Workout Snacks That Won’t Make You Hate Working Out


Photo by Claire Lower

It turns out that moving your body around in an intentional fashion—known to jocks as “taking exercise”—is an important part of not being in pain as an adult, and it turns out that eating a portion of gyro casserole an hour before pumping a modest amount of iron is a poor plan. I, however, refuse to eat a goddamn protein bar, so I’ve had to get a little creative with my pre-workout snacks.

In most cases, it’s simply a matter of tweaking boring food to make it less boring. In the case of boring carrots and boring store-bought hummus, I added a little yogurt to the hummus (which adds protein and makes it taste creamier), spooned a little olive oil on top, and sprinkled it with za’atar, a seasoning that makes everything more delicious. According to people who put way more effort into (real) self care than I do, “easily digestible protein-rich meal within two hours” of a workout is the way to go. “Easily digestible” means different things to different stomachs, but I do pretty well with some sort of carb (usually a fruit) and a protein. Feel free to mix and match the below to meet your protein needs. I’ve included some protein counts to help with that.

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  • Hardboiled eggs, but make them fun: An egg without salt is a dismal thing, but we can do better than salt. Once again, I must enlist my BFF Everything But the Bagel seasoning, and urge that you also try a bit of furikake here. Also, I’m not above deviling the damn thing, just don’t overdo it on the mayo. One egg, deviled or not, eaten with a clementine is usually enough to get me through my exercise, but if you are extra swole, you might need to double up. (Protein = 6 grams per egg)
  • Baklava yogurt: Don’t be fooled, this is still yogurt and not dessert, but I tried eating baklava before hitting the gymnasium, and I got a headache. Fortunately, whole milk yogurt with honey and pistachios tastes very good—not as good as baklava, but good—and won’t give you a headache. (Protein = about 20 grams per 8 ounces, depending on the brand, 6 grams of protein per ounce of pistachios)
  • Pears with small portions of fancy cheese: Did you know that Kerrygold makes little spreadable wedges of their famed Dubliner cheese? Well they do, and they pair very well with apples and pears. (Protein = 2 grams of protein per cheese wedge)

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  • Pineapple wrapped in prosciutto: It’s quite lucky that one of my favorite snacks of all time also works well as pre-gym fuel. The only risk you run is eating far too much, because it’s dangerously delicious. (Protein = 7 grams per ounce of prosciutto)
  • Reluctant avocado toast: Look, I know we’re all “tired of ‘cado toast,” but the combination of bread and fatty avocado, simply seasoned with a little salt and pepper fills me up without weighing me down. Add a slice of turkey for protein if needed. (Protein = 4 grams per avocado, 5 grams per ounce of turkey)
  • Trader Joe’s Chomp Sticks or jerky and your favorite fruit: Chomp sticks are like Slim Jim’s that don’t wish ill upon you, and jerky of all kinds is quick, easy, and tasty. Chomp either with a piece of fruit for a balanced mini meal. (Protein = 9 grams of protein per Chomp stick, about 9 grams of protein per ounce of jerky, depending on brand)

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I’ve also heard some people eat rice cakes with nut butters and such, but I am pretty much philosophically opposed to rice cakes, no matter what’s on them. (You do you, though.)

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