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Snack Smart

by Elina Fuhrman | Jezebel magazine | January 29, 2013

Starving after a serious sweat sesh? While a hard workout certainly does your body good, nothing sabotages your fitness routine like a poor snack choice afterwards (after all, abs are made in the kitchen, not the gym, right?).

“Eating the right snack is important to keep you on track and to reach your goals quicker,” says Ulrick Bien-Aimé, health and wellness expert and owner of Atlanta’s Bien-Aimé Strength and Stretch Studio. To take the mystery out of the munch, we’ve rounded up the top post-exercise bites to help you refuel and reboot.

Sliced apples and almond butter with cinnamon are the top choice for Dolvett Quince, Atlanta’s star trainer, who helps people shred it on NBC’s The Biggest Loser. “It speeds up your metabolism and satisfies your sweet tooth,” says Quince. This snack is also packed with polyphenols, which increase strength and lower body fat.

A protein shake seems like an obvious choice—but make sure you blend grass-fed whey protein [with liquid] for max benefits. “Just add some raw almond butter and blueberries, which are great for instant repair. Plus, [a shake] digests easily,” says L.A.-based personal trainer and wellness philosopher Jenna Phillips.

Almonds are an indisputable go-to for most fitness trainers. “They taste good and also provide protein in-between meals,” says Quince. Each almond has seven calories and is loaded with antioxidants—they’ll fill you up quick, so make sure to keep portion sizes in control, and skip the salted variety.

Cucumbers are often overlooked, but they make a perfect on-the-go snack. “[They] help move fat through the bloodstream,” says Bien-Aimé, and are also packed with calcium, magnesium, phosphorus and potassium. Because they’re packed with water, cucumbers rehydrate your body, prevent muscle cramps, strengthen your connective tissues and help maintain strong bones.

Greek yogurt is on every trainer’s must-eat list. A natural probiotic (with healthy bacteria), it contains easily digestible protein—twice the amount of regular yogurt—and is nutrient-dense, without excess sugar. This creamy treat is perfect for muscle recovery after strength training.

Pineapple is one of Bien-Aimé’s favorites. “It helps reduce muscle soreness because it contains bromelain, a natural digestive enzyme, which breaks down lactic acid in the muscle,” he says. Pineapple is also high in potassium, which revitalizes your post-workout body and flushes out excess salt (hello, skinny jeans!).

If you’re in a hurry (or can’t wait until you get home to have a bite), snack on a protein bar. Look for ones with at least 10 grams of protein and fewer than 6 grams of sugar. Phillips’ favorite is LÄRABAR, made with dates, nuts and fruit. “I love that they only [contain] a few ingredients,” she says. “That’s the way it should be! Eat nature, not science.”