Anytime you finish any sort of physical activity, your tummy will usually start to grumble. This is because you will have most likely used up your energy stores, and your cells are asking for more energy to keep going.
However, choosing the right snack is very important to provide the different cells in your body with more than just quick energy, rather also vitamins, minerals, and proteins to build muscle, keep energy levels up, and avoid cramps.
For yogis out there, the sort of nutrients you need in your body after doing yoga might be different from the ones you would need after other sorts of physical activity. This is because, for most types of yoga, it is an aerobic exercise that builds muscle strength and flexibility as well as endurance. The foods that replenish your body after these exercises are different from what your body needs after short-term anaerobic sprints, for example.
Immediately after you do yoga, your cells are more sensitive to certain hormones so they can gain access to certain nutrients in a quicker manner. For this reason, you should be eating a snack no later than 30-40 minutes after exercising.
The Three Rs of Post-Exercise Snacking
For any post-yoga snack, you should make sure that you are choosing foods and drinks that give you the three Rs:
When you’re sweating and breathing harder than normal, you lose a lot of liquid. If you don’t rehydrate, not only can you feel ill and disoriented, you can also experience intense muscle cramps. You need liquids to ensure your cells are working properly.
After yoga, you’ve likely depleted your glucose stores in your blood and muscles. You need carbohydrates. Ideally these carbohydrates will come from fruits and vegetables and whole grain, rather than candies and sweets.
Repair and Rebuild
When you exercise, and especially if you used your body weight as strength training, it is important to provide protein to your muscle cells so they can repair any damaged muscle fibers and rebuild new ones.
Contrary to popular belief outside the yogi world, strength-building is core to proper yoga posture and technique. Think of the Four-Limbed Staff pose (Chaturanga Dandasana) or Boat pose (Paripurna Navasana), and how much strength is needed to achieve and hold these poses.
Post-Yoga Snack Ideas for Yogis
1. Whole Wheat Bread with Peanut Butter and Banana
Whole wheat bread and banana provide slow-releasing energy, and the peanut butter provides a vegetarian source of protein. The banana also contains important electrolytes which are important for muscle contraction and to prevent muscle cramping. Wash it all down with a glass of water, sugar-free almond milk, or skim milk to get your hydration in.
2. Greek Yogurt, Muesli, and Berries
Greek yogurt provides protein, the muesli provides energy, and the berries provide hydration, electrolytes, and, like the muesli, slow-releasing energy.
3. Tuna Salad on Whole-Wheat Crackers
For a savory treat, mix some canned tuna with some chopped celery and fresh cilantro, and a tad of light mayonnaise and place on a bed of lettuce. Eat with whole-wheat crackers. The tuna provides the protein you need to repair and rebuild muscle, while the crackers provide the energy needed to restore glucose levels. Wash it down with light cranberry juice to rehydrate.
For an extra boost, serve with apple slices on the side.
4. Four-Bean Salad with Baked Corn Chips
Mix together fresh or canned black, red, white, and pinto beans. Mix in some chopped green pepper, red onion, and tomato. Squeeze lime juice on top, and enjoy. The beans together with the corn chips provide complete proteins, while also providing replenishing and immune-boosting vitamins and minerals.
While it likely goes without saying, always avoid fast foods, foods with added sugar, and intense sweets after doing yoga—no matter how much you crave them. Of course, snacks do not replace full meals, but rather provide short-term post-workout boosts to give our body what it needs when it needs it most.
Image credit: Alexander Mils