Fuelling up before a workout is definitely important, but so is what you eat after you’ve done exercise. Snacking on the right food after exercising helps your muscles to recover and replenishes their glycogen stores to give you energy. However, the key words here are ‘the right food’. Going to the gym for an hour and then eating a big slice of cake straight after probably won’t help you to be any healthier, and plenty of us are guilty of overestimating how many calories we burn from a workout. Research from 2013 found that people might not always be aware of how much exercise is needed to burn off various fattening snacks – for example, a man would have to jog for around half an hour to burn off a regular Mars bar.
When you’re trying to find post-workout snacks, it can seem pricey to fill up and stay healthy after exercise. However, this doesn’t have to be the case, as we’ve put together some tasty and nutritious snacks for you to have after a workout that won’t cost you a fortune. Remember that the best way to stay healthy is by eating a balanced diet, so these snacks should only be included as part of a rounded meal plan.
For if you’re bulking up – if you’re trying to build your muscles, it’s important to focus on your macros: the amount of fat, carbs, and protein you eat in a day. But just swigging a whey protein shake after every session isn’t very healthy or fulfilling. Eggs are a great way to get protein, so whipping up a quick omelette with spinach is a good post-workout snack. If you’re craving sugar, don’t be tempted to snack on a chocolate bar, as this will only give you a sugar crash later on in the day. Banana chips are a healthy alternative, and they’re packed with potassium, which is ideal for giving your muscles energy. You can make banana chips by slicing some bananas up into thin circles, drizzling with lemon juice and baking them at 100°C for two hours.
For if you’re slimming down – when you’re trying to get in shape, it’s still important for you to feed your muscles with protein and carbs; just keep your snacks low-calorie. Houmous is a good choice for keeping your energy up after exercise: make this into a snack by slicing carrot or peppers and eating with a few tablespoons of houmous. Pumpkin seeds can also give you energy without being too high in calories – try snacking on a handful after exercise.
For early morning exercise – going for a jog in the morning before work is a good way to stay fit, but you might not be able to stomach healthy vegetable snacks an hour or so after you’ve got out of bed. As we’ve already mentioned, eggs are a winner after a workout, along with a bagel for a quick early morning snack. Greek yogurt is another good choice for eating first thing as it’s low in calories but high in protein, along with a few cherries or blueberries if they’re on sale at the supermarket.
For lunch time – if you go for a workout during your lunch break, it’s important to get some energy after this to get you through the rest of the day. A tuna sandwich on wholemeal bread gives you protein and carbs, as well as providing you with omega-3 for promoting muscle recovery. For a vegetarian option, a small cup of brown rice – or quinoa, if you can afford it – with some kidney beans and a soft-boiled egg will provide you with energy and fibre and help to beat the 3pm slump.
For the evening – if the only time that you get to schedule in your exercise fix is in the evening, you should steer clear of sugary food, as this can make it harder for you to get to sleep. A couple of slices of wholemeal toast with peanut butter or cheese spread will help you to refuel after your workout, but you’ll also be able to digest it quickly, meaning you won’t be kept up all night.