(Photo courtesy of Kai Jerke via Unsplash.com.)
When you work out, your muscles use up your body’s stored sugar and carbohydrate reserves in order to create the energy to perform at its best capacity. Your body also sweats out salts and other minerals, so by the time you are done with your workout, not only are your energy stores empty, but your body is depleted of necessary minerals as well as the proteins and other nutrients it needs to rebuild the muscles that got used.
While eating after a workout is important in and of itself, it is also important to eat the right foods within the right time frame. Here are my favorite food combinations that should be consumed 15 minutes to two hours after a sweat sesh.
1. Apples and Peanut Butter
This food combo is a fantastic way to replenish your stores of energy. The mix of carbs, protein and simple sugars will refill your losses in all the important areas. I like to eat two apples, usually because I feel like one apple isn’t enough if I worked out pretty hard.
2. Veggie Omelet
If I work out in the morning, I will maybe eat an orange or a banana before, which means that by the time I am done, I am super hungry and ready to eat. Mixing the protein from eggs with the carbs and electrolytes that come from the veggies always makes me feel really full and satisfied after. I usually like to drink a cup of orange juice or tea with honey to get some sugars in as well.
3. Fresh Fruit Smoothie
This is by far one of my favorite post-workout snacks because not only is it insanely healthy (if you do it right), but I can sip on it while I am trying to get ready for the rest of my day. Smoothies are just so easy and versatile. The smoothies I make usually include a bit of vegan protein powder, some frozen berries, a handful of spinach (you can’t even taste it), almond milk and a banana. Everything about the smoothie is wonderful. Depending on how hungry I am I will also eat some toast with peanut butter along side it.
4. Healthy Tuna Salad and Whole Wheat Crackers
Tuna salads, in theory, would be a great source of food to eat after a workout because of the carbs from the crackers and the protein from the tuna. However, usually tuna salads are full of unnecessary fats and salt so they aren’t too great for you. A healthier version is to make your own. Mix one single serving of wild-caught tuna with a couple teaspoons of plain Greek yogurt, chopped-up pickles, grapes, onion, celery and pepper to taste. Eat some whole wheat crackers with it and — boom — a perfect healthy snack.
Regardless of what you choose to eat after a workout, just make sure you are getting at least a few hundred calories of healthy proteins and carbs. When your body is in recovery mode, it is the one of the most important times to make sure you are refueling with the right energy sources.
Collegian Blogger Katy Mueller can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @KatyMueller13.