Updated: May 30, 2022
Eating healthy and exercise go hand in hand. Exercise without eating well can impact results from exercise as well as recovery time. This is why it is so important to fuel your workouts with the correct type of food, at the correct time. Snacks are a great way to maintain fullness, prevent overeating at subsequent meals, and provide energy for working out and exercising. These snacks can come in all shapes and sizes and can be in the form of quick on the go snacks before or after workouts, or post-workout snacks at home.
Our bodies require different nutrients both before and after working out or exercising. If you have experienced fatigue during or after a workout, it may be due to what you are (or are not) eating!
Prior to working out we want to ensure our body has sufficient blood glucose and glycogen stores, which is the body’s main form of energy prior to and during workouts. For pre-workout snacks we want to include food with more carbohydrates and some protein. This can be in the form of simple carbohydrates needed to maintain blood glucose levels, such as fruits or whole grains. A small amount of protein will help ensure our muscles have adequate protein to continually build muscle and also help maintain our fullness for a longer period of time. Nuts, fruit and granola bars with a glass of plant-based milk are a few options.
It is best to eat these snacks 1-2 hours before a workout, which will allow the food to be digested and help with not feeling bloated during the workout.
Pre-workout plant-based snacks include:
Fruit such as pear, banana or apple with your favorite nut butter
A cup of soy milk
Soy or coconut yogurt with berries
Assorted granola bars (look for some with at least 5g of protein or make your own granola here)
Overnight oats with plant-based milk, nuts and/or seeds and berries
After working out we want to replenish the body’s glycogen stores with some carbohydrates and maximize muscle gains with protein. For post-workout snacks we want to include a little more protein than the pre-workout snack, along with some carbohydrates. We can utilize some of the foods as we did with our pre-workout snack, but focus on getting more protein with plant-based protein options.
Post workout snacks can be larger since you've finished your workout and your body needs fuel to replenish glycogen, repair muscle breakdown and fuel muscle growth. Some recipes from the purely planted blog include: antioxidant-charged smoothies, ready-to-eat hearty bean soups, chickpea salad sandwich or better than your frozen black bean burgers—all can be great plant-based post-workout snacks or meals.
Post-workout snacks should also be consumed within 1-2 hours following a workout. Having a small snack immediately following a workout followed by a larger snack or full meal 1-2 hours after will optimize muscle building and recovery. If you are focused on increasing muscle mass, eating sufficient protein within this window is key.
Post-workout snacks include:
Antioxidant-Charged Smoothie - A filling post workout shake with soy/almond milk, frozen fruit, peanut butter, and chia/hemp seeds
10-Minute Prep Hearty Bean Soup - Delicious, quick and easy post-workout meal with protein and carbohydrate (photo below)
Better Than Your Frozen Black Bean Burgers - Instead of a regular hamburger, try this low-fat, flavorful burger full of plant-based nutrition. Have them on hand, ready to go for a quick snack or meal.
Chipotle Chickpea Salad Sandwich - prep the chickpea salad ahead of time so that you can easily make it into a sandwich or spoon into a bowl for a tasty meal or snack.
A handful of nuts with dried fruit - if you're really on the go or don't have a full appetite to eat a full meal following a workout.
Hummus with crackers or carrots - another quick and easy snack until you can grab a full meal.
What are some of your go-to snacks to fuel your workouts?
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Hey everyone! My name is Alec Pienta and I am finishing the master's level Coordinated Program of Nutrition at Georgia State University, which will enable me to sit and (hopefully) pass the exam to become a Registered Dietitian. I was drawn to studying nutrition through sports and exercise in high school. Nutrition education is one of the aspects I am most passionate about. I enjoy being able to talk about nutrition guidelines, clear up misconceptions, and tell fun facts! I am open to where the world of nutrition leads me, but know that I will be happy being able to communicate nutrition information to anyone who will listen.