Portable Protein

by Louise | October 23rd, 2013 | Fitness Expert

eggYou’ve probably heard that after a hard run or workout you should be looking to replenish your body with foods as soon as possible. You’ve probably also heard that the best foods are the ones that have the golden 4:1 ratio of carbohydrates to protein. For that reason, low fat chocolate milk is often suggested as one of those perfect fuels for after a workout. But what if you can’t have chocolate milk or don’t want chocolate milk? The to-go sized packages aren’t exactly the most budget-friendly option, but the gallon jugs aren’t exactly the most portable (and are also perishable). What other options do you have?

At first glance, it may not seem like there are many portable foods that offer the same golden ratio. Luckily, your post workout doesn’t have to come from one source. Portable carbohydrates are easy to find: apples, bananas, granola bars, cereals, sports drinks, and the list goes on; they tend to already be your typical choice for a snack. Portable proteins take a little (but not much) more effort to keep handy. Here are a few ideas:

  • Hard-boiled eggs – Boil and peel in advance, and then bring it in tupperware or as a sandwich topping.
  • Beef or turkey jerky – Look for natural low-sodium brands.
  • Pumpkin seeds – If you have the opportunity to snack on these, they have about 14 grams of protein per half cup!
  • Yogurt – It’s okay to eat yogurt cups several hours after they leave the refrigerator.
  • Baked tofu sticks – This option is for those who are feeling more inclined than others in the kitchen.
  • String cheese – These are convenient to carry and high in protein and calcium, but should be consumed in moderation due to their relatively high saturated fat content.

What’s great about having a protein source that is relatively separate from the carbohydrate source is that the ratio between the two can be adjusted as needed. Even if you hit the weight room after your run, you’ll still want to refuel with a combination of carbohydrate and proteins. Carbohydrates replenish your glycogen (energy) stores while protein helps repair the small tears created in the muscle through lifting. However, on lifting days you may want to tweak the ratio such that there is a higher protein ratio. Note that you don’t need a pure protein drink to replenish well after a weight routine. (Check out our recently posted MFT article, “Do You Really Need More Protein?“)

A hard workout can be a wasted (or even detrimental) effort if one doesn’t refuel promptly and appropriately. Plan out your week of recovery snacks in advance so you’re prepared to refuel immediately after every workout. Why not make several baggies of a personalized trail mix with cereal and nuts? You can simultaneously plan out the calories you need while crafting your ideal carbohydrate-protein ratio for the day. Proper refueling on one day means better training the next day.

(Photo courtesy of Dez Pain)

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All health and fitness information is provided for educational purposes. Please consult with your physician before beginning any exercise regimen.