The Grapevine

Post-Workout Nutrition: How To Pick The Right Snacks

Picking snacks after a workout has been a widely discussed topic in terms of the "what" but a new study from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln decided to explore another aspect — when exactly should you decide on your choice of snack?

Indeed, the timing of your decision could influence the decision itself. Nebraska researchers Karsten Koehler and Christopher Gustafson led a simple experiment to demonstrate this.

Two groups of participants were given the choice between an apple, a chocolate brownie, or no post-workout snack at all. The difference? One group was asked to decide before their workout while the other group was asked to decide after their workout.

 The apple was chosen by 74 percent of those who were asked pre-workout compared to 55 percent of those who were asked after their workout. In other words, the more your delay the decision, the more likely you are to indulge in something less nutritious.

"If your goal is to lose weight, then I would say our findings support that you’re better off making the choice... not when you’re hungry after your workout, but instead before you go to the gym," said Koehler, who is an assistant professor in the Department of Nutrition and Health Sciences.

Yet, interestingly, certain individuals might deal with the opposite effect. Research has suggested that some people experience exercise-induced anorexia — when someone feels less hungry after a workout due to the suppression of appetite-related hormones.

Either way, you should definitely drink enough water and eat something within 30 minutes following a workout, ensuring that your body refuels and recovers. While it is not harmful to skip now and then, regularly doing so can affect your workouts and overall health.

"Some people will just feel fatigue, and some people can get disoriented from low blood sugar," Jennifer Beck, sports medicine specialist and pediatric orthopedist at the University of California, Los Angeles, told SELF.

You should ideally consume snacks that provide a combination of high-quality protein and carbohydrates. While the carbs give you the much-needed energy boost, the protein helps in repairing your muscles. Oatmeal, for instance, is an excellent choice and can also be customized accordingly. If your workout was particularly intense, dietitians recommend adding dried or fresh fruit.

You may also consider sweet potato which, aside from the aforementioned nutrients, offers dietary fiber, calcium, magnesium, vitamins A, C, and B-6. According to Forbes, the complex carbs "keep you fueled for hours," while the magnesium helps in strengthening bones and keeping muscles in good condition.

Greek yogurt, another popular choice, also has one of the best nutritional profiles to benefit your muscles. "A Greek yogurt parfait provides you with not only protein and carbs for rebuilding and refueling but also plenty of antioxidants to aid in muscle recovery," Lindsey Pine, a Los Angeles-based dietitian, told Prevention.