If you're looking for a post-workout treat, there are a lot of healthy options designed to re-energise and replace your body's fuel stores. Rather than undoing all the excellent weight loss work you’ve done during your treadmill session or exercise bike regime, eating straight after a workout can give your body the essential calories it needs to repair your muscles and recover well.
Actually, research suggests you’ll decrease your ability to refill energy stores by a whopping fifty per cent if you don’t eat in the two hours after your workout. A post-exercise snack also increases your insulin sensitivity and proper use of carbohydrates for the next twenty-four hours, too – both vital considerations for losing weight efficiently.
It’s important not to starve yourself after you work out but do be careful in what foods you choose to refuel. Feeding your body before and after your workout is the best way to burn more calories, build more muscle, lose weight and stay energised.
Here’s a list of tasty, healthy snacks that work with your metabolism and support your weight loss goals:
- Sports drinks. Immediately after you work out, kick-start the recovery process with a liquid meal, or sports drink like Gatorade. Make sure it contains a good mix of protein and carbs – in liquid form, they'll get into your system faster, and you won't suffer any of the digestion problems that can occur just after an exercise session.
- Protein shakes. The International Society of Sports Medicine Journal suggests making a protein shake with half a banana, protein powder, almond milk and hemp seeds to maximise the weight loss benefits of exercise.
- Peanut butter and banana. Get your carb fix with the banana, plus potassium and magnesium for muscle recovery. Add the peanut butter for protein and healthy fat. Yum!
- Yoghurt Berry treat. Mix fresh or frozen berries with natural Greek yoghurt and a little honey for a protein-rich, low calorie and low carb pick-me-up that’s naturally high in antioxidants.
- Quinoa salads. A vegan’s delight, this naturally high in protein super cereal can be mixed with salad leaves and tomatoes for a delicious small meal. Add chickpeas, tofu or beans for an added protein and carb hit.
- Boiled, poached or baked, the humble egg gives you a whack of recovery fuelling protein and fills you up fast. You could also add a baked sweet potato, paneer, sprouts or savoury, low-fat muffin for a more substantial meal.
- Cottage cheese on anything. This superfood is high in protein and the amino acid, leucine, which helps you burn more calories when you’re resting. Add celery or carrot sticks (any raw vegetable will do) for a crunch satisfying snack or try it with fruit and vanilla essence if you’re a sweet tooth.
- Healthy fats. Because they contain concentrated calories, go easy on unsaturated fats like avocados, nuts, seeds and fatty fish like salmon and tuna. However, they're a great source of energy, perfect after a punishing workout session.
- Chocolate milk. If you can handle the lactose, chocolate milk is a great way to replenish your energy stores and promote muscle recovery for continued weight loss. Just don’t add more than a couple of teaspoons of chocolate powder to the mix. Calcium also helps reduce abdominal weight gain.
- Thermogenic capsaicin in hot chillies raises your temperature and helps you burn more energy and fat, according to the American Journal of Psychology. If you can handle it, throw a few chillis onto your salad to boost your weight loss goals.