When is the best time to refuel after a tough workout? According to sports nutrition pro—and former wellness director for the U.S. Coast Guard—James Dubberly of East Burnside's Whole Body Fitness, "you've got about a 40 minute window of opportunity right after a workout to replenish muscle glycogen stores (aka the sugar/fuel stored in your muscles). If you take in a relatively simple carbohydrate right after a workout, it can really speed up and enhance recovery time so that you will have more energy for your next gym session." Further research shows that taking in a small amount of protein right after a workout may increase protein synthesis—connected to muscle recovery and repair—as well. "The bottom line," according to Dubberly, "is you want to try to hit that 40-minute window to take full advantage of its effect, and the one time you actually want to eat simple carbohydrates is right after your workout."
To get inspired to snack healthy after working up a sweat, we polled some of Portland's fitness and nutrition pros to find out what they nosh on to refuel.
"My go to is usually a smoothie. I'm currently mixing: matcha, spirulina, coconut milk, hemp protein, and peanut butter. This is super-fulling and so so good. And, when I want a treat I'm digging the new Back To Eden food cart on SE Division."—Jamie Silverstein, owner of The Grinning Yogi
"Powdered peanut butter (4 Tbsp + water) mixed with a half cup of old-fashioned oats with a sprinkle of cinnamon and a splash of vanilla extract. It takes 60 seconds to make, provides 14 grams of protein and 6 grams of fiber! This makes it easy to refuel within the optimum window and gets me through for an hour or two until I can eat a full meal."—Megan Fuetterer, spin instructor at Revocycle, founder of Zest Nutrition, and Registered Dietitian at OHSU
"For a post-workout snack (within 60 minutes after a workout), I love a cheese stick and fresh fruit. I like to stick to the 4:1 ratio (4 part carbs/1 part protein) for a post workout snack. If I have extra time, the Eisenhart protein drink from Kure!"—Pro trainer Kisar Dhillon of Southeast Portland's the Art of Personal Training
"One little-known recovery drink that has the perfect ratio of carbohydrate to protein is low fat or non fat chocolate milk. It's cheap and it tastes good."—James Dubberly of Whole Body Fitness
"Mine's less of a snack and more of a meal—always whole foods, some kind of meat with vegetables and good fats—because the body is in a higher state of protein synthesis after a hard workout, and I like to take advantage of that. Also, as I tell all of my clients, don't skip breakfast! It sets you up for a great workout to begin with."—Wyatt Briggs, master trainer at LA Fitness-Pearl and blogger at StrengthShark.com
"Hydration is key, but don't just drink water make sure to get in some additional electrolytes! As far as food goes its important to refuel the body with some carbohydrates, like whole grain bread topped with honey. Fresh fruit is an excellent choice not only for some quick carbs but also for hydration (eat the whole fruit or make a smoothie—you need that fiber, don't just drink fruit juice which can be too high in concentrated sugar. In addition some protein intake is key after a workout, your muscle is primed and ready, and protein will stimulate muscle growth and repair. I add protein powder to a fruit smoothie, or slam some bananas and peanut butter."—Will Moroski, BurnCycle master trainer and instructor
"After an intense Pyrolates workout at Firebrand Sports, I’m so grateful to be able to go out to our lobby at Firebrand and grab a Dharma green juice from Portland Juice Co. Loaded with spinach, parsley, kale, celery, apple and lemon, it is the perfect drink that both quenches and replenishes...and makes you feel great!"—Sara Stimac, owner & CEO, Firebrand Sports
"Between classes, I always reach for toasted soy nuts or sliced apples and cheese cubes. Another one of my favorites is mashed black beans inside half an avocado with sriracha drizzled on top, but I'm also a big fan of Greek yogurt with sliced almonds and honey."—Ally Coucke, owner of Pure Barre Portland-Pearl
"I like to drink a ton of water since I don't drink water while teaching. Then about 30-60 minutes after class I have a light snack like a Kind bar or fruit. An hour or so later, I am ready for lunch which is often a kale or chicken salad."—Dionne Del Carlo, co-owner and instructor at StarCycle
"My go-to post workout meal is a chocolate cold brew protein smoothie which includes almond milk, coconut water, banana, vega chocolate protein powder, cacao nibs, cold brew, and ice. I also love almond butter on apples and Larabars for when I'm on the go!—Jamie King, founder of SweatGuru, FitApproach
"I like meat/veggies/sweet potato variations—like a big green salad with roasted chicken, cauliflower, carrots, (ALL THE VEGGIES) then sweet potato... drizzled with olive oil and vinegar!"—Paisley Meekin, owner of Honest Personal Training
"After a workout, I focus on the following things: 1. Hydration! Some kind of electrolyzed water (coconut water, lemon water) to get my hydration in check. 2. Fat and protein: a scoop of peanut butter is like instant relief for my muscles and energy level. 3. Immune System: After a big workout we sweat which means we detox, hard. I want to replenish all stores of nutrients so my body can get right into healing—I love a good hardy smoothie with kale, apple juice, half a banana, almond or peanut butter, and some ice to make it refreshingly cold!"—Skylor Powell, wellness author, health coach at Sprout, and yoga instructor
"It depends on your body type, but I try to always eat an Indian-type curry with lentils, full of ingredients like ginger and turmeric to help with the inflammation that follows an all out run such as the Spartan Race or the Portland Marathon."—Mark Edgar, bootcamp instructor and Precision Nutrition Certified Personal Trainer at Fulcrum Fitness
How about before your workout?
"The most important thing to consider in a pre-exercise meal is digestibility. If the meal is large or complex, it takes more energy and blood flow to digest....energy and blood flow you need for your workout! For short bouts (less than 1 hour) of high intensity exercise, fuel up with a simple carbohydrate, like fruit. Dates, bananas, papaya and mango are all good choices. Your body can break it down into glucose without much effort, making it readily accessible fuel. Avoid too much protein before exercise. Protein is for building muscle, not fueling it, and is better post-workout."—Stephanie Worth, wellness director and instructor at BurnCycle