August 28, 2015 by Dr. Sana Keller
So you just finished a great workout–good for you!! The list of life-giving, energy-boosting and anti-aging benefits of regular exercise (AKA workouts) continues to grow, so seriously, pat yourself on the back!
Quick Question for You
As your post-workout feel-good/high endorphin feelings begin to be replaced with hunger pangs, what do you reach for? What is in your workout bag…your fridge…your car…to tide you over to your next meal?
If your workout bag only has your change of clothes and deodorant–and your fridge is filled with nacho cheese dip, ketchup and pizza–and your car is well-stocked with your favorite red licorice and cheese crackers, those great workout benefits could easily be sabotaged by your available snacks. 😦
Your body needs “refueling” after a workout, yet this critical piece is often forgotten until the hunger pangs are screaming inside your head for FOOD NOW! And…that’s when less than healthy choices are made…Darn!
Just because we lead busy lives doesn’t mean that we can’t make healthy post-workout snack choices. The key is planning ahead so that your ‘go to’ snack is within easy reach after your workout. If you go to a gym, make packing a healthy snack part of your gym bag prep routine each day. If you go on a run from your home or workout at home with a DVD or exercise equipment, make sure your snack is ready to go before you start your workout. Plan ahead for success.
As if any of us have time to run to the store daily to pick up a workout snack, right?? Here’s the secret: Keep a list of your favorite healthy snacks as part your grocery list so that you maintain a regular supply–and then strategically place them in the most convenient places for you to grab after your workout–your purse, gym bag, the most accessible shelf of your fridge or pantry, or glove compartment of your car (hidden so others won’t eat!)–you decide the best place for you.
Wait…What is a Healthy Snack?
Sorry, pre-packaged peanut butter or cheese cracker sandwiches do not fall into the healthy snack category–neither do over-sized bottles of various colored energy or sports drinks.
No worries, though, there are loads of options to choose from! Check out this short list of healthy, good-for-you examples:
- Raw almonds and walnuts. These are a much healthier choice than the roasted, salted and flavored versions. Check out this site for great pricing and great snack ideas from nuts.com!
- Chia pudding (needs to be refrigerated). This recipe makes 2 servings–and for all you ‘non-vegans’ out there, don’t be put off by the word vegan in the recipe name–it just means there are no animal products in it–which is fairly standard for chia pudding. 🙂 Bonus: this recipe makes 2 servings so you can divide it into individual containers for an easy ‘grab & go’–or even double it and have 4 servings ready to go!
- Small apple or 2 carrots and 1 oz quality cheese (not ‘prepared cheese product’–see my recent post for more on this).
- Celery sticks with 2 Tbsp almond butter. Give almond butter a try–it’s so good! If you decide to stick with peanut butter, avoid traditional peanut butters. The same post I referenced above lists healthier peanut butter choices–and nuts.com has almond butters available as well.
- Quality protein bar. This brief article describes what to look for in a quality, healthy protein bar and includes a newer bar called “Perfect Bar”.
- Plain Greek yogurt (1/2 cup-full fat) with fresh or frozen berries. Can easily be made ahead of time into individual servings with fresh or frozen fruit.
Not a Meal!
Post-workout snacks are meant to provide the energy needed until your next meal. Depending on the length and intensity of your workout–along with the amount of time until your next meal, some tweaking may be needed.
An added bonus: For those of you with children at home, this can be a powerful role-modeling experience so that your kids start following your actions and choosing healthy snacks! These snack options also work well for after school snacks. 🙂
To your ongoing health…
Sana Keller, PhD, RN Health Unlimited LLC
Photo credits: popsugar.com, lifetimewellnesschallenge.org, carltonriddick.com, thismommycooksdinner.com, whatsgoodattraderjoes.com, nuts.com, foodnetwork.com, nbsmokehouse.com, indulgy.com