What is a good post-workout snack?

5 snacks to help you recover from exercise

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S.A.C. Dip (Diet, Exercise & Fitness), Advanced Human Anatomy & Physiology Level 3
Ask Louise

18 June 2021

What is a good post-workout snack?

A good post-workout snack should provide carbohydrates and protein; plus, it should replace lost electrolytes. Therefore, a good post-workout snack could be energy balls with nuts and seeds, wholemeal bread, a homemade smoothie, a homemade cereal bar, or some fresh fruit.

5 post-workout snacks

What you eat after exercise will be key in helping your body recover from the activity. Also, your next exercise performance may be negatively affected if you don't eat well after an activity.

If you have participated in a short workout of one hour or less, then a snack is an ideal way to help your body adapt and repair. However, if you have been working a little longer, you may want to move straight on to a meal. Some of the best snacks to eat post-workout are outlined below.

1. Cinnamon and Chia Seed Energy Balls

During high intensity or prolonged exercise, including strength work or aerobic endurance activities, muscle protein is broken down. Therefore, after exercise, it is important to consume some protein-rich foods. Not only does this help with the recovery and repair of the muscles, but it also ensures the body gets enough protein to improve muscle mass and strength in the long run. You see, essential amino acids that are found in good quality protein sources have been shown to help with the muscle-building process.

Our Cinnamon and Chia Seed Energy Balls provide a natural source of protein due to the inclusion of some healthy nuts like almonds, plus some sunflower seeds. This tasty little snack is also a really good source of energy but, crucially, this is the long-lasting type that you will need after a workout, rather than an intense but short lift in energy levels that some foods, such as a chocolate bar, provide. This is due to the high protein, good fats and fibre content of these energy balls.

Top tip: Although snacks are really important to support the body after exercise, we also need to ensure we are consuming enough water at this time too. We lose fluids through sweat when we exercise and so these need to be replaced to avoid dehydration.

2. Wholemeal bread or toast

Glycogen provides energy for muscular movement. It is produced by the body from glucose by the process of either aerobic respiration or anaerobic respiration. During exercise, glycogen sources are used up and so they need to be replaced afterward.

Carbohydrates help to replenish glycogen stores when consumed straight after a workout. This will help to fuel working muscles and sustain energy levels.

There are lots of healthy ways to get carbohydrates, as they are present in things like brown rice and quinoa. However, if it's a post-workout snack you are after, then some wholemeal bread is a good option. You could top it with the likes of avocado or some nut butter for an added nutrient and energy boost.

3. Smoothie

The body loses lots of vital electrolytes through sweat during exercise, and these too need to be replaced. One way to do this is through a post-workout drink – the healthy kind!

Balance Mineral Drink is a strawberry-flavoured post-workout drink containing magnesium, vitamin D, potassium, calcium and zinc to help replenish electrolytes. You could also make your own smoothie, if that takes your fancy, as the range of fruit and vegetables you can pack in here has the potential to boost vitamin and mineral intake. Alternatively, why not combine the two by popping one Balance Mineral Drink sachet into your favourite smoothie recipe?

A homemade smoothie tends to contain a little less sugar than the pre-packaged type because it will only contain fresh ingredients. Still, it is recommended that we eat food like toast alongside a smoothie to lessen any damage to the teeth.

Some good post-workout smoothie options include an Apple & Spinach Smoothie or a Banana & Kiwi Smoothie. Plus, you can check out our recipe hub for more ideas!

4. Homemade cereal bars

Many people will turn to a cereal bar for a quick snack post-workout, but the pre-packaged type can hold a lot of sugar and added ingredients that aren't really going to offer many benefits for the body. So, if you have the time, a homemade cereal bar is a healthier alternative.

Here you can pack in protein and carbohydrate-rich ingredients that we need after exercise, such as nuts and seeds, plus there's the option of popping in some fruit, oats and natural sugars like honey too.

Our Muesli & Peanut Butter Bars are perfect to snack on after exercise as they are rich in protein, plus they can support energy levels that may be feeling sluggish after a hard workout.

5. Fruit

There's plenty of reason to eat fruit after a workout. Banana, for one, is a good way to replenish glycogen stores and it will help top up lost electrolytes too. Other good fruits to eat after a workout include berries, kiwi and pineapple which are all good sources of carbohydrates to support recovery.

Plus, we need real food (not sports drinks or pre-packaged energy bars) in order to get proper nutrients post-workout, and fruit can help achieve this.

A.Vogel Nutritionist Emma Thornton has put together a recipe for Baked Spiced Pineapple with Cinnamon Yoghurt which you can follow below. This is super simple to whip up after you've been out exercising.

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