When do you like to workout? I like to workout either pre-breakfast or early evening (4-6 hours after lunch) on an empty or nearly empty stomach, as many fitness pros and experts recommend. My workouts typically last no more than 90 minutes, and are sometimes as short as just 30 minutes, so eating to fuel my session is usually unnecessary. If you’re focusing on weight loss or maintenance, as opposed to muscle building or performance, you might also benefit from exercising in a “fasted” state. On the other hand, people with all different fitness goals benefit from having a small post-workout snack. Why? After a workout, your muscles are depleted of glycogen, which is their primary source of energy. At the same time, your muscles have been “broken down” and need to be repaired, ideally as quickly as possible. You have a 2-hour window to eat a mixture of protein and carbohydrates for optimum repair, so that you maintain and build lean muscle.
But often, intense exercise rather decreases your appetite. What happens when you skip this post-workout snack? You might feel weak or exhausted, and actually end up losing muscle in the long run. You may also end up eating too much at your next meal to compensate for the feeling of weakness. So try one of these healthy, balanced vegan post workout snacks to keep yourself properly fueled after your next session!
1. Superfood Smoothie – Post-workout, I like a smoothie that has a touch of sweetness from fruit and some leafy greens for nutritional boost. You can mix and match any number of your favorite greens and fruits and adjust to your taste. This Blueberry Kale and Flax smoothie is just 1/2 cup frozen blueberries, banana, 8 oz flax milk, and few leaves of lacinto kale. The vitamin C from the berries helps with absorption of the iron in the greens; flax milk provides 5 g protein, and banana gives potassium for muscle recovery.
2. Avocado Salsa Boat – Cut a ripe avocado in half. Remove the pit and fill with your favorite salsa, plus some walnuts for protein. The fats in avocado make carotenoids in tomato, such as lycopene, more bioavailable.
3. Hummus with crudite – I know, this isn’t anything too original. But this is a classic for a reason! Make your own hummus and store it in an airtight container, and keep washed and cut veggies in the fridge for easy snacking. Favorite veggie pairings include: red and yellow bell peppers; carrots; cucumber; raw mushroom slices; celery; olives–you need to replenish your salt!
4. Tartine with sprouts – Toast a slice of good, multigrain bread. Spread with 1/3 ripe avocado. Sprinkle with lemon juice, pink Himalayan salt, fresh black pepper, and a few shakes of nutritional yeast for protein and vitamin Bs. Top with sprouts (alfalfa, broccoli, radish, etc).
5. Dates with cashew butter – dates are not only deep dark and delicious–they’re also very nutritious. They’re a good source of potassium and magnesium, both electrolytes that need to be replenished after a workout. Pair with 2 tbsp cashew butter, which provides a protein boost, as well as extra magnesium. Cashews are also one of the best vegan sources of zinc (good for hormonal balance and acne), and copper (essential for anti-aging and melanin-production).
6. Protein cookies / granola bars – Nothing beats the convenience of ready-made protein bars. Look for all-natural ingredients only–nowadays, there are many raw and/or unprocessed options like Raw Revolution or 22 Days. Or experiment with baking your own health cookies and bars, like my gluten-free yoga cookies. Hint: you can add more protein boost by substituting 1/4 cup brown rice flour with the same amount of vegan protein powder.
Do you have a favorite post-workout snack? Discuss!
Related: Proper Hydration for Running
Photo: Peaceful Dumpling