Healthy Homemade Snacks to Enjoy On the Way Home From the Gym
Unh, get your freekeh on. Sorry, Missy Elliot, we just had to. What is it? Well, it's basically a fancy name for whole wheat. Freekeh is also spelled "farik" or "frik" sometimes. Is it a new food? Not really — it's actually an ancient grain. Freekeh is one of Joel Harper's favorite snacks. If you like bulgur and farro, try freekeh; you can use it in much the same way by working it into a healthy salad.
Bonnie Taub-Dix recommends chocolate milk because it has "protein, carbs, and nine essential nutrients," but make sure to go for the unsweetened kind to keep out the empty refined sugar calories. It's best to make this at home using some cocoa powder and milk. The trick to keep lumps from forming is to mix just a small amount of cocoa powder and milk, about 1-2 tablespoons of cocoa powder with 1 tablespoon milk, really hard until it comes together. Then, add another cup of milk and mix. Voilà.
Frances Largeman-Roth notes that your body is "usually in a lot of oxidative stress" after a workout, meaning it's also a good idea to work some antioxidant-rich foods into your snacks. She likes goji berries, a red-orange berry from China, which are a good source of not just antioxidants, but also carbohydrates and protein. Other antioxidant-rich foods such as blueberries and pomegranate are good choices as well.
"You should not eat fat." That's one of the most commonly held myths about diet according to Taub-Dix. But eating foods rich in healthy fats like nuts and avocado in moderation is actually a great way to stay satiated while picking up some other nutrients, such as protein, iron, calcium, magnesium, and vitamin E. Plus, Taub-Dix argues, many fat-free versions of popular snack items have the same number of calories as their full-fat versions. Because they're fat-free, people think that they can eat more of them, leading them to consume more calories than if they ate the full-fat versions.
Credit: Amie Valpone
Plain nonfat Greek yogurt has just 100 calories per 6-ounce serving, and contains 18 grams of protein as well as 20 percent of your recommended daily value of calcium. Give Greek yogurt an additional protein and fiber boost with some healthy nuts, says Largeman-Roth. She usually adds about seven walnuts to a serving of Greek yogurt. It's also a good source of vitamin B12, which is why it's one of 9 Brain-Boosting Foods.
Try cutting jicama into matchsticks and tossing them with a bit of lime juice and cayenne. Jicama doesn't have "a whole lot of flavor," says Largeman-Roth (hence the lime juice and cayenne), but it does have a lot of crunch and fiber, making it a satisfying snack that will quell hunger pangs. Plus, cayenne is one of the 5 Foods to Boost Your Metabolism. For some other spicy suggestions, click here to see 10 Spicy Dishes to Boost Your Metabolism.
Time for a little word association. We say avocado — you say: guacamole. At least, that's what we think most people would say. But forget about guacamole for a moment, which usually requires the waist-enlarging input of tortilla chips, unless you're having this Edamame Guacamole with vegetable sticks. Largeman-Roth actually likes to blend up a smoothie made from ripe avocado and skim milk with a touch of cinnamon, which is another one of the 5 Foods to Boost Your Metabolism.
We're not talking about Frosted Flakes or other sugary cereals, of course, but rather ones based on whole grains without added sugar. Taub-Dix really likes snacks that are "concentrated in calories that do a whole lot at once," meaning that they're a good source of protein, carbohydrates, and essential vitamins and minerals. So one snack she likes to whip up is some cereal in skim milk, together with some sliced almonds and dried fruit on top. The key to making this work, of course, is moderation.
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What should you eat after a workout? After a good run, a grunt-inducing weightlifting session, or an intense yoga class, even if you don't "feel the burn," your body needs to replenish its reserves and rebuild. But there's just so much advice out there about what you can't have, some of which is good, some of which is bad — "cut out the carbs," "don't eat fat," and New York City's claim to dietary infamy, "lose the soda," — that we decided to flip the discussion on its head and talk about what you can have. And we've busted a few myths, while we were at it.
We consulted a panel of health and fitness experts to help get some good, basic advice.
Joel Harper is a model turned celebrity personal trainer with 18 years of experience. His clients include Dr. Oz and Jason Read (Olympic gold medalist and world record-breaker in rowing) as well as actors and musicians. Harper has made been featured in O, The Oprah Magazine and Esquire, as well as on Good Morning America, Larry King Live, and of course, The Dr. Oz Show. Harper made some great general recommendations to keep in mind about healthy eating habits:
Have a snack no later than 30 minutes after the end of a workout, since your body is in need of protein and carbohydrates; waiting too long could send you into a panic mode, grabbing the first thing you see, which may not be the healthiest choice.
In general, consuming small meals throughout the day is better than three large ones because it keeps up your metabolism, keeps blood sugar levels constant, and eliminates hunger pangs.
Drink more water — Harper recommends drinking half your weight in water each day.
Hold off on catching the zzz's — your last meal should be no later than three to four hours before going to bed.
Bonnie Taub-Dix, R.D., CDN, runs a nutrition consulting practice and currently writes for US News & World Report. She has served as a representative to the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics (formerly the American Dietetic Association). She is also the author of Read It Before You Eat It and has been featured on Good Morning America, The TODAY Show, and Anderson Cooper 360. Taub-Dix recommends keeping a food diary with amounts. Why amounts? Well, because having amounts keeps you accountable; without amounts, it's far too easy to get off track.
And Frances Largeman-Roth is a registered dietitian, and contributor and representative for Cooking Light. She is the co-author of the CarbLovers Diet book series as well as other popular health and wellness books. Largeman-Roth has worked at Health magazine, Discovery Health Channel, and Foodfit.com. She had a number of great recommendations for post-workout snacks that will help you keep things in balance and feeling top-notch after a workout. To see what these experts had to say, read on in the slideshow.
To view healthy and homemade post-workout snacks, Check out the slideshow above!