We typically avoid eating anything heavy before we exercise because we don’t want to be moving around too much on a full stomach. However, our bodies still need fuel to get the most out of our physical activities — and what we eat after a workout makes a difference, too! Thankfully, there are plenty of healthy (and delicious) snacks that can boost a workout.
Before we dive in, it’s also important to know when to eat for the most benefits. The experts at Harding Medical Institute suggest eating pre-workout snacks an hour beforehand and post-workout treats within 90 minutes after exercising. This allows your body to recover and recharge properly throughout the exercise. Now, let’s look at three tasty options!
If you’re looking for a quick and healthy pre-workout snack, Medjool dates (which are bigger and juicier than normal dates) are a perfect choice! “High in carbohydrates, potassium, and other minerals, dates are a solid fuel for performance and recovery,” Katie Kissane, RD, CSSD, told Men’s Journal.
The 36 grams of slow-burning carbs from eating just two dates will keep your energy levels up throughout your entire workout. Kissane added that two dates equal seven percent of your daily recommended intake of potassium, which can prevent muscle cramps better than a sports drink. “If potassium levels inside the cells are less than outside, this can cause muscle cramping and weakness,” she explained.
You can pick up Medjool dates from the store or online (Buy at Walmart, $8.99). They’re naturally sweet, so you’re kind of rewarding yourself for sticking to your fitness regimen!
Dipping celery or carrots into creamy hummus is a yummy midday snack any time, but the health gurus at Hope Foods recommend eating it before or after exercising. “Hummus has made waves in the exercise community mainly because of its nutrient density,” they explain.
Research published in the journal Nutrients noted that chickpeas (the main ingredient in hummus) are packed with fiber, iron, and vitamins A, C, and E. Study authors claimed eating four tablespoons (about 100 calories) of hummus daily was roughly equivalent to two cups of legumes per week. Over time, it helped participants with weight management and lowered their risk of heart disease and type 2 diabetes.
The dip was also previously found to slash food cravings by 70 percent, so your appetite will be satisfied until it’s time to eat lunch or dinner. You can make homemade hummus and pack it in an airtight container before hitting the gym. Buying small cups of pre-made hummus is another convenient option, like Sabra Two Ounce Singles Classic Hummus (Buy at Walmart, $4.72).
Cottage cheese has a lot of surprising perks, like being a great late-night snack for better sleep and an excellent post-exercise treat. A study published in Nutrients credited the micronutrients in cottage cheese such as calcium and vitamin D for keeping your bones strong after a workout. Study authors explain, “A food matrix that is rich in dietary protein, calcium, fatty acids, sugars, etc., likely has multiple benefits towards post-exercise recovery.”
Essentially, eating cottage cheese along with other nutrient-rich foods makes leading an active lifestyle more effective. Similar to hummus, cottage cheese comes in handy little cups (Buy at Walmart, $0.98), so you can pack a spoon and enjoy when you’re ready. If you’d rather not eat it plain, try adding a handful of blueberries. Eating the fruit with dairy boosts its anti-inflammatory effects, so it’s win-win!
With these three snack ideas, you’ll definitely have something to look forward to during your regular exercise routine. You can also browse our list for the best keto chips and snack bars if you’re looking for more healthy and delicious treats.
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