Healthy Post Workout Snacks

Running on a trail

(Healthcastle.com) Do you know if or why you might need a post workout snack? Or if you'd be better off without one? Find out if your workout would benefit from a post workout snack as well as some quick, healthy and tasty ideas for ones you can whip up at home. 

What’s it for?

A post workout snack has two functions: 

  1. Replenish blood sugar and glycogen (your body’s storage form of carbohydrates that your muscles draw on to keep you going through a workout).
  2. Maximize muscle growth and repair.

When do I need one?

  • Within 1-2 hours after long (60-90 minutes) or very intense workouts
  • If you have more than two hours to go until your next regular meal or snack.
  • If you experience symptoms of hypoglycemia such as feeling weak, shaky, nauseated or light headed if you don’t eat soon after a workout.

When don’t I need one?

If your goal is weight loss, time your regular meals and snacks for training days around your workouts so you aren’t adding extra food. It’s very easy to out-eat the calories burned in a workout, so adding extra shakes and snacks tends to be a recipe for slow or no results.

Snack Ideas

A good post workout snack is made up of carbohydrates with a bit of protein - easily obtained from fresh whole foods so don't feel like you need to invest in pricey powders or bars, especially if you're training for health or at an amateur/recreational level. In my mind, that money is better spent on a coach or equipment that helps you keep moving towards your goal!

There is lots of research around the exact ratio of carbohydrates to protein that helps with the two main functions, but results are mixed. The general consensus for more advanced and intense training is to aim for a ratio between 3:1 and 2:1 depending on the type of workout. Endurance training seems to benefit more from a higher ratio of carbs, likely due to a greater need to replenish blood sugar and glycogen than strength based workouts. 

Don't get too caught up in the numbers- for most recreational and amateur athletes as long as you've got a bit of both your body will thank you!

  • For light workouts a piece of fruit is a great way to top up blood sugar until your next meal without breaking the calorie bank.

For longer or more intense workouts try:

  • Apple slices with almond butter – 1 apple and 1 tbsp of peanut butter ( 189 calories, 28 g carbohydrates, 4 g of protein)
  • 1/4 cup of homemade trail mix (1/2 almonds and 1/2 dried cranberries) –148 calories, 4 g protein, 13 grams of carbohydrates
  • 1 cup berries and 1/2 cup 2% vanilla Greek yogurt - 181 calories, 30 g carbohydrates, 10 g protein
  • Tuna salad (1/3 cup) on 7 rice crackers- 180 calories, 12 g protein, 17 g carbohydrates
  • Whey powder (the serving size depends on the brand, look for about 15 g of protein) mixed with 1 cup milk (dairy, almond, or rice) with a sprinkle of cocoa or a half banana blended in.

What are your favourite post workout snacks? Comment below or email Michelle with your thoughts!

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HealthCastle, founded in 1997, is the largest online nutrition community run by Registered Dietitians. Information on this site is provided for informational purposes and is not meant to substitute for the advice provided by your own physician or dietitian. Information and statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration and are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.