How 10 fitness pros refuel their bodies for optimal results
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The body is inflamed and filled with lactic acid after an intense workout, so my primary goal is recovery, says Tamal Dodge, ERYT, a yoga instructor in Venice, California and star of Element: Hatha and Flow Yoga for Beginners DVD. Many people reach for protein after exercise, but since most protein is acidic, you're better off feeding your body something alkaline and anti-inflammatory, he says.
"I eat organic grapes or fruits that are alkaline, and I try to incorporate something that is really anti-inflammatory like turmeric," Dodge says. "I will make a smoothie with frozen bananas, berries, and a one-inch piece of turmeric with water and agave. About 20 or 30 minutes later, I will eat something high in protein, as my body is now ready to take in something acidic."
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Sunbutter and Dates
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"Dates are high in potassium, which is great to help revitalize post-workout and also helps to flush out any excess salt and water weight," says Laurel House, a certified personal trainer and author of QuickieChick's Cheat Sheet to Life, Love, Food, Fitness, Fashion, and Finance—on a Less-Than-Fabulous Budget. "You get the protein from the Sunbutter (which is made with sunflower seeds instead of nuts so it's perfect for people with allergies), and it's addicting-ly delicious!"
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Peanut Butter Banana Smoothie
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"My fave post-workout snack is also my pre-workout snack: I make a banana and peanut butter smoothie with protein powder, almond milk, and a touch of cinnamon, says Andrea Rogers, a certified Pilates instructor and creator of Xtend Barre. "I drink half on my way to the studio to boost my energy and the other half after my workout to rejuvenate my taxed body. Since it's protein-packed, it provides long-lasting energy, and the cinnamon helps to control blood sugar so I don't crash after my workout," Rogers says. "I also like to add in a handful of kale or spinach to add some minerals."
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"My favorite post-workout snack is a small bag of low-fat or fat-free popcorn with one scoop of chocolate whey protein powder (sprinkle it in after it comes out of the microwave and shake a few times)," says Marta Montenegro, an exercise physiologist and creator of the Montenegro Method DVD series. "Popcorn is one of the best whole-grain sources to replenish glycogen storage after working out, while the whey protein powder nourishes the muscles and assists with recovery. This snack fits the bill for both an endurance and a resistance type of workout."
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Apple with Almond Butter
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This post-workout snack delivers nutrients and protein, which is something I try to include in all my meals and snacks. After working my muscles, I want to now feed my muscles (rebuild), says Tamilee Webb fitness expert and star of the Classic Buns of Steel collection.
"I like to bite into something crunchy, and combining it with a little sweetness and texture gives me a filling snack and builds up my energy and muscles."
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"I like sweet potatoes as a post-workout snack because they are packed with vitamins and nutrients, including vitamins B6, C, D, iron, magnesium, and potassium," says Andrew Leonard, a certified trainer and expert for inerTRAIN, an online personal training service.
"A medium sweet potato is just about 100 calories, with 0g fat, 24g carbs, 4g fiber, and 2g protein. The carbs are great for replenishing your glycogen stores (stored carbs) after an intense bout of exercise," Leonard says. To make this post-workout snack complete, eat your potato with a good source of lean protein like a piece of grilled chicken.
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"This is what I eat after a quick afternoon workout," says Houston-based certified trainer Cari Shoemate. "I like them because I can keep them in my car and they don't melt; the protein helps muscle recovery too. In about one serving (22 almonds), you get 160 calories, 6g carbs, 6g protein, and about 3g fiber."
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My favorite post-workout snack is water-packed, canned sardines on low-sodium Triscuits, topped with Louisiana hot sauce, says Geoff Bagshaw, group fitness manager for EQUINOX Fitness Clubs in Florida. "[Sardines] contain lots of heart-healthy omega-3’s and are also loaded with calcium, along with having a full array of B vitamins, iron, magnesium, phosphorus, potassium, zinc, copper, and manganese," Bagshaw says. "The crackers provide dietary fiber and the hot sauce contains capsaicin, which some studies indicate may help to increase your metabolic rate, along with other benefits."
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"My favorite post-workout snack is honey flavored Greek yogurt from Chobani," says Amy Dixon, a celebrity trainer in Los Angeles and star of the Breathless Body DVD series. "I love this snack because it's nutrient-dense and has just the right amount of digestible protein to help restore and repair your muscles right after a workout."