Do You Need A “Recovery” Snack?

Trail Mix

In my last blog, I talked about pre-workout snacks but post-workout snacks are also worthy of discussion. Many people automatically assume they should eat a “recovery” snack after a fitness class or other activity. But is this really necessary or are you just eating all the calories you just burned?

Knowing when to snack
As with pre-workout snacks, if you just had a light to moderate workout, such as a walk or a short bike ride, you can probably skip a post-workout snack. If you exercised intensely for an hour or more, see how you feel and go from there. If you’re hungry or feel weak, have a small 100-200 calorie snack.

What snacks are best?
Choose real foods, such as a banana or a small handful of almonds. You don’t need expensive smoothies, shakes, bars or sport drinks. Many of these are full of artificial ingredients and some have as many calories as a meal.

Snacks for kids
The rules for workout snacks apply to kids as well. Avoid forcing snacks on your kids before, during or after their sporting events. Kid’s sports have become snack buffets and many times snacks are not needed, especially for younger kids who may spend more time learning basic skills rather than burning calories running around. Water is usually all they need unless it’s been several hours since their last meal. If they’re hungry, offer them a banana, orange, or other portable snack to tide them over until their next meal.

Through her Des Moines-based nutrition company, SK Health Communications, registered dietitian Stephanie Karpinske writes and develops recipes for magazines, books, supermarkets and food companies. She is the author of Read Before Dieting: Your 4-Step Plan for Diet Success and writes a blog about healthy eating, She’s coaching the Lehman family through the six-month Healthy Family Challenge.