Healthy Snacks for After Workouts

Here’s a good question, I bet quite a few of you wonder about too…When I work out at the gym, I am there for a couple of hours and by the end of the first hour, I start getting hungry. I was wondering if you have any recommendations for any specific store bought nutrition or energy bars.”

To get the most bang for you buck, snacks should provide energy and “holding power” for the least number of calories. That’s why I don’t normally recommend popular snacks like energy bars, because they contain excess amounts of fats and sweeteners and add on empty calories.

 While a small amount of fat helps you to feel satisfied, excessive amounts of fat can slow down your digestion to the point where it takes too long for you to get that quick refill of energy we need. However, excessive amounts of simple sugars digest too quickly, leaving you hungry once again in a very short period of time.

There are other choices to carry around than just energy bars. My quick snack of choice is an apple with almond butter that I bring from home in Tupperware or a small baggie of nuts or homemade trail mix. I always have a small stash of nuts hidden somewhere in my gym bag (which comes with me everywhere). My personal favorites are almonds, pistachios, cashews and Brazil nuts. When I’m feeling ambitious I’ll combine a few different kinds together in a plastic zipper bag, along with some unsweetened dried fruit, just to mix things up.

One of the only drawbacks of snacking on nuts is if you are really hungry it is easy to eat too many. To avoid this I recommend getting into the habit of counting the nuts you eat, drinking water and waiting 20 minutes before eating more. The protein and fat in nuts can be very satisfying, but it takes awhile for the satiety signals to reach your brain.

Here are some serving size guidelines:

Almonds 20 -24
Brazil nuts 6 – 8
Cashews 16 -18
Flaxseeds 2 tablespoons
Hazel nuts 18 – 20
Macadamias 10 – 12
Peanuts 28
Pecans 18 – 20
Pine nuts 150 – 157

After some practice, eating the proper amount will come naturally to you. But at the beginning you should either count the nuts or measure them out in advance so it is easier to make good decisions.

There are a few other easily transportable foods that can serve as good substitutes for energy bars…

  • Fruit is a great option, particularly filling fruits with lots of fiber like apples, grapefruit and oranges.
  • Jerky is another. There are several varieties: beef, turkey, even have wild salmon jerky. Just be careful, the teriyaki flavor that is often high in added sugar.
  • Cut up vegetables and bean dips are a great high fiber and high protein option.  Most stores now even offer precut, organic vegetable and premade dips.

The takeaway to remember is that just like your meals, snacks should provide a balance of nutrients…protein, fiber and fat. 

As a final thought, I wonder if you are maybe spending too much time in the gym? For weight loss and fat burning, more than an hour is really overkill and may actually work against you. If you are training for a specific athletic event, you’ve gotta do what you gotta do. But for the rest of us mortals one hour in the gym is more than enough to accomplish our goals. Maybe your hunger is a signal to you that it’s time to shower up and head home? Check out this article on how to get fit in 6 minutes

One of the most essential aspects of a great healthy lifestyle is planning for moments of hunger throughout your day, but processed foods are hardly ever the answer–no matter how convenient.

What are your favorite post-workout snacks?

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