While most personal trainers won’t agree on just how many crunches you’ll have to torture yourself with to get the core you want, they all agree on one thing: it’s important to eat within two hours of a workout. Why? Because the calories you consume right after a workout are used to replenish and repair, not to store as fat. And what you eat matters, too, so I’ve chatted up my own trainer and gotten some tips from him. Here are his suggestions for what to eat after a workout. The bad news: I still think he’s trying to kill me (1,000 crunches and counting!)… the good news? I know how to recover.
1. Energy or Protein Bar
There’s a reason these handy little bars are so popular in gym vending machines and at post-race snack tables — they’re incredibly effective at delivering the nutrition you need after a session at the gym or a long run. Look for a bar with 5 grams of protein and not a lot of sugar or fat. I love Clif bars and Luna bars… so many yummy flavors! There’s bound to be a protein bar you like, and will even look forward to, and they’re easy to pack and carry, earning them the top spot on my list of what to eat after a workout.
2. Whole Grains
I workout in the morning, so the best thing for me to eat after a workout is breakfast food, like a whole-grain bagel or toast. The fiber helps replenish my energy and it helps me feel full for a long time. Oatmeal is another great whole grain, too!
3. A Banana
This humble little fruit packs more power than you’d think. It’s loaded with natural sugars (for energy) and potassium (to prevent and ease muscle cramps) and antioxidants (for healthy cell regeneration). Is there anything this little yellow fruit can’t do? Nope. So it’s exactly what to eat after a workout.
4. Lean Protein
Proteins are the building blocks of lean muscle, so you’ll want to have a serving of lean protein after a session with your personal trainer (or just the other girls at the track). Try tuna, beans, quinoa, chia seeds, tofu, even a grilled chicken breast.
5. Leafy Greens
Hooray for salad! Especially if you add a lean protein to your leafy greens, a salad is another great food to eat after a workout. Why? Again, it’s loaded with nutrients your body needs to replenish and rebuild, and a salad is also low in fat. Avoid high-fat toppings, then, like dressings and cheese. Top with beans or tuna or grilled chicken instead.
6. Fresh Fruit Smoothie
You burned a lot more than calories during your workout — it’s time to replace some of it with a fresh fruit and Greek yoghurt smoothie. It’s the perfect one-two nutritional punch… the protein in the Greek yoghurt and the antioxidants and natural sugar carbs in the fresh fruit.
7. Don’t Forget to Rehydrate, Too!
Whether you choose fancy sports drinks like Propel or Gatorade, or just plain water (or unsweetened iced tea, like me), be sure to rehydrate after working out. Sometimes what to eat after a workout is actually something to DRINK after a workout!
Now that you know exactly what to eat after a workout, and why, let me share one more protip with you: combine these for even better results! Have oatmeal with some fresh berries, or enjoy a salad chock full of protein… what a great way to refuel! Which of these will you try after your next workout? Or do you have another suggestion on what to eat after a workout? Please share! Now… back to my crunches!