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Experts agree that rewarding yourself for healthy habits (like working out) can help you stick to them, but rarely do they recommend a delicious edible reward. After all, stuff your face with treats, and you’ll undo all the hard work you did at the gym, right? Memo received. But it probably won’t stop you from daydreaming about dessert during a run.
[embed_gallery gid=3838 type=”simple”]It doesn’t help that working out can seriously stoke your appetite, say registered dietitians Tammy Lakatos Shames and Lyssie Lakatos, certified trainers and authors of The Nutrition Twins’ Veggie Cure. Your best bet is to find a post-workout snack that feels like a treat and gives your body exactly what it needs: carbs to replenish glycogen (aka muscle fuel); protein to repair muscle tissue; antioxidants to reduce inflammation; potassium to support muscle contractions; and high water content, because you need extra H2O after you sweat.
You want to refuel within two hours of your workout — it’s when your muscles need these nutrients the most. So go on: Treat yo’self to one of these delicious post-workout snacks. You earned it!
1. Almond Date Smoothie
Liquid calories can add up fast, so make your smoothie at home where you can control what goes into it. This dairy-free recipe found on CosmoBody features an almond milk base and actual almonds for extra protein. The dates contain carbs, and honey serves up antioxidants. Bonus: This drink doubles as an aphrodisiac.
What you’ll need for one serving: 15 raw almonds; 3 dates; ½ cup almond milk; 2 limes, juiced; ¼ cup honey; pinch of salt; 2 cups loosely packed ice
How to make it: Combine all ingredients and blend until smooth.
2. Tart Cherry Yogurt
Studies show that tart cherry juice, which reduces inflammation, helps alleviate muscle soreness in athletes. Pistachios are high in potassium and fiber to fill you up and add some satisfying crunch. And, of course, Greek yogurt, which contains a mix of carbs, protein, and fat, is basically the perfect food. (Science says!)
What you’ll need for one serving: ½ cup low-fat vanilla Greek yogurt, 1 tablespoon tart cherry juice, 2 tablespoons pistachios, and a sprinkle of cinnamon (a potent antioxidant)
How to make it: Combine, stir, and spoon into face.
3. Chocolate Coconut Chia Balls
Because when I say “treat,” you say “chocolate.” Everyone knows that cocoa is the ultimate indulgence, and these guys also contain chia seeds, which are high in antioxidants and protein.
What you’ll need for four servings: 5 medjool dates, 1 teaspoon 100 percent cacao powder, 1 tablespoon chocolate chips, ½ tablespoon chia seeds, ½ tablespoon shredded unsweetened coconut
How to make them: Soak dates a few minutes or until they’re moist. In a food processor or blender, blend dates with cacao and a little water until the mixture forms a paste. Then, stir in chia and chocolate chips. Use a tablespoon to measure out four balls, then roll in shredded coconut and chill for about 15 minutes or until firm.
4. Chocolate Frozen Yogurt
Studies say chocolate milk contains the ideal mix of protein and carbs to revive tired muscles. But you know what’s better than chocolate milk? Ice cream. For realz: Chocolate fro-yo has slightly more protein than the original-flavored stuff. (Although you can’t go wrong with either flavor.) Granted, the nutritional facts for frozen yogurt vary widely, so look for four or more grams of protein and fewer than 20 grams of sugar per serving.
What you’ll need: This link (to find a Pinkberry nearby) and these wise words: Top with bananas (for potassium) and power fruits like blueberries, which are famously full of antioxidants.
5. Open-Face Caprese Sandwich
If you prefer to indulge in savory foods (Did someone say cheese?!), this combo is for you. Water-rich tomatoes contain potassium and other antioxidants, while the whole grain bread and mozzarella (bingo!) provide carbs and protein, respectively.
What you’ll need for one serving: One slice of whole grain bread, a few thick tomato slices, a thin slice of mozzarella cheese, a drizzle of olive oil, some fresh basil sprigs, salt and pepper to taste
How to make it: Top bread with ingredients. Eat.
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