Exercising Your Workout Snacks

By Kelli Harvilla, MS, RDN LDN - Contributing Editor for ExecWell

We know that exercise is essential to maintain good health, as well as promote weight loss or maintenance which helps you to meet your goals.  But it does not work 100% on its own – diet is also extremely vital to complete the big picture of health, and what you choose to eat before and after your workout plays a major role in making your workout effective.

Before your workout, it is important to fuel your body with a combination of complex and simple carbohydrates, which help to sustain your blood sugar as well as release energy steadily throughout your routine. 

turkey-and-cheese-with-apple-slices 7-best-post-workout-snacks

  • Whole wheat toast with sliced banana and cinnamon
    • The toast provides complex carbohydrates, while the banana provides simple carbs along with potassium, which is lost through sweat.  The cinnamon adds extra flavor, as well as helping to stabilize blood sugar.
  • Greek yogurt and trail mix
    • Yogurt is fairly easy to digest and provides some carbs and protein.  Trail mix, as long as it’s nut or dried-fruit based (no chocolate candy!), also provides some carbs and protein. Just remember that since nuts can be high in fat, a little goes a long way.
  • Smoothie
    • An easy on-the-go snack is a smoothie made with fruit, yogurt and some granola. This should provide 10-20 grams of protein, which is all you need for a pre-workout snack.  If you choose to buy a smoothie, be sure it is made with whey or milk-based proteins.
  • Oatmeal with fresh fruit
    • Oatmeal provides fiber and helps to gradually release sugar into the blood stream so you don’t encounter low or high blood sugar during your workout.  The fruit provides additional fluids to keep you hydrated.
  • Apple wedges with almond butter
    • Apples provide some fiber and carbs, as well as vitamins, minerals and antioxidants, and the almond butter helps to increase your energy level.
  • Chocolate Milk
    • It provides carbs and protein to aid muscle recovery, as well as water to replace your fluids, and calcium, sodium and sugar, which help you recover faster, retain water, and regain energy.
  • Protein Shake + Banana
    • This combo provides extra protein and carbs to recover – recommended to use 2 scoops whey protein powder, some water and ½ banana.
  • Peanut Butter & Banana Sandwich
    • Using rice cakes versus bread, this protein-packed treat also provides fiber to keep you fuller after your workout. It is recommended to use 1 tbsp. peanut butter, ½ banana, and two brown rice cakes.
  • Hummus & Pita Chips
    • Hummus is an easy on-the-go treat which provides protein, while the pita provides some carbs for muscle recovery – recommended to use ¼ cup hummus with 1 whole wheat pita.
  • Tuna on Whole Wheat
    • Tuna is a protein-packed snack, when combined with whole wheat bread, it provides a perfect post-workout snack – recommended to use 4 ounces of water- packed tuna on 1 slice whole wheat bread.

After your workout, it is just as important to consume proper nutrients, such as protein and carbs, to ensure that your muscles recover from your hard work.  It is also recommended to drink 8-12 ounces of water with your post-workout snacks. 


Kelli Harvilla, MS RDN LDN is a contributing editor to ExecWell, as well as a licensed, registered dietitian based in Scranton, Pennsylvania. She received her bachelor's degree in Nutrition & Dietetics from Marywood University in 2007, and her master's degree in Applied Nutrition with a concentration in obesity and eating disorders from Northeastern University in 2013. She is an active member of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, as well as the state and local chapters of the Dietetics association. Her background includes clinical nutrition, along with food service management. She strives to provide optimal nutrition education and guidance to promote healthy living and wellness among the general population, as well as traveling professionals.


ExecWell.com contains information on health, nutrition, fitness and exercise. This information is for informational purposes only and is not intended to replace or modify the advice provided by your doctor or other health care professional. You should consult a doctor or health care professional for all health-related matters, including before beginning any diet or fitness program.