When you’re up early in the morning and spend the day working hard, it can be a challenge to fit exercise into your life. Hitting the gym after work is a great idea, but unless you’re eating dinner beforehand, it’s smart to keep a few quality snacks on hand. Since you’ll be spending your gym time running, lifting weights, or taking classes, it’s important to eat the right foods that won’t weigh you down and will provide an extra burst of energy to get you through the next few active hours.
“Fat and fiber slow down digestion and can cause gastrointestinal upset during your workouts,” registered dietitian Jordan Mazur, coordinator of nutrition and team dietitian for the San Francisco 49ers tells Men’s Journal. “Carbs are your main fuel source for activity and, just as important, it’s the primary fuel source for your brain. Additionally, the more substantial the meal is, the more time you want to allow for digestion, so it’s not sitting in your stomach.”
Here are four snacks you can always keep at your desk if you want to go to the gym after work:
Bananas And Peanut Butter
A few slices of banana dipped in peanut or almond butter provides an ideal balance of carbs, protein, potassium, and healthy fat. This snack helps release glucose into your blood at a steady and slow pace, which makes for long-lasting energy that's especially helpful when you're strength training.
Low-Sugar Protein Bars
Protein bars have gotten a bad rep lately, but that's only because so many store-bought varieties are packed with sugar. It's easy to make your own no-bake protein bars with simple, wholesome ingredients like oats, protein powder, almond milk, and chocolate chips--the higher its percentage of cacao, the more health benefits you'll reap from it.
Even if you're starving at four in the afternoon, just a handful of nuts like almonds, walnuts, and selenium-rich Brazil nuts can satisfy you immediately and keep hunger pangs at bay for longer than simple carbs. Nuts are also a great source of protein and can be combined with a few pieces of dry fruit for sweetness and a quick burst of energy.
Low-Fat String Cheese
As long as your stomach can handle dairy well, eating a low-fat string cheese snack before the gym gives you protein, calcium, and carbs, all of which are great for strength building. Add a few nuts for even more protein and healthy fat.