“Don’t drink sodas or juice during a workout—they have higher concentrations of sugar per ounce which may lead to cramping,” says Palinski-Wade. She recommends an electrolyte-rich beverage like coconut water (without added sugars or artificial ingredients) because it contains five essential electrolytes and re-hydrates in a way water can’t before and after a workout.
Refuel with a balanced meal or snack in the 200- to 250-calorie range within 30 minutes of exercise. It should include at least one to two servings of carbohydrates (like whole grains and fruits/veggies), protein, and at least one serving of fat.
“The fruits and whole grains will help replenish glycogen (carbohydrate) stores that were used during the workout, and the lean protein will help repair the microscopic muscle tears that occur during exercise,” says Amy Jamieson-Petonic, RD, Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics Spokesperson. “Research has shown that only a small amount of protein is needed to do this, around 10 grams, she says.
Remember that lots of veggies are rich in water content so feel free to round out your other favorite post-workout snacks with raw celery, carrots, cucumbers, spinach, peppers, radishes and zucchinis for low-cal options that’ll fill you up!
Post-workout snack and meal suggestions:
- Make a wrap with 2 oz grilled chicken breast, 100% whole grain wrap, lettuce, tomato, 1 Tbsp salad dressing, and 1/4 cup shredded cheese.
- Dig into a yogurt parfait made with 1 cup low-fat Greek yogurt, 1/4 cup granola, 2 Tbsp chopped walnuts, and 1/2 cup berries.
- Whip up a two-egg omelet filled with spinach and mushrooms served with 2 slices of 100% whole grain toast topped with 2 tsp whipped butter.
- Have 1 cup of raw chopped veggies (like celery, carrots, cucumbers), 2 Tbsp hummus, about 100-calories worth of whole-grain crackers
- For an on-the-go option, pair one string cheese with a piece (or cup) of fruit. If you’re really hungry add 1 oz whole-grain pretzels.