When we finish up a tough workout or run, we often reach into our fridge for a postworkout snack that will curb our appetite. Ignoring our body’s craving for protein snacks to help repair our muscles, more often than not it can be a slice of leftover pepperoni pizza or scoop of ice cream. It might be a bowl of Lucky Charms cereal OR you might have a stronger will: that banana on the counter— and that slice of leftover pizza. Go health!
Runners, and really any aspiring athlete should look for high-protein snacks or foods to aid in the adaptation and recovery to training; especially following a workout.
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The United States Department of Agriculture suggests that women aged 31-50 aim for 46 grams of protein per day, while men in that same age group should aim for 56 grams of protein daily. According to the International Society of Sports Nutrition, however, athletes need more protein per day. Their recommendation is for athletes to aim for between .45 to .72 grams per pound per day.
Protein is a critical macronutrient for athletes and works in the body in a myriad of ways. It plays a part in blood clotting, hydration, cell repair and also helps repair tissue. Make sure you remember that last one if nothing else. Going HAM in the gym and not feeding your body with the protein it needs to adapt to the increased training stimulus you are putting your body through will just leave you tired, sore, and dissatisfied with your progress.
Here are some go-to protein snacks to try for your next postworkout bite or 3 p.m. hunger call.
- Cottage cheese
What it’s filled with: Protein, vitamin B-12, and calcium
How to eat it: Pair it with your favorite fruit for a quick snack or whip in 1 scoop of vanilla protein powder, 1 Tbsp. cocoa powder, a ¼ tsp. of vanilla, and top with granola or banana for a protein-packed bowl.
Protein: 25 grams per cup
Calories: 222 calories per cup
What it’s filled with: Protein, calcium, potassium and vitamin D
How to eat it: Try to reach for low-fat yogurt and stay away from ones that pack a lot of sugar and flavoring. Instead, top your yogurt with fresh fruit. For a summer treat, blend yogurt with 1 cup of milk, bananas, 2 Tbsps. Cocoa powder, 2 Tbsps. Peanut butter, 1 Tbsp. honey and 1 tsp. of vanilla extract for a yummy popsicle.
Protein: 12 grams per cup
Calories: ~250 calories per cup of low-fat yogurt
What it’s filled with: Protein, iron and B-vitamins
How to eat it: Boil the edamame until bright green and salt and pepper to taste. Research shows that soy protein lowers the risk of cancer and heart disease.
Protein: ~9 grams of protein per ½ cup
Calories: ~100 calories per ½ cup
- String Cheese
What it’s filled with: Protein and calcium
How to eat it: String cheese is pretty self-explanatory to eat, but you can pair it with fruit for an extra helping of vitamins.
Protein: 9 grams in 1 nonfat stick
Calories: 42 calories in 1 nonfat stick
- Peanut Butter
What it’s filled with: Vitamin B-6, Iron, Magnesium, Potassium
How to eat it: Lots of people prefer to eat right out of the jar, but a sandwich or peanut butter spread on a bagel is an easy way to get a bite of protein. Staple of many recovery protein snacks- mix peanut butter, protein powder, oats and milk for a great tasting, mass gaining recovery shake!
Protein: 8 grams per 2 tbsp.
Calories: 188 calories per 2 tbsp.
- Chocolate Milk
What it’s filled with: Vitamin D, Calcium
How to drink it: Again, chocolate milk needs no instruction, but try to drink low-fat to cut back on calories. This cold drink will give you a boost of protein and carbohydrates after a hot run or workout.
Protein: 8 grams per cup
Calories: 209 calories per cup
What it’s filled with: Protein, Vitamin B-12 and B-6
How to eat it: Canned tuna is OK for protein snacks. Spread it over bread for a sandwich or onto a tortilla with avocado for a wrap.
Protein: 39 grams per can
Calories: 179 calories per can
What it’s filled with: Riboflavin, Magnesium, Vitamin E
How to eat it: Grab a handful of whole almonds for a quick snack. If you want to sweeten them up, add in a tbsp. of natural maple syrup and ½ tsp. of cinnamon to 1 cup of almonds and bake.
Protein: 6 grams per ounce
Calories: 163 calories per ounce
- Trail mix
What it’s filled with: Iron, Magnesium, Potassium, Vitamin E
How to eat it: Trail mixes come in all ranges. Mix one up that has sunflower seeds for a salty kick, almonds (covered in chocolate if you like) for a crunch, and dried cranberries or blueberries.
What it’s filled with: Riboflavin, Phosphorus, Selenium
How to eat it: Make a turkey wrap or sandwich for an easy snack that packs a lot of protein.
Protein: ~4 grams per slice
Calories: 22 calories per slice
What it’s filled with: Protein, fiber, magnesium
How to eat it: Cook up a nutty flavored bunch of quinoa for a snack or add in a little maple syrup or nuts for a different flavor.
Protein: 8 grams per cup
Calories: 222 per cup
What it’s filled with: Protein, zinc
How to eat it: Look out for the sodium content in jerky protein snacks. It can be great for replenishing lost electrolytes after a tough workout, but too much can be a bad thing.
Protein: 7 grams per piece
Calories: 82 calories per piece
- Hardboiled egg
What it’s filled with: Vitamin D and B-12
How to eat it: These are so easy to make, and with a dash a salt, you can replenish some much-needed electrolytes. They are also filled with good fats that keep your heart healthy.
Protein: 6 grams
Calories: 78 calories
- Protein bars
What it’s filled with: Protein, fiber
How to eat it: Look for protein bars that keep the sugar content low and have high fiber contents. Try to steer clear of bars with partially or fully hydrogenated oils, artificial sweeteners or high fructose corn syrup.
Calories: ~210 calories
What it’s filled with: Fiber, Magnesium, Copper
How to eat it: Pair hummus with your favorite vegetables for a tasty and healthy snack. Also, look for hummus with low sodium levels and low fat. It’s a great alternative afternoon snack.
Protein: ~5 grams per ¼ cup
Calories: ~102 calories per ¼ cup