Massachusetts Daily Collegian

A free and responsible press serving the UMass community since 1890

A free and responsible press serving the UMass community since 1890

Massachusetts Daily Collegian

A free and responsible press serving the UMass community since 1890

Massachusetts Daily Collegian

10 protein-packed post-workout snacks


After going to the gym for a recommended 30-60 minutes a day workout, the body needs to be refueled in a healthy and mindful way. A trip to the gym is no excuse to chow down on chocolate cake, because that would just be plain old sabotage.

Instead, stick to a healthy portion size and always check nutrition labels. Here a few after snacks to refuel a tired body without undoing a draining workout.

Chocolate milk

Yes, a small glass of chocolate milk is the perfect post-workout snack because it doesn’t undermine 30 minutes of cardio. A glass of low-fat chocolate milk can be compared to the benefits of a sports drink. This delicious beverage has high amounts of protein and carbohydrates in each glass, which helps to recharge tired muscles. Each glass also contains sugar, which helps athletes rebuild energy levels. And on top of all of those benefits, chocolate milk also supplies drinkers with a whopping dose of calcium. Calcium keeps bones strong and helps prevent bone loss, especially in women.

Greek Yogurt

Although Greek yogurts are a somewhat new trend, researchers have long known its important health benefits. With almost double the protein and half the sugar of regular yogurt products, Greek yogurt is the ideal post-workout snack to help build muscle. Leading brands such as Chobani, Fage, Voskos and Stonyfield’s Oikos all supply fat-free products in addition to low-fat varieties. This delicious dairy product is a great protein powerhouse without any of the guilt.

Protein Bar

Protein bars are one of the easiest post-workout snacks to find. Believe it or not, some of these small packages contain enough calories and protein to supplement an entire meal. They are the perfect traveling treat that can be enjoyed in class, when studying late in the library or even inhaled quickly at the University of Massachusetts Recreation Center before a workout. Protein bars are designed to give someone the right amount of fiber and protein for their body after a long workout.
However, not all bars are created equal; be sure to read the label for sugar and fat content to select the most nutritious bar available. The Atkins Advantage Peanut Butter Granola Bar packs a whopping 14 grams of protein and 5 grams of fiber per bar, while only sacrificing 11 grams fat and 1 gram of sugar! Maybe the Atkins Diet isn’t so painful after all.

Cereal and Skim Milk

Grabbing a bowl of cereal after a workout is a great way to get enough carbohydrates and protein into a diet. But be warned. Many cereals are loaded with unhealthy carbs and sugars without any nutritional value. Some cereals on store shelves even contain more sugar per serving than candy bars. All cereals are best enjoyed when paired with low-fat or fat-free milk, and some of the best brands are Fiber One, Wheaties, Shredded Wheat or Kashi Go Lean Crunch. These are the healthiest because they are low in sugar, while having enough fiber to help enhance digestion and lead a healthy lifestyle. Indulging in any of these cereals after a workout is a great way to build muscle and replenish lost nutrients.

Cheese and Crackers

This long-time popular duo is one of the best post-gym snacks because the combination of healthy fats and carbohydrates complement each other. Together, cheese and crackers make a healthful snack that helps repair muscle and energy levels. However, be sure to pick healthy crackers and low-fat cheese. Both can be tricky to find on store shelves because they have become popular processed food items. Stick to crackers such as original Triscuits, which have some of best nutritional value of any cracker.,Avoid labels that boast their product is “buttery” or “cheesy,” because chances are, they aren’t the healthy kind.

Peanut Butter and Pretzels

This pair packs protein and healthy fats from the peanut butter, while also packing in carbohydrates from the pretzels. It is also important to regain the salt lost while sweating during a particularly tough workout, which pretzels provide in plentiful amounts. Pretzels are a satiating snack and contain less fat than other snack products like chips. However if pretzels simply don’t tickle the taste buds, then spread fruit pieces such as apple wedges or a banana with peanut butter instead.

Hummus and Pita Bread

Hummus is made from chick peas and can satisfy any flavor craving with the variety of flavors, including garlic, roasted red pepper, cilantro, lemon, spicy and many more. Chickpeas are a good source of protein and when mixed with oils in the delectable spread create healthy fats to help refuel. Generously apply this fantastic spread on whole-wheat pita bread to get necessary carbohydrates as well.

Cottage Cheese

Contrary to popular belief, that is not “chunky yogurt” at the dining hall. It’s called cottage cheese, and it’s a great snack for the gym rats out there. Along with high levels of calcium in each serving, cottage cheese loads almost 20 grams of protein and tastes delicious. Many brands – including those served at the dining commons – are also fat-free. So enjoy this dairy product whenever. Even add a small serving of fruit to jazz up the flavor and to help mask the somewhat strange consistency.


Just a handful will do the trick to satisfy any post-workout hunger. Stick to the healthier nuts such as almonds, pistachios, hazelnuts, walnuts and cashews. Don’t be fooled by their size; these miniature snacks pack an incredible amount of protein, healthy fats and fibers. So, grab a handful while on the go or in class.

By the Whey….

Making a fruit smoothie after a workout is another option to help speed up the body’s recovery. Adding fresh fruit, ice and yogurt will give gives a tired body all the protein, calcium and sugars it needs. By adding whey protein to the mix, the smoothies also has an extra boost of energy. One of the best brands of whey protein is Nitrean Vanilla because it blends both whey and casein. It has 24 grams of protein, less than 2 grams of carbohydrates and only 1 gram of fat. And if blending seems like a lot of a work, the Rec. Center has a phenomenal smoothie bar – the Courtside Café – that serves delicious whey-filled smoothie.

Whether your taste buds crave something salty such as peanut butter, something fruity like a smoothie or something traditional like cereal and milk, make sure to eat after a terribly tough workout. Regaining nutrients lost can be unhealthy, so indulging in any of these protein-packed snacks will be the healthiest decision to made all day.

Kayla Marchetti can be reached at [email protected].

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  • J

    James BarclayJul 2, 2013 at 12:29 pm

    Great list. I can’t imagine being in the mood for cheese after a workout though :-)!

  • D

    Duncan BartleyJun 16, 2013 at 2:25 am

    I’m not an expert but I’ve been taught that the best non-real-food protein you can take post workouts are hydrolyzed whey protein and that’s what I’ve been taking for a while. Am I doing it right?, what do you think Kayla?

  • M

    Marion MacolaApr 27, 2013 at 7:28 pm

    Fran: I think it’s a good idea, but you have to do it right. Firstly, you need to choose a protein shake that is not filled with carbs and sugars… choose a protein powder instead of a meal replacement. Next, he needs to find a food or beverage that he can mix his protein powder with so that it tastes good, otherwise he won’t continue using them. Finally, if he uses the protein shake he should not still eat junk food… sometimes protein shakes are not that filling. If possible have him blend his protein shake with frozen fruit or add some healthy fat to it, like all natural peanut butter or flax oil (but not too much flax).