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Fueling For Success: Healthy Gym-Friendly Snacks

Jan. 3, 2024 / VASA Admin
VASA Fitness high protein snack
Fuel On the Go

When it comes to fitness goals, it’s essential to know the role nutrition plays in the gym. For many, fueling for workouts can seem intimidating, especially if you are just starting your fitness journey. Don’t worry! We are here to help you fuel properly so you can make the most of your time in the gym. We’ve got all the info you need to find fitness snacks you’ll love that are equally healthy and delicious.


Benefits of Eating Healthy Snacks Before and After the Gym

Nutrition is the fuel our body needs to power through a challenging workout, and it’s essential to consider both pre- and post-workout nutrition to maintain your energy levels and aid in muscle recovery. Your workout and fitness levels will suffer if you aren’t eating the right things. To maximize muscle growth, you must eat more calories than you burn. It Is suggested that to gain muscle, you should be eating 1.4 -2 kilograms of protein per kilogram of your body weight per day to gain muscle; for example, a 150 lb person would want to consume between 75 – 135g of protein a day to start seeing the benefits. This will vary between men and women and, of course, your specific goals. Listed below are the vital nutrients you should consider when fueling your workout. These gym-friendly options are the ultimate game-changer. Stick with these for a significant workout boost, and prepare for those gains in the gym!

Protein – The Building Blocks
Protein is essential in both building new and repairing damaged muscle. A quality protein will contain the Branched-Chain Amino Acids (BCAAs) that get depleted during exercise. Lean meats, eggs, fish, and dairy are excellent protein sources for gym snacks, but those may be hard to come by when you are on the go. Think about packing some of your favorite lean jerky, a turkey roll-up, or even a hard-boiled egg to eat after your next workout. Mix a protein shake with your favorite milk and even some fruit for an easy, nutritious option when you are on the go.

Complex Carbohydrates – Sustained Energy
Complex carbs found in whole grains, sweet potatoes, lentils, blueberries, or raspberries help ensure a steady release of energy throughout the workout and keep you satiated. Because these foods are full of more challenging nutrients to break down, they will create a more stable sugar level, preventing a sudden energy crash. They help prevent muscle loss and aid heavily in the recovery process. We look to complex carbs during a workout to find a longer-lasting source of fuel that will also protect our muscles during a longer endurance stretch.

Healthy Fats – Recovery and Inflammation
Don’t let the word fat fool you; healthy fats and omega threes like the ones found in nut butter, eggs, dark chocolate, and chia seeds will provide lasting energy during your sweat session and are full of compounds that reduce muscle inflammation for an easy recovery after your workout. They also help increase the body’s production of HDL, which we know as the good kind of cholesterol. The more HDL we have in our bodies, the more we produce growth hormones, which increase our ability to produce the tissue that builds muscle. These hormones also help the body produce more amino acids necessary to aid in recovery by reducing inflammation and decreasing the chance of injury during or after a workout. Healthy fats can also help you feel fuller longer and have added benefits for your skin and hair. You will also notice some mental benefits that come with eating healthy. Veggies, fruits, and other foods high in omega-3s increase our ability to focus and help stabilize our moods and serotonin levels.


Easy Gym-Ready Snack Ideas

Not sure what to pack for your next workout? We’ve taken the guesswork out of fuel for the gym. Below are some quick, easy, gym-friendly healthy snack ideas that are proven to give your workout a wanted boost with minimal prep time:

    Nut and Seed Trail Mix:
    Combine a mix of high-protein nuts like almonds, cashews, or peanuts with chia or sunflower seeds and dried fruits like cherries or cranberries for a convenient and tasty on-the-go fitness snack. You can even throw in some dark chocolate chips for a little added sweetness and energy boost!

    Greek Yogurt Parfait:
    For a delicious and nutrient-rich parfait, combine protein-packed Greek yogurt with fresh fruits like blueberries or strawberries and your favorite granola or nut mix. You can even top it with a little honey or maple syrup, perfect for a healthy snack at the gym.

    Veggie Sticks with Hummus:
    Satisfy your crunchy cravings with nutrient-packed veggies like carrots, celery, peppers, and protein-rich hummus—a surprisingly hearty and satisfying gym snack that is quick, easy, and portable.

    Nut Butter Sandwich:
    It doesn’t get easier than a PB&J! With so many nut butter options today, you will indeed find a new instant favorite. Try swapping out peanut butter for almond or sunflower seed butter and use whole wheat bread for optimal nutrition. You can even add some sliced bananas for extra vitamin B6, magnesium, and potassium, which are excellent recovery nutrients. Add some honey or your favorite low-sugar fruit spread, and you’re good to go!

    Protein Smoothie:
    Blend protein powder with your favorite choice of milk, fruits, and greens like kale and spinach for a refreshing post-workout treat. This option is an endlessly customizable high-protein snack your body deserves after a grueling workout. Add a scoop of peanut butter or cocoa powder for a bonus if you have a sweet tooth!

If you are short on time or feel weird about eating in the gym, keep it simple and pack something super light and easy, like a banana and chocolate milk, or add a packet of oatmeal to your protein shake. Pretzels or a protein bar are another excellent option that packs a punch with essential macronutrients and a high dose of protein and carbs that fits right in your pocket.

Time Your Snacks for Maximum Impact

Knowing when to introduce nutrition during your workouts is essential to get the most benefits. Pre-workout snacks provide quick energy, while post-workout snacks aid recovery and muscle replenishment. Choose fitness snacks wisely based on your workout schedule. You probably won’t want to eat something heavy and hard to digest before a workout. You may also need to fuel during your workout, depending on how much time you plan to spend in the gym. If you plan on doing a ton of cardio, consider getting some gels or 100-calorie snack bars to help maintain your endurance throughout your session if you start to feel a blood sugar crash coming on. These can easily be consumed right on the bike or treadmill and will give you sustained energy until the very end of your workout. Avoid anything with a lot of dairy, refined sugar, or fiber during your workout, and be sure to get something into your system 30 minutes after your workout to get the most out of the work you just put in. Your body will need to replace all the nutrients you just burned to grow and build muscle.


Tips for Packing and Storing Gym Snacks

Invest in lightweight, portable containers, and don’t forget to consider temperature-sensitive snacks and where you will be storing them during your workout. If you don’t have access to a fridge, avoid anything perishable and grab something that can be stored at room temperature. Try making your fitness snacks in advance, and consider having a grab-n-go section in your fridge or pantry that makes it easy to quickly find a snack and toss into your bag on your way out the door! Most importantly, remember to make hydration part of your nutrition plan by pairing healthy snacks for the gym with water or sports drinks that contain electrolytes.

Finally, find snacks that satisfy cravings while avoiding excessive sugars and heavily processed ingredients. These will only slow you down and inevitably make your energy levels crash. You might be starving at the end of your workout, so having a healthy snack on hand will help you avoid tempting sugary treats and ensure your hunger doesn’t get any worse! The journey to a healthier you begins with a solid fuel source. Fuelling your body with wholesome, gym-friendly snacks is a simple yet powerful way to elevate your fitness journey. Experiment with different options and listen to your body to find a nutritious and tasty treat you know you’ll enjoy after a tough workout. Most importantly, keep snacks simple to see the mental and physical benefits they’ll provide!