Until recently, scientific evidence pointed towards focusing on post-workout protein only. However, a recent study from Syracuse University found that those who drank pre-workout protein shakes had a higher metabolism the next day. Your options are broad when it comes to both pre and post-workout protein sources, and the good news is your body doesn’t really care what the source of protein is, so long as it is getting a healthy source.
Eating pre and post-workout snacks is important for a couple of reasons. First, you are going to feel pretty sluggish when you rock up to the gym without a source of energy. This makes a combination of carbohydrates and protein before your workout essential. Second, there is a ‘golden hour’ following your workout when your muscles absorb the most nutrients. Making the most of that hour ensures you get more from your efforts.
What pre-workout protein snacks work?
You need some carbs in your pre-workout nutrition too, so place emphasis on both carbohydrates and protein. Getting ready for a long workout? Then try combining yogurt with some mixed fruit and nuts. This snack is easy on your stomach, which is just what you need when hammering at your cardio routine.
Muscles need protein for growth, so if your morning workout focuses on lifting you might want to consider a protein-loaded omelet. Resist the urge to include egg yolks if you like, but they do consider a useful source of cholesterol, which helps to synthesize your androgens. Add on some avocado, and consider including red peppers for added energy.
Some of us need to get to our workout sharpish, yet still want a substantial meal that will combine carbohydrates and protein without being complicated. A simple answer to that is to create overnight oats using almond milk, and then top them with more almonds. Almond milk is preferable to dairy, as it is lower in fat. Adding extra almonds makes sure you balance out the slow burning carbs from the oats and deliver enough protein for your workout. As you don’t want to run on a stodgy stomach, it may be a good idea to reserve overnight oats for when you plan on lifting instead.
Can’t stomach food first thing in the morning? Don’t worry, you’re not alone. That is why smoothies and juices can form part of your pre and post-workout arsenal. Greek yogurt and milk can act as a sound basis for your smoothie, but for the sake of reducing the fats present in your diet you may want to consider adding in coconut or almond milk instead. Choose between the array of whey and milk-based protein powders out there to make a simple shake. Have work after the gym? Then make one for your post-workout golden hour and stick it in a thermos.
What Post-Workout Snacks can You Try?
Post-workout protein during the ‘golden hour’ is essential for muscle growth. Providing high-quality protein gives your muscles the building blocks and fuel they need for repair and growth. So what is the ‘golden hour’ exactly? It is the 40-60 minutes following your workout when your metabolism is at its most effective. This is when your muscles are going to absorb the most nutrients, which means you have more opportunities to promote that essential repair process that helps them build.
One of the simplest ways to do this is with a protein bar or shake. When looking out for protein bars, read the ones with ‘high energy’ written on the label closely. Why? Because ‘high energy’ usually means that there is a lot of sugar in the bar. Essentially, those bars that contain lots of sugar are glorified candy bars. They taste fantastic, which is one of the biggest marketing hooks of producers. However, those carbs are unnecessary and distract your muscles from absorbing protein. Instead, stick to a lighter version of these bars with minimal calories and carbs. That way, you get the convenience of using a bar, without having to resort to eating high volumes of sugar.
Take a similar approach to protein shakes. The aim is to make sure you consume enough protein, not fill yourself with a McDonald’s shake in powder form. You have two options when it comes to shakes, you can make them before you go to the gym, or you can buy those that are pre-made. Having a cool shake is refreshing, so adding yours to a Thermos is a good way to ensure you get that refreshing feeling when you drink your shake following your workout. If you do not want dairy or cannot drink it, soy-based and whey-based shakes are an excellent option. Drinking them 30 minutes after exercising will provide the needed amino acids to your muscles. When looking at either energy bars or protein shakes, you need to make sure they have at least five grams of protein in them.
Amazingly, chocolate shakes have become quite a craze in the post-workout drink world lately. This makes sense, as it has everything you need in terms of protein, plus a little more. However, those who praise chocolate milk are quick to highlight that this post-workout drink is better for endurance athletes.
Some people prefer to chew following their workout, and there are plenty of snacks that will allow you to do just that. Hard boiled eggs, chicken strips, and peanut butter are all excellent sources of post-workout protein. In many cases, they trump the glorified expensive bars that claim to offer a miracle protein source, as not only do they lack preservatives, they are also cheap. Trying to figure out how to incorporate peanut butter into your post-workout meal? Try adding some to your avocados
Finally, the protein snacks you consume after a workout shouldn’t just focus on the protein itself. Your muscles will need a fresh source of ions following your workout, so check out shakes and bars that contain potassium and sodium too. As a rule, 110 milligrams of sodium and 30 milligrams of potassium will do. For those of you who love eggs, you’ll be pleased to learn that eggs contain the right balance of sodium and potassium.