As a busy college student about to enter into midterms, I can barely find enough time to fit working out into my schedule, let alone have enough time to think of and prepare post work out snacks. However, it is important to give some thought to post workout snacks and meals because eating the right things after working out is almost is important as the workout itself. 

Getting to Know the Science

working out, outdoors, outside, workout, two girls, squats, Friends, exercise, grass
Julia Gilman

Before understanding what to eat post workout, you first have to understand what actually happens to your body during and after working out. After burning through all your free glucose, your muscles begin to break down glycogen that was previously stored for fuel. After your muscles' glycogen stores are burned through, your body turns to covering protein for energy

Incorporating carbohydrates and protein into your diet both pre and post workout will help spare your protein stores to help reach your fitness goals. Post workout, muscles attempt to rebuild the glycogen that they have lost and regrow their proteins.

Balancing Your Macros

cereal, bread, wheat, rye, flour, wheat bread, grain
Jasmine Chan

Some healthy carbs to consider eating post workout include sweet potatoes, rice, rice cakes, and oatmeals. Make sure to stick to whole grains to slow glucose release and keep your blood sugar stable. Loading up with fruits and vegetables will help fill out your diet with things like antioxidants and vitamins. These will give you a natural energy boost and act as fuel all day long.

guacamole, sweet, vegetable, avocado
Jessica Kelly

Including carbs, healthy fats and protein in your meals and snacks helps your metabolism to have energy to burn and materials to build with. Giving your body these things also quickens recovery and increases lean mass. Healthy fats should also be eaten in moderation post workout; avocado, nut butters, and nuts are some great healthy fats to snack on. 

You should plan to eat within 45 minutes of finishing your workout in order to reap the most nutritional and muscle benefits.

meat, pepper, vegetable
Tiare Brown

Some lean protein sources that your muscles need to grow are chicken, turkey, salmon or tuna all of which pair well with kale, spinach or sweet potatoes. Other substantial sources of protein are Greek yogurt and cottage cheese; these will heal you, hit your protein and calcium requirements.

A quinoa bowl packed with your favorite vegetables is an easy, vegan to-go option for meal prepping ahead of time. All of these provide healthy carbs, fiber, vitamins and minerals to accompany your protein rich meal.

Building a Better Breakfast

meat, croque madame, dairy product, fried egg, vegetable, toast, bread, egg yolk, egg
Julia Maguire

After an early morning workout, eggs and whole grain toast is a quick and easy, protein filled breakfast before starting your day. Eggs provide a source of complete protein, while the whole grain toast provides fiber that will slow digestion and keep you fuller longer. Adding avocado to the toast adds healthy fats to this meal to keep you feeling satisfied all morning

Powerful Lunches and Dinners

chicken breast, sauce, meat, vegetable, chicken
Michelle Rodriguez

The best way to get the right distribution of macro's to help your body rest and recover is to combine nutritious values into powerful meals. Grilled chicken is one of the leanest sources of protein on the market; pairing this with a carbohydrate, a vegetable and a healthy fat makes for a perfectly balanced meal.

Mindful Snacking

raisin, cranberry, almond, nut
Tiare Brown

If you're not ready for a full meal directly after working out, there are also some great snack options you can choose from. Greek yogurt topped with honey and fruit is high in protein, fat and carbohydrates. Greek yogurt can easily be substituted for oatmeal or cottage cheese.

Trail mix is made by combining nuts and dried fruit and has the same nutritional effect by providing all of the essential macronutrients in every handful. Topping rice cakes or whole grain toast with nut butters is an easy option to eat on the go. 

Hydrate, Hydrate, Hydrate

fitness, Health, water bottle
Carolyne Su

Always remember to drink water before and after a workout. Water is the key to almost all metabolic functions that happen in the body and without it your body will not be able to transport nutrients or chemical signals. Replenishing the water lost after a workout will greatly help your body with recovery. 

It's All About Moderation

pickle, salt, herb, oil, garlic, vinegar
Bernard Wen

Eating the correct foods after working out is essential to ensuring that your body will recover. Consuming foods high in protein, carbs, and healthy fats will ensure that you'll be able to see ample results.

Listen to your body, and don't forget to indulge something sweet every once in awhile. Staying on track with your goals can be hard, but planning ahead and making your health a priority will make putting your plan into action a little bit easier.