Choosing the right post-workout snack is an important part of your fitness routine.
As big a part of my life as the IT world is, it’s not the only thing I think about. I also happen to be an avid fitness enthusiast! I believe exercise and wellness are big parts of leading a happy, healthy, and successful life, and I’d like to pass that on to you.
In this series, I’ll share simple and effective tips and insight for leading a healthier life. Keep these in mind, and you’ll be surprised by how soon you feel a difference!
This week I’ll be sharing a few of the benefits of choosing apples as your post-workout snack.
Hitting the gym before work is a great way to start your day, but if you’re not giving your body what it needs right after you finish your workout, you’ll be in for a very long morning. That post-workout high only lasts so long, so giving yourself a balanced dose of carbohydrates, vitamins, fiber, and electrolytes is really important. Not only does it keep you feeling great, but the right snack can help your muscles recover faster.
Apples are a fantastic option for giving yourself all of those things in one easy and tasty food. When it comes to planning ahead and making sure you’ve got something healthy on hand to munch on after you hit the showers, there are few things more convenient than an apple. How many other foods can you think of that don’t need to be peeled, chopped, or combined with other ingredients in order to be eaten? An apple is just fine as-is, making it the perfect thing to toss into your bag on the way out the door.
Fruits tend to get a bad rap in the fitness world due to their sugar content, but as with just about any other food, it’s all about when and how much you eat of a specific item that dictates how beneficial it is. Apples have a high carbohydrate content, most of which is made up of glucose. Glucose is what your body uses for energy, so when you’ve just burned off a ton of energy working out, you need to give your muscles a source of glucose to refuel with. Apples also happen to rank lower on the glycemic index than a lot of other fruits, meaning they’re one of the least sugary fruits.
Sugars and carbs are important for recovery in the short term, but vitamins and electrolytes are just as important in the long term. Apples are a good source of vitamin C and potassium, both of which are important to your overall health. Aside from boosting your immune system, vitamin C helps build and maintain connective tissues like muscle.
Finally, apples are good for cutting down on post-workout hunger thanks to their fiber content. High-fiber foods leave you feeling fuller for longer, so an apple – preferably with the skin still on – will stave off hunger a little longer than a low fiber option. Plus, the skin contains something called ursolic acid, which helps increase skeletal muscle and burn fat.
Different varieties will have slightly different sugar, vitamin, and ursolic acid content, but which variety you choose to eat can be based on personal preference. One apple isn’t strictly better than the other, so if you’ve got a favorite variety you tend to grab each time you visit the grocery store, stick with it. When you’re already making changes to your routine and eating habits, having something familiar as a core component will make sticking with that new habit a lot easier. Plus, when it’s something you already enjoy eating, your morning apple will feel a little more like a treat.
Combining apples with other low fat, high protein foods is a great way to cover all of your nutritional bases. Cottage cheese or low fat, low sugar yogurt and an apple make a great breakfast. If your workout routine puts you more in afternoon snack territory, try lean turkey and few slices of low-fat cheddar. Chopped apple or sugar-free applesauce are also great additions to a protein smoothie.
The key is to eat your post-workout snack as soon as possible and make sure you’re drinking plenty of water along with it. The more of a sweat you work up, the more dehydrated you’ll be. Apples can help with hydration, but having a glass or two of water along with your fruit is always a good idea. Just as important, you’ll want to treat your snack as just that – a snack. Something nutritional to hold you over until lunch or dinner time rolls around.