You know that protein is essential to building strong, lean muscle. But your pre- and post-workout meals should be varied to fit your fitness goals and your body's unique nutritional needs. These eight foods will give you the right nutrients to fuel your workout.
Thicker and creamier than plain yogurt, Greek yogurt is a perfect workout snack because it's loaded with protein. It also offers carbohydrates to keep you energized, making it great to have before and after you exercise. Be aware: not all Greek yogurt is equal. Many varieties are infused with fruit flavoring, which adds a ton of sugar. Opt for the plain type to really boost your workout nutrition. You can mix in some berries and granola to enjoy added nutrients.
Bananas are loaded with potassium, an electrolyte that controls water levels in your body. When you sweat, you lose these electrolytes and that can lead to fatigue and muscle cramps, so you need to replenish after your workout.
The latest snack craze hitting the world of Instagram and Pinterest is avocado on toast. Avocados come loaded with important nutrients such as fiber and omega-3 fatty acids. Those healthy fats help absorb key nutrients, so spread some avocado on your toast and snack away.
Like Greek yogurt, cottage cheese is high in protein, but it also provides the glutamine needed to properly support your tired muscles following an intense workout session. Just one serving will deliver a mix of protein, healthy fats and B vitamins; vitamin B12 can help restore your energy reserves. If you're feeling particularly worn-out after exercising, mix some cottage cheese with your favorite fruits for a refreshing snack.
Almonds serve up a healthy combo of protein and healthy fats. You'll also get lots of potassium to keep your muscles strong after you've worked out. Spread some almond butter on a whole-wheat bagel and enjoy!
Made from protein-packed chickpeas, hummus offers many nutrients that are important for physical exercise. Not only does it contain a fair amount of protein to support muscle recovery, but hummus is also high in potassium and magnesium—both of which help boost energy levels. Enjoy hummus on pita bread or with some chopped veggies.
Looking for something light and easy to pack for a snack? Try an apple, which contains glucose and fructose, two natural sugars that supply energy to your cells. This crunchy, delicious fruit is also high in vitamin C, which is important in building connective tissue and collagen, meaning you'll maintain your strength and flexibility for morning yoga.
Forget the protein shake because research shows that chocolate milk provides an ideal combination of nutrients to support your workout recovery. The protein helps build strong, lean muscle and the carbohydrates from the sugars replace some of the energy lost during the workout. Treat yourself to a sweet post-workout reward!
You don't always need to eat meat or throw back a protein shake to get the optimal nutrition to support your fitness regimen. These eight foods offer other important nutrients that will keep you happy, healthy and ready for your next workout session.
Looking for some tasty post-workout recipes? Check out these healthy options!