Finding the perfect post-workout snack can be an area of confusion for many students aiming toward building muscle or burning fat. Dietary restrictions can further misguide food choices after a workout, which are critical in repairing muscle tissues and replenishing glycogen stores depleted after strenuous exercise. Snacks high in carbohydrates, moderate in protein, and low in fat are recommended within 30 minutes of exercise when the body is primed and ready to accept these nutrients and put them to good use. However, this task can sometimes seem unachievable for vegetarians who may already find difficulty fulfilling their daily protein needs alone. Gym junkie, Jaleh Kermani, a freshman nutrition and dietetics major at Syracuse University, offers some great advice about vegetarian post-workout snacks and how to access them.
“If you’re a recently turned vegetarian and are struggling to find options in the dining halls, I highly recommend utilizing high protein foods such as legumes, brown rice, quinoa, eggs, tofu, and Greek yogurt. Once you start getting creative with your meals it becomes easier and easier. Find meals you enjoy and stick to them,” says Kermani.
This daily exercise guru especially loves quinoa and steamed vegetables from the dining hall or egg whites paired with a quinoa cottage cheese salad with spinach. Additional vegetarian snacks sold in the SU bookstore and local supermarkets include whey or hemp protein powder added to milk to create a delicious protein shake, or protein bars such as Quest Bars and Think Thin Bars. “My favorite Quest bar flavor is definitely the chocolate chip cookie dough and my favorite Think Thin bar is the high protein creamy peanut butter,” says Kermani.
Below you can find five additional snack suggestions that are simple, yet delicious:
- Cheese and an Apple
This savory and sweet combination contains a lot of fiber, protein, and antioxidants. Choose a medium sized apple of any variety with a low-fat string cheese you can portion out for an equal amount of apple and cheese in every bite.
- Greek Yogurt and Fruit
Not everyone is a fan of plain Greek yogurt on its own, but that’s why it’s a great idea to pair it with some sweet fruit such as berries or melon to both satisfy your taste buds and incorporate carbohydrates, fiber, and vitamins. A variety of different fruits are offered in the dining halls so get creative! If plain Greek yogurt is not available, open up a cup of pre-packaged fruit-on-the-bottom Greek yogurt and scoop out the top of the container.
- Chocolate Milk
Low-fat chocolate milk has the perfect carbohydrate to protein ratio. Exercise scientists say this recovery drink is most useful for competing athletes in need of sustaining a constant level of performance like long-distance runners, cyclists, swimmer, and triathletes. Another perk about drinking chocolate milk is that it can be portable, and extremely convenient.
- Eggs and Hummus
Want to workout in the evening? No problem! The dining halls almost always close the omelet bar by lunchtime, which means you should utilize the salad bar at night. Take two sliced halves of hard-boiled eggs and spread each side with one tablespoon of your favorite flavor of hummus. The yolk of the egg contains crucial amino acids that aid in muscle repair. Another way to spice up this snack is by adding chopped chives or red pepper flakes for heat.
- Simple Trail Mix
A quarter cup of dry roasted nuts tossed with raisins, dried cranberries, cherries, or blueberries are a great way to obtain antioxidants after a workout. Although not regularly spotted in the dining halls, pistachio nuts are particularly helpful because they are rich in potassium, an electrolyte lost through perspiration. Try to avoid M&Ms and chocolate chips instead adding coconut or cinnamon to your portable pouch.
Always remember to put your workout in perspective when choosing a snack by consuming a substantial amount of food without becoming too indulgent. Play around with these post-workout ideas and make sure to listen to your body.
By Allison Milch