For fitness enthusiasts who brave outdoor winter workouts, suffering can turn into joy when you have something to look forward to. Enter a warm, tasty, post-workout confection.
Whether you have a sweet tooth or simply need a comforting reward after a sub-zero run, these six post-workout snacks can heat you up:
IF YOU LOVE TRIFLE…
Try a stuffed sweet potato parfait
You get a mix of carbohydrates and protein, which are both necessary after a workout to “replenish muscle glycogen and rebuild proteins,” says Sarah Schlichter, MPH, RDN. This treat “also offers some antioxidants, which can help neutralize the free radicals that naturally occur through endurance exercise.”
To make, “microwave your sweet potato for 7–8 minutes and stuff it with Greek yogurt, peanut butter, granola and/or fruit or cereal.”
IF YOU LOVE APPLE COBBLER …
Try a healthy apple crumble recipe
This treat provides antioxidants and healthy fats to help you manage post-workout inflammation, as well as “a variety of simple and complex carbohydrates and a touch of protein to encourage muscle re-synthesis,” says Kim Feeney, RD, a certified specialist in sports dietetics.
For this quick, healthy, apple crumble recipe, “slice one medium apple and sprinkle with cinnamon and nutmeg. Top with 1/2 cup granola or 1/2 cup oats with 1–2 tablespoons of nuts. Microwave until apples are soft [about 3 minutes].”
IF YOU LOVE CHOCOLATE OR PEANUT BUTTER CUPS …
Try hot cocoa with a peanut butter twist
According to a study published in the Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition, when milk is consumed as a post-exercise recovery beverage, it is as effective (maybe even more so) than typical sports drinks you find in the grocery store. Plus, it can increase and rebuild muscles.
Like the other recipes above, this low-fat beverage combines carbohydrates and protein for tissue repair and muscle growth. Becky Kerkenbush, MS, RD, a member of the Wisconsin Academy of Nutrition & Dietetics, says, “this drink is also a good source of calcium, Vitamin D and phosphorus — all needed for healthy, strong bones.”
The recipe: “Make with skim milk, chocolate-flavored whey protein powder, cinnamon, nutmeg, peanut butter and cocoa powder.”
IF YOU LOVE SWEET AND SPICY TREATS …
Try a standard baked potato
For those with all-over-the-place palates, you can create a snack that caters to your unpredictable tastes using a standard baked potato. “The potatoes offer easy-to-digest carbohydrates plus a variety of vitamins and minerals, including more potassium than a banana,” Kerkenbush says.
You can even plan ahead for this treat. Feeney likes to keep boiled or baked potatoes ready in the refrigerator to heat up when she needs them. She says to top it with Greek yogurt (sweet) and a little chili powder (spicy).
IF YOU LOVE WARM PUDDING …
Try cream of wheat
This velvety porridge can help you fill up on lost carbohydrates. To Cream of Wheat, Kerkenbush says to “add vanilla, cinnamon and nutmeg to flavor. You can also add peanut butter or chocolate whey powder.” She suggests topping your treat with nuts and dried fruit or even an egg for extra protein.
Before splurging on sweets, make sure you familiarize yourself with cold-weather exercise fueling best practices.
Kerkenbush’s tips include:
- Drink adequate fluids.
- Avoid alcohol. It can dehydrate you and dilate your blood vessels, which can cause increased heat loss.
- Eat/drink your post-workout snack within 20–30 minutes of finishing your workout and definitely within an hour.
- Limit caffeine intake.
- Stay warm by consuming warm beverages and food.