8 Post-Workout Snacks – “These Are A Few Of My Favorite Things”

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While I certainly don't eat cream colored ponies and crisp apple streudels after a tough workout, I do have a few of my favorite things that I turn to to replenish storage carbohydrate and inject fresh amino acids for muscle repair.

Frankly, after I finish a cardiovascularly intensive workout is the one time of day that you will see me hammering down carbohydrates quite fiercely.

This is because my body (and yours) is more insulin sensitive following a workout, and carbohydrates are less likely to be shuttled to the liver and converted to fat, and more likely to end up getting shoves into the muscles by insulin and stored away as storage carbohydrate energy (AKA glycogen).

After a strength training workout, I am less likely to replenish carbohydrate as intensively, particularly because I burn fewer calories and reach lower metabolic intensity during weight training. The body simply doesn't need quite as many carbohydrates after strength training, and you'll often see me choosing protein and fat-rich, low-carbohydrate meals after a strength training session that does not include cardiovascular intervals.

So enough with the banter (although if you want to get down the nitty-gritty science, I have a couple good links for you at the end of this article).

What are my 8 favorite post-workout snacks?

After Hard Or Long Cardio Sessions:

1. Sweet Potato or Sweet Potato Fries , with amino acid capsules or a side of protein from the fridge such as leftover chicken, steak, fish or shrimp.

2. Fresh fruit: 1 piece fresh raw fruit, such as a large apple, with a handful of nuts, such as almonds or macadamia nuts (not technically a complete protein profile, but I get enough protein throughout the rest of the day to where I'm not worried, and you shouldn't be either).

3. Quinoa. Quinoa actually has a decent enough protein-to-carbohydrate ratio to where you can have it all by itself, with a little extra virgin olive oil, salt and pepper. No need to add extra goodies.

Mix14. Mix1 “All-Natural” protein shake. This is a new one for me, but I've really been digging the tasty fare from this company. Technically, their shake is a 2:1 carb-to-protein ratio, not a 3:1 or 4:1, but if you want to bring the ratios into alignment, you can just throw it in a blender with ice and banana. I personally just drink Mix1 straight from the container, or dump  it over ice. As a matter of fact, it's what I'm sipping on as I write this piece (see right).

After Strength Workouts:

1. Coconut Milk + 20-30g Protein Powder. This is a good blend of fat and protein, and I'll toss in a handful of almonds and 1/2 a sliced banana for a touch of carbohydrate. I mash all this together in a cup. Usually, I use a Mt. Capra Double Bonded Protein or a LivingProtein

2. Vegetables + meat. The Spicy Shrimp & Onions video recipe I posted here is a perfect example. I also like to do stir fry vegetables (you can buy them frozen in bag) with sliced beef or chicken. For carbohydrates, I will typically eat this in a sprouted grain wrap, or with a small side of brown rice or quinoa.

3. Sardines. I love me some sardines, and often eat them straight out of the can. Post-workout, I put them on homemade flax seed crackers (watch them in the video at the top of this page) with tomato and spinach.

