Eating right is important any time of day, but especially after a vigorous
workout when your body needs to recover. After all, if you've spent
an hour sweating through spin class, you don't want to ruin all that
effort by eating junk--or not eating at all until your next meal. Your
body needs replenishment, and not just any food will do.
Aim for a combo of protein (to help strengthen muscle tissue) and carbs
(which restore the body's supply of workout fuel known as glycogen--it's
the substance that gives you the energy to power through that last set
of burpees). Snacks should be eaten within 30 minutes after a workout
and should total 150 to 200 calories. (And don't forget to hydrate
with at least one 8- to 12-ounce glass of water.)
Here are five ideas for snacks to savor after some serious exercising:
Yogurt and fruit. You get the carbs you need from the naturally occurring sugar in the fruit
(think berries or citrus slices), so sweetened yogurt would be overkill.
Opt for the
Protein smoothie. A scoop of protein powder gives you a boost. Combine nondairy milk, greens
such as spinach and fruit with some ice; if your smoothie goes over the
200-calorie limit, drink half before your workout and save the rest for after.
Nut butter and toast. One slice of whole-grain bread with your favorite nut butter is all you
need for a well-rounded snack. Just go easy on the nut butter, as it can
be high in calories.
Trail mix. It's the perfect marriage of protein-packed nuts and carb-rich dried
fruits (skip the mixes with candy). Plus, it's easy to eat on the
go on your way home from the gym. Again, serving size is key as the calories
can add up.
Chocolate milk. Feeling crunched for time after a workout? Grab a small container of
chocolate milk--the sugars from the flavoring and the protein from the
milk make for the ideal carb-to-protein ratio. Look for low-fat milks,
and a serving size of about 8 to 10 ounces.
This information is not intended as a substitute for professional medical
care. Always follow your healthcare professional's instructions.