DC has been ranked one of the fittest cities in America. There are gyms on every block and classes such as Core Power, SoulCycle and Nike Run Club all at our disposal. Unfortunately, though, so are the places calling our names for those inevitable post-gym binges. There’s a reason we feel like it’s okay to eat huge amounts of food after we exercise. Consistently overeating after a workout, however, isn’t the best way to refuel your body.
After a new or difficult workout, our bodies naturally want to recover by keeping our energy storage full. For every 10 calories we burn, we are expected to crave 3 so that our bodies stay properly fueled. However, we tend to eat 11-20 calories per 10 we burn after a workout, thinking of it as a validated reward.
Eating shouldn’t be a reward for working out, just like eating shouldn’t be a reward for anything. Here are some non-food rewards for fitness and weight loss that are just as motivating. Most people also assume we burn more calories than we actually do while working out—this means people tend to eat even more to overcompensate the work they put in.
Although chowing down on everything in your fridge after working out is undeniably tempting, it’s relatively simple and easy to eat more mindfully. The first thing you can do is follow these simple guidelines to prevent the onset of those munchies. For when they come calling, though, this list of both pre- and post-workout snacks will help keep you looking and feeling your healthiest throughout the day.
Strength training: anything focusing on muscles, such as weight training or Body Pump
Pre-workout: Most of your pre-workout calories should come from carbs, while 25% should be protein such as an egg-white omelet or a smoothie with protein powder, soy or skim milk and fruits such as mangoes, peaches and pineapples. Greek yogurt with fruit and nuts is also a great snack before most workouts. For more, get inspired with these recipes from Workout Plan.
Post-workout: A protein shake is your best bet (Pure Protein, found at Trader Joe’s, is a personal favorite). Drinking a shake within 2 hours of a strength-training workout will help build muscle. More muscle building munchies include half an avocado stuffed with cottage cheese and tomato, salad with lean chicken breast or really any lean proteins such as eggs, fish, chicken, turkey, Greek yogurt and cottage cheese.
Cardio means carbs, carbs, carbs. But incorporating a steady supply of fiber and protein is important to prevent fatigue.
Pre-workout: Healthy and filling carbs like hot cereal with raisins, nuts and honey, scrambled egg whites in a pita with apples or a Greek yogurt parfait filled with fruits and granola are all great options. Cliff bars are an easy, on-the-go solution, too. Check out these recipes and tips from pro cyclist Ally Stacher.
Post-workout: Water! Hydrating is key after an exhaustive workout. Post-workout snacks should include hearty whole grains, fruits like bananas and apples and veggies. If you’re looking for more of a meal, a healthy combo of carbs and protein such as quinoa with grilled chicken is also a great way to refuel from your workout.
Yoga: HelWel Yoga, Core Power Yoga, Georgetown Yoga
Water, water, water—hydrating is extremely important. Bring water to your class and make sure to stay hydrated before and after.
Pre-yoga: Light, nutritious snacks eaten about an hour before it’s time to hit the mat will help your body fuel for your workout. Look for snacks like almonds, full-fat Greek yogurt and dried fruits. Bananas are always a good call, as well avocados and any water-rich fruits.
Post-yoga: Refuel within 30-60 minutes after class and look for a combination of lean proteins and a small amount of carbs. Protein shakes always work, but also consider hard-boiled eggs, sweet potatoes, apple slices with almond butter or edamame. If you’re interested in taking this one step further, check out these healthy eating recipes and plans from Yoga Journal.
Try these before and after your next workout and you’ll be on your way to achieving all those fitness goals!