Several factors determine a post-workout meal or snack’s effectiveness. Not only does it have to have the right ingredients, but those ingredients must be in the right amounts. The perfect, protein-rich snack will help you recover better and faster so that you can get back in the gym or do whatever else you like to do outside of the gym.
These quick snacks can give your body the protein it needs without requiring a multi-step preparation process or cooking time. They can also stave off carb cravings like breadcrumbs can keep monsters at bay.
Smoothies are a great post-workout snack because they’re fast, portable, and nutritious. A high-quality whey protein powder can be added to any smoothie recipe for extra protein. Protein powders come in many different flavors, so there’s something for everyone!
Nuts and Seeds (almonds, walnuts, macadamias)
Nuts and seeds are excellent sources of protein as well as healthy fats. They’re also relatively low in calories compared with other snack foods like potato chips or pretzels. Add nut butter like peanut butter or almond butter on toast or a piece of fruit for an extra boost of protein and healthy fat right after exercise!
Greek Yogurt with Granola
Greek yogurt has far more protein than regular yogurt (18 grams per cup), as well as calcium and other vitamins important for bone health. It also contains probiotics — live cultures that aid digestion and boost immunity — which makes it an excellent choice for post-workout nutrition because it helps replace beneficial bacteria lost during exercise. Top your yogurt with fresh fruit and seeds like flax or chia for extra nutrients.
Yogurt parfaits are another delicious option for refueling after a workout. Just layer yogurt with fresh fruit and granola in a glass or bowl, and you have an easy-to-digest snack that will keep you feeling full longer than most other foods. You can even add nuts or seeds if you want more protein in your parfait!
Jerky is made from lean meat, so it’s rich in protein, but it also has creatine — an amino acid that helps build muscle tissue. It’s also low in fat and carbs, so it’s a great choice for those on a diet or trying to lose weight. Turkey jerky is also portable, so you can eat it on the go without worrying about spills or crumbs.
Eggs are one of the most versatile foods — you can use them as a main dish or an ingredient in other recipes! Scrambled eggs are a great option because they’re filling and easy to make ahead of time, so you can grab them on the go when hunger strikes after a workout. You can also hard-boil eggs at home and keep them in the refrigerator for up to two weeks; keep them in an airtight container or covered with water (if they’re peeled) so they don’t dry out or get moldy while waiting for breakfast or lunchtime!
This recipe uses turkey slices, whole wheat bread, and cheese to create a delicious sandwich perfect for refueling after a hard workout. You’ll get about 18 grams of protein per serving, more than half of what you need to help your body recover from exercise.
Peanut Butter Apple Slices
Peanut butter is a great source of protein and fiber, plus it contains healthy fats that can help keep you full longer than other foods high in carbohydrates only. Apple slices provide more fiber than you’d get from most fruits and also provide some natural sweetness. If you want even more nutrients, opt for organic peanut butter with no added sugars or oils; then pair it with whole grain crackers or wheat toast for extra energy.
Roasted chickpeas are snacks that taste good and are also good for you. They’re crunchy, salty, and nutty, and they’re super simple to make. Just toss some cooked chickpeas with olive oil, salt, and pepper, spread them out on a baking sheet, and roast at 400 degrees F until golden brown. (You could also bake them instead of roasting them.)
Cottage Cheese with Berries
One cup of low-fat cottage cheese has 15 grams of protein, potassium, vitamin B12, and zinc. Add a few berries — strawberries are especially good because they contain antioxidants called anthocyanins that help reduce inflammation — and you have a healthy post-workout meal or snack.
Gone are the days of choosing between sweet and salty for our post-workout protein fix. Today’s snacks come in various flavors and textures, allowing you to live it up without sacrificing your goals. You can feed your sweet tooth without going overboard—but it may not always be healthier or more nutritious than the alternative, so eat mindfully and exercise self-control, whatever snacks you choose.