Losing weight requires you to change both your activity level and caloric intake. Exercise uses up energy, and following a workout, your body needs to refuel. What you eat is vital to dropping pounds, however. Eating the wrong foods can add calories to your daily diet and interfere with your weight loss goals. Conversely, eating the right snacks will boost your energy while maintaining your healthy diet. Talk to your doctor before beginning an exercise program.
The key to maintaining your post-workout energy level lies in replenishing the glycogen stored in your muscles. Glycogen is the fuel that helps keep muscle going. Eating complex carbohydrates is the primary way to create more glycogen, as reported by Columbia University. Foods to consider as post-workout snacks include whole grains, starchy vegetables and fruits. For example, a granola bar or baked potato will help replenish the glycogen you lost during your exercise. For best results, your snack should contain between 50 and 200 grams of carbs and be consumed within an hour after you exercise.
The ultimate snack food will have both complex carbohydrates and protein. Protein is the building block for tissue, making it a necessary component in rebuilding muscles damaged during exercise. Although a primary source of protein is meat, other foods rich in this crucial nutrient include nuts and beans. Choosing snacks that contain both carbohydrates and protein will improve your energy levels and nourish the body with the nutrients it needs to recover from a workout. Aim to consume at least 6 grams of protein in your snack.
Fat is often considered unnecessary in a healthy eating plan, but the truth is that your body needs some amount of fat to maintain a balanced diet. In particular, when you eat fats in moderation, you help increase your energy levels after a workout. Fat also serves as a transport mechanism for certain nutrients. Foods that contain healthy fats include nuts, flaxseed and small amounts of fish, such as tuna. While you should rely on low-fat foods as the basis of your meals, you also should include some fat in your snacks, especially those enjoyed after a workout.
Your ideal snack food will contain complex carbohydrates, protein and even some fat. However, since weight loss is a goal, you want to limit all nonessential calories. To that end, consider enjoying protein shakes or bars that are low in calories but high in essential nutrients following every workout. For a homemade variation, combine half a banana or wheat cracker with a dollop of peanut butter or create your own smoothie from fruit, milk and whey protein. A trail mix containing seeds will help increase your energy level, as will a cup of yogurt with a tablespoon of granola on top. For weight loss, keep your caloric load between 200 to 400 for your snack.