15 healthy snacks to eat before or after you workout
Eating a well-balanced snack before and after you exercise is essential for repairing sore muscles. Your body needs healthy fats, carbs and proteins to help break down your hard-worked muscle tissue and give you your energy back. Eating a healthy snack about 30 to 60 minutes pre- and post- workout can prevent unbearable muscle soreness or an energy crash. This 30 to 60-minute window is when your muscles are breaking down amino acids (used to restore muscle tissue) the most.
Here are 15 of my favorite go-to snacks for keeping my energy level high and muscles fed. Each snack is 200 calories or less per serving. It’s important to remember that every body is different. We all know what our body needs when it comes to food – you might be a big breakfast eater, a small meal warrior or “I can’t eat too much before a workout” person, and this is all okay. Just make sure you are properly fueling your body depending on your activity level.
1. Banana-cado chocolate smoothie – Satisfies chocolate cravings and just tastes so good! In a blender or food processor, mix together 1 banana, ½ avocado, 2 to 3 teaspoons dark chocolate unsweetened cocoa powder, 3 teaspoons honey, 2 heaping spoonful’s plain Greek yogurt, ¾ cup almond or soy milk and 1 cup of ice. Serves 2.
2. Classic apples and PB - You can’t go wrong with this protein-rich snack. Simple and satisfying. Slice 1 apple and dip in 1 tablespoon natural peanut butter or almond butter. Serves 1.
3. Whole grain cereal with skim milk – Make sure the first ingredient of your cereal is whole wheat and use your favorite low-fat dairy or non-dairy milk. The whole wheat and low-fat milk are a perfect blend of protein and carbohydrates to support muscle recovery and energy. Pour ½ cup milk over 2/3 cup whole grain cereal. Add ½ cup blueberries and drizzle with 1 to 2 teaspoons honey. Serves 1.
4. Spicy cottage cheese with avocado – Choose low-fat cottage cheese, and you have an omega-3, low-fat, protein-rich snack. Mix ½ cup cottage cheese, 1 to 2 teaspoons Sriracha chili hot sauce (or any hot sauce) together. Top with ¼ of an avocado and ½ cup diced tomato. Add salt and pepper to taste. Serves 1. (Recipe derived from fitnessmagazine.com.)
5. Pear-cinnamon Greek yogurt – As simple as it sounds. Greek yogurt is a great source of healthy fat, dairy and protein. Slice 1 apple or pear, and sprinkle with a little cinnamon. Dip in ½ cup of Greek yogurt mixed with 2 teaspoons of honey. Diced peaches are a great substitute also. Serves 1.
6. Creamy avocado wasa crackers – Wasa wasa cracker? Delicious filling crackers low in fat, salt, calories and high in protein, fiber and vitamins. One cracker goes a long way and will fill you up until dinnertime. Spread ½ of an avocado and 2 tablespoons salsa onto 2 whole wheat protein wasa crackers (there are many flavors to choose from). Sprinkle with pepper and parmesan cheese. Serves 1.
7. Hummus and veggies – Hummus is filling and contains healthy fats and protein. Raw veggies are of course good for you because they are…well…veggies. Slice up 1 cup of your favorite raw veggies (think carrots, broccoli, cucumber and baby tomatoes) and dip in 2 tablespoons hummus. Serves 1.
8. Luna bar – On the go? Grab a delicious Luna bar for a quick energy fix. Luna bars are healthier than most of your traditional protein bars because they contain less sugar and are made with natural organic ingredients.
9. Simple trail mix – Watch out for those sneaky “healthy” or “energy” trail mixes laid out on the shelves at the convenience stores. Take a peek at the ingredients, and you will see every partially-hydrated oil under the sun, added sugars and loads of salt. When in doubt, make your own mix. This is a great snack to take with you on a hike or family bike ride. Mix 1 tablespoon raw almonds, 1 tablespoon pistachios, 1 to 2 tablespoons raisins (or any natural dried fruit with no added sugars). Add 1 tablespoon of dark chocolate chips to take the edge off. Serves 1.
10. Tuna on whole grain – Tuna is a lean protein and high in vitamins and iron. Opt for canned tuna in water – your muscles will love you. Spread ½ can tuna on half a whole wheat bagel or pita bread. Add a slice of tomato and sprinkle salt and pepper to taste. If you wish, dice the tomato, mix it with the tuna and serve with 6 whole grain crackers. Serves 1.
11. Apple with melted cheese – Apples are filling, naturally sweet and go great with a satisfying slice of low-fat cheese. Some cheeses to keep on your shopping list include feta, Swiss and parmesan – they are all lower in calories and a little bit goes a long way, so you’re more likely not to overindulge. Slice a medium apple in half and divide 1 slice (or 1 ounce) of your favorite cheese, covering both halves of the apple. Melt in the microwave for 30 to 45 seconds. Done. Easy peasy. Serves 1.
12. Berry flaxseed smoothie – Making your own smoothie is safer than buying on-the-go smoothies from a fast food restaurant, which are usually loaded with sugar and not made with real fruit. If you must get a smoothie to go, ask if they are made with real fruit and request low-fat dairy or milk. The key to a healthy, balanced smoothie is to add in one serving of fruit and vegetables, low-fat dairy, natural sweetener - if any - and healthy fats (which includes avocados, flaxseeds, chia seeds, coconut oil and almonds). In a blender or food processor, mix 1 medium banana, ½ cup mixed berries, ¼ cup plain Greek yogurt, 1 cup soy or almond milk, 1 tablespoon honey and 2 tablespoons milled flaxseed. Serves 2.
13. Eggs and toast – This is why your mama always whipped up some traditional eggs and toast for you before school – it’s a perfect protein and carb duo to keep you energized and feeling full, of course. Heat a small skillet on medium-heat. Whisk together 2 egg whites with a dash of salt, pepper and oregano and scramble on the hot skillet until cooked, about 5 to 7 minutes. Serve over 1 slice of whole wheat toast. Serves 1.
14. Hard-boiled egg and fruit – Whoever said you had to rule out egg yolks altogether? Yes, egg whites are a good source of protein, but the yolk is a great source of omega-3s and protein too. Adding a yolk to your diet here and there won’t break your diet. Slice a hard-boiled egg in half and serve with a ½ cup of fruit. Kiwis, berries and melons are all good fruits that will fill you up until lunchtime. Serves 1.
15. Five-ingredient protein cookies – These are my favorite “cookies” to make when I don’t have the patience to bake a complicated healthy dessert, and I need a quick fix to take the edge off without feeling guilty about it. No whisking, blending or fancy baking machinery required. Why not have two or three? These cookies are only about 40 calories each. Heat the oven to 350 F. Mix 1 cup of oatmeal, 1 mashed banana, ¼ teaspoon vanilla extract, ½ teaspoon cinnamon and ¼ cup dark chocolate chips (a mix of naturally dried cranberries, walnuts and raisins are ideal too). Use a spoon or ice cream scoop to form small “dough” balls and place them on a baking sheet coated with cooking spray. Bake for 15 to 20 minutes. Serves 4 to 6. Makes about 12 cookies. (Recipe derived from 12minuteathlete.com.)