This guest post is written by Leigh Merotto, Master’s in Nutrition Communication candidate and athlete at Ryerson University.
Looking for recovery snacks for plant-based athletes? If you are someone who trains and/or competes in a sport or a range of sports, you likely want to get the most benefit out of your workouts. You train hard, dedicate the time, and you want to see yourself getting stronger and faster as a result. Sure, you probably already know that pushing yourself physically to new limits can help you to achieve this. But did you know that how and when you refuel with nutrition after your training sessions and competitions is another crucial piece of enhancing your performance?
This is where recovery snacks come in! If your aim is to build and/or maintain muscle mass and improve your performance when training with moderate to high intensity sessions, your recovery nutrition is an essential factor to consider.
In simple terms, recovery nutrition involves a beverage, meal, or snack consumed shortly after a training session or competition. Ideally, it should contain a source of protein and carbohydrate, vitamins and minerals. Since athletes are often short on time, snacks make the ideal option to ensure that your body gets the nutrition it needs. Plus, it is fun to snack.
Why is recovery nutrition so important?
During moderate to high intensity exercise, the body’s natural energy stores, such as glycogen, a carbohydrate molecule stored in the liver and muscle cells gets used up and needs to be replenished. In addition, muscle fibers are broken down and need to be rebuilt and repaired. While this process is generally good and can lead to an increase in strength and metabolic adaptation, it is essential that your body receives the nutrition it needs to do so.
Before you launch into packing your bag full of snacks, take some time to evaluate your goals. Are you looking to train hard and maximize performance? Or are you looking to keep fit and have fun? For the average active individual, the body will naturally repair itself in time and having a snack or meal after every workout isn’t crucial.
For you athletes who train multiple days in a row, or multiple times a day, recovery nutrition is essential to jumpstart muscle protein synthesis (aka muscle building) and restore the body’s energy stores, so that you can tackle your next training session with ease.
There are two main things to consider with post workout nutrition: content, and timing.
What you eat:
In regards to content, an ideal recovery snack or meal will include both a source of protein and carbohydrates.
The ideal ratio is 3-4 grams of carbohydrates to 1 gram of protein (1).
So, if your snack contains 30 grams of carbs (found in 1 medium banana), then an ideal amount of protein would be 8-10 grams (found in 1 cup of soymilk).
In addition, it is important to make sure your snack includes a source of antioxidants. Exercise actually causes some stress on your cells, known as “oxidative stress” (2). Therefore, athletes have higher antioxidant needs, as antioxidants work to fight off this damage to your cells. Adding some colorful fruit or veg into your recovery snack will do the trick by providing some antioxidants. Fruits and veggies also include lots of vitamins, minerals, and carbohydrates which make them an ideal component of a recovery snack or meal.
When you eat:
In regards to timing, consume your post-workout snack within 30 minutes to 2 hours of completing your workout (1).
Top 6 Recovery Snacks for Plant-based athletes
These snacks are simple to prepare for athletes on the go, and each snack idea contains a good source of protein and carbohydrates.
1. Ants on a Log
- Celery sticks + Peanut butter + Raisins
- Don’t fancy celery? Try a fruit instead! Apple + almond butter, or perhaps the classic banana + peanut butter
2. Energy Ball
- Energy balls are usually a mix of nut butters, natural sweeteners like maple syrup or dried fruit, and other fun additions like cocoa powder, vanilla, hemp hearts, shredded coconut, etc.
- Try this great recipe by Minimalist Baker, 5 ingredient Peanut Butter Energy Bites
3. Recovery Smoothie
- Ingredients: 1 banana, handful spinach, ½ cup berries, 1 cup dairy-free milk of choice, 1 tablespoon of flax seeds or hemp hearts
- Try your own combo!
4. Apple, Carrots + Hummus
- Try out my non-traditional recipe for protein-packed, Edamame Hummus!
5. Soy-milk + Banana
Sometimes the best options are the simplest options
- 1 cup of soymilk and 1 medium banana
6. Roasted Chickpeas
- You can find these at the grocery store, or why not try making your own!
- Here is a simple recipe for roasted chickpeas
- Kerksick, C., Harvey, T., Stout, J., Campbell, B., Wilborn, C., Kreider, R., . . . Antonio, J. (2008). International society of sports nutrition position stand: Nutrient timing. Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition, 5, 17-17. doi:10.1186/1550-2783-5-17
- Thomas, D. T., Erdman, K. A., & Burke, L. M. (2016). Position of the academy of nutrition and dietetics, Dietitians of Canada, and the american college of sports medicine: Nutrition and athletic performance. Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, 116(3), 501-528. doi:10.1016/j.jand.2015.12.006
Bio: Leigh is currently completing the Master of Health Science in Nutrition Communication program at Ryerson University in Toronto, in order to meet the requirements to become a Registered Dietitian. Leigh is excited to establish herself as a credible and trustworthy source of nutrition and health information, and her key areas of interest include sport nutrition, mental health and addictions, health promotion, and disease prevention. Leigh is an avid mover, runner, yogi, and a firm believer in helping people find the foods and diet pattern that help them feel their best!