fruit won’t provide it—a cup of almonds is a great option to mix some in, as well as healthy fats.
Cereal and yogurt
This is our favourite, especially after AM workouts. Pick up a high-fibre, low-fat, no-sugar cereal like oatmeal or any one of many varieties of muesli. The carbs will help your body recover from a workout, and replenish the energy burned up by your muscles while you were blasting your quads. Best of all, if you have this as your breakfast after a wake-up workout, the slow release of the energy in these carbs will keep you going at least until lunch.
Hummus and pita
A simple protein-and-carb combo, hummus with a pita is fantastic for two reasons—it requires an absolute minimum of effort on your part and offers a ton of flavour. It’s a well-balanced meal with everything you need for those days when you’ve hit the gym extra hard, and you don’t have the time to pack a complex snack beforehand.
Whole wheat PB&J
We admit, the prospect of making yourself a sandwich after a long workout is daunting, but the rewards are massive. The satisfaction of biting into a great PB&J is immeasurable, and a nicely-made sandwich packs a good punch of protein, simple carbs and complex carbs. There’s a reason basketball players make them their favourite pre- and post-game meal.