100% Awesome Foods for After-Exercise Cravings

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WHAT ARE HEALTHY ALTERNATIVES TO REGULAR PEANUT BUTTER SANDWICHES AFTER A WORKOUT? Thank you Justin, one of the readers and a friend, for asking me that question and thereby inspiring this post! A lot of products are marketed as healthy (think protein shakes and energy drinks) making it more difficult to find out what is actually good for you. But, no worries, I’ve made a list with which you can not go wrong! 🙂

I’VE ENDED UP BOTH HUNGRY AND MOTIVATED TO EXERCISE just by writing this post! First of all:

Table of Contents


1. HEALTHY EXERCISE STARTS WITH A WELL BALANCED MEAL BEFORE HAND. Take in enough protein (meat or quinoa) and some carbs (brown rice, vegetables) before hand in order to have the energy and minerals you need to get through the workout.

2. HEAVY MEALS ARE NOT MEANT TO BE EATEN ANY TIME WITHIN 2 HOURS PRIOR TO EXERCISING because they make the digestive system interefer with the muscular system, hence neither of them will be able to do their job optimally. Eat your pre-exercise meal 2 hours before exercise to let your body have enough time to digest.

3. IF YOU DON’T HAVE MUCH TIME BETWEEN DINNER AND YOUR WORKOUT, a protein rich lunch and a salad based dinner are a great alternative to your regular rich dinner. In this way, you will have enough energy for your workout from your meal earlier in the day without overstressing your digestive system during exercise.

4. AS YOUR MUSCLES GET ACTIVE, they lose magnesium and potassium so it’s important to prepare and replenish these two minerals before and after exercise with carb foods (banana, spinach, pumpkin seeds, smoked mackerel, avocado, kefir, mushrooms).

5. STAYING HYDRATED WITH WATER IS CRUCIAL during exercise, but you’ll need a more powerful potion after to revitalise your body – a banana kefir smoothie might be the perfect refreshment you need (recipe: blend 3 ripe bananas with 2 cups of cold kefir and drink up! ;)).

6. HEAVY STARCHY CARBS (pasta, potatoes, white rice) after a workout will divert your body’s energy away from building up muscles to struggling with heavy digestion again, so try to avoid heavy starchy carbs after a workout. Foods mentioned in rule 4 are a great post-workout snack, as are many mentioned in the section Recipes (see below).

7. IF YOU HAD A TOUGHT AND LONG WORKOUT, have a healthy smoothie or a light (salad) meal about 30-40 minutes after it in order to replenish your mineral reserves. This is the optimal time (according to the Paleo diet) in which you body can make use of those nutrients after exercise.

source: sparkpeople.com

100% Awesome Foods for After-Exercise Cravings 

QUINOA, chicken breast, turkey – very rich in protein, can be combined with many veggies and cheeses as a great pre-exercise lunch or dinner

KEFIR- rich in vitamins and minerals, great for smoothies, refreshing and balancing

BANANA, MANGO, PINEAPPLE, apricot, kiwi, dried fruits (unsweetened) – rich in potassium, magnesium and fibre, can also be eaten as a light snack 30 minutes prior to exercise, replenishing

ORANGES – rich in potassium, refreshing, revitalising!

EGGS, SMOKED MACKEREL, herring, sweet potato – rich in protein, perfect for satisying after-exercise craving for something ‘fatty’, revitalising

SPINACH, cucumber, paprika – restore hydration and potassium levels, easy to prepare by chopping up and tossing in a salad, hydrating and replenishing

WHOLEGRAIN BREAD, chick peas (hummus), brown rice, goat cheese – good source of carbs without spiking up your glucose level

PUMPKIN SEEDS, hemp seeds, line seed – seeds are your friends, toss them in your yoghurt, cereals, or salad for more healthy fatty acids, proteins and minerals, replenishing

Exercising in hot weather also means: water, water, water – and sun protection!


Quinoa Salad (can be prepared in advance and consumed before and/or after workout)
Quinoa is a very personal thing. You can try different combinations to see which one you like. Personally, I like these two recipes: Quinoa and Winter Fruit salad and Kale, Quinoa and Avocado Salad.

Power omelette (to be consumed before/after workout)
4 organic eggs, 100g of fresh spinach leaves, 1 small onion, 2 cloves of garlic, 1 large ripe tomato, 50g of your favorite (goat) cheese. Pour 1l of boiling water over the spinach in a sieve. Dice the onion and fry on oil on low heat for a few minutes until it slightly softens. Add egg (scrambled) and drained spinach to the pan with onion and increase the heat. Add finely chopped garlic and cubed tomato so they get incorporated into the omelette. When the omelette is done, add shredded cheese on top, together with your favorite seasonings (paprika, oregano, basil). Fold the omelette and eat up!

Chicken Fajita Salad (can be prepared in advance and consumed before and/or after workout)
This is a recipe for 1. You can make a larger batch for company or to have this salad for a few days!
Fry 1 small onion on (sesame, coconut, sunflower, olive) oil on medium heat together with 100g pieces of chicken (or turkey) meat. Fry for a few minutes, until the meat has browned, then add 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin (djenten), 2 teaspoons dried oregano and chopped pieces of 1 paprika. Fry until paprika has softened a little bit and meat is completely done. Take off heat and mix with a portion of your favorite salad, 1 chopped tomato and half a cubed avocado (sprinkle with lemon juice if you want the avocado to stay fresh for longer). Enjoy!

Banana Kefir Smoothie (prepare after workout consume straight away)
250ml chilled kefir, 2 or 3 ripe bananas. If you don’t have ripe bananas, add a spoonfull of organic honey for sweetness. Blend and enjoy!

Orange & Kiwi Juice (can be prepared a few hours in advance and consumed after workout)
2 oranges, 2 ripe kiwi’s, blend in blender, enjoy chilled. If you have a sensitive stomach it is best to drink this some time after a meal because it might be too acidic for you on an empty stomach.

Sandwiches with hummus, spinach & avocado (can be prepared in advance and consumed after workout)
Wholegrain bread or bread with seeds, hummus (store bought or home made), few leaves of fresh washed spinach and few slices of fresh avocado, topped off with a sprinkle of salt, mmm!!! Add paprika for true veggie heaven!

Edemame (can be prepared in advance and consumed after workout)
Boil 100g edemame in water for 10 minutes. Drain and sprinkle with salt. Enjoy as a quick and salty, protein-rich snack after a workout!

Handful of walnuts and almonds with unsweetened dried fruit (pre-workout or post-workout snack)
Peanuts are the least healthy of all the nuts, because they contain relatively many pro-inflammatory fatty acids. Feel free to consume a handful of other nuts (such as walnuts, pecans, pistacchios and almonds) as a snack a few hours prior to exercise). Dried fruits also contain potassium!

Oatmeal & Peanutbutter cookies
Recipe coming soon (I will be making them this weekend! :)). Oatmeal is easier for the body to digest than white flour bread, so making these cookies in advance is a healthy (and less manly…) alternative to bread & peanutbutter! 🙂

You might find these other links interesting:
Broccoli & Zucchini Quiche – can be prepared in advance and consumed as after workout snack

Avocado, egg & ginger Brunch – consume straight after preparation, great as a light meal before or after a workout

Mackerel & Olive Pizza – very satisfying after-workout snack

Spinach & Sweet Potato Oven Gratin – super easy to make, light meal that is great for after a workout.