4. Smoothie. Smoothies are quick and convenient post-workout nutrition options. Here are some of my favorite recipes:

  • Blueberry coconut shake – Combine a handful of frozen blueberries, 3 tablespoons of shredded, unsweetened coconut and ice to desired texture. Add approx 4oz unsweetened coconut milk, rice milk or water to desired texture and blend.
  • Nutty shake 2 – Combine 1 tablespoon almond butter, 2 tablespoons shredded, unsweetened coconut, 2 tablespoons sunflower seeds, ice and water or  4oz unsweetened coconut  milk or rice milk.
  • Coconut-Kiwi: Blend together 4oz unsweetened coconut milk, rice milk or water, 1 cups frozen apricots or peaches, and 1 frozen kiwi.
  • Berry shake – Combine a handful of frozen berries and ice to desired texture. Add 4oz unsweetened coconut milk, rice milk or water and blend.
  • Nutty banana shake – Combine 2 tablespoons flax seeds, 1 handful almonds or walnuts, 1 banana and ice to desired texture. Add 4oz unsweetened coconut milk, rice milk or water.
  • Juice shake – Blend 1/2 cup unsweetened coconut milk or water with 1 teaspoons vanilla extract, 2 teaspoons nutmeg or cinnamon, and ¼ cup of either apple juice concentrate, blueberry concentrate, or cherry juice concentrate.
  • Fruit shake – Freeze any of the following fruits: apples, berries, oranges, grapes, melons, peaches, apricots, pears, pineapple, or plumbs. Blend 1 cup of frozen fruit with 4oz unsweetened coconut milk, rice milk or water
  • Mango Mint: Blend 4oz unsweetened coconut milk, rice milk or water, 1/2  cup frozen mango, ½ cup frozen peach, and 1 tablespoon fresh chopped mint.
  • Kiwi-Strawberry: Blend together 4oz unsweetened coconut milk, rice milk, 2 frozen kiwis, 1/1/2 cups frozen strawberries, and 1 teaspoon flax seed.

To be fair, I should let you know that there are certainly some cases where I don't eat anything at all after a workout, and I talk more about that in great detail in the free Rock Star Triathlete Academy article “Putting the Pre & Post Workout Nutrition Debate Into The Grave” , and also in Podcast Episode #73 of David Warden's Tri-Talk.

Questions? Comments? Confusion?

Feel free to leave them below!

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14 thoughts on “8 Post-Workout Snacks – “These Are A Few Of My Favorite Things”

  1. Liz says:

    I was so excited to find a link to a video for Jessa's homemade flax seed crackers but the note says to watch them in the video at the to of this page and I can't find one. The link took me to your inner circle page (I am a member and I'm logged in) but a video didn't come on there either… can you help? I am really excited to try making those crackers and stop buying ones full of wheat! Thank you.

    1. All the links in my post are clickable, Liz. Click on where it says "Watch The Video At The Top Of This Page", or, when you're logged into the Inner Circle, look in the bonus materials section. Flax recipe is there.

  2. Jesse says:

    I’m addicted to a bowl of muesli after high intensity cardio. It’s just rolled oats with nuts, dried fruit, 2 table spoons of natural yogurt and milk powder.

  3. Cynthia says:

    Ben – What coconut milk do you use?

    1. We are in the process of building our own coconut milk procedure in our kitchen. For now, we just use canned (guar gum + coconut milk). Our next Inner Circle seminar is about How To Make Your Own Coconut Milk.

      1. Cynthia says:

        Cool! What are your thoughts on the coconut water drinks? They are billed as being a great isotonic drink, with a perfect electrolyte balance. Have you done research on this and/or do you use or recommend the use of coconut water?

        1. Great for hydration, but not enough calories to do much at all pre or post workout.

  4. Jennifer says:

    I do hot yoga 4-5 days a week and it's a pretty intense workout. While I'm not running or doing traditional aerobic exercise, my assumption is that it would fall under the cardio session and not strength. Though, I do know I am building muscle with some of the inversions and plank work. There are also yoga sculpt classes which is hot yoga done at a faster pace while holding and posing with weights. What should I be loading up on after each of these two types of workouts?

    1. Yoga barely burns any calories. Like slightly above walking. I'd go higher protein for this one.

  5. Kelcey says:

    I notice you eat quite a bit of fat in your recovery nutrition. I was under the impression that one should keep fat to a minimum immediately after a workout to facilitate the insulin response which will then fill glycogen stores quickly (within the "30 minute window"), taking protein with it (hence the 4:1 or 3:1 recommended ratios). Is this old school???

    1. Insulin levels will stay elevated for several hours post-workout, and especially in the presence of an adequate pre-workout meal, post-workout meal timing is not crucial. Furthermore, fat doesn't really blunt the insulin response to carb and protein.

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