8 Best Post-Workout Snacks

You’ve heard it a million times: Abs are made in the kitchen. While it’s true that the right nutrition can make or break your athletic (and aesthetic!) goals, you don’t need a fully-stocked kitchen to lose weight and build a fully-stacked bod.

8 Best Post-Workout Snacks

You’ve heard it a million times: Abs are made in the kitchen. While it’s true that the right nutrition can make or break your athletic (and aesthetic!) goals, you don’t need a fully-stocked kitchen to lose weight and build a fully-stacked bod.

From muscle building to calorie-blasting, these are the portable snacks you want in your gym bag for when hunger strikes. Because hangry doesn’t look good on anyone—even if you’ve got a six-pack.

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Horizon Organic Lowfat Chocolate Milk Box

Calories 150
Fat 2.5 G
Saturated Fat 1.5 G
Sugar 22 G
Protein 8 G

Milk really does do a body good, especially when it’s of the low-fat chocolate variety, even more so when enjoyed after an intense workout. A series of related studies in the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research suggest that low-fat chocolate milk, with its optimal ratio of carbohydrates and high-quality protein, may be the most effective post-workout drink for muscle recovery and exercise adaptation. Trained cyclists who took part in the study shaved about six minutes from their ride when they recovered with chocolate milk than with sports drinks or water alone. Enjoying a little bit of milk fat (this one has 2.5 grams per 8 fl oz serving) helps your body absorb the fat-soluble vitamins.

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Gin Gins Original Ginger Candy

Calories 40
Fat 0 G
Saturated Fat 0 G
Sugar 10 G
Protein 0 G

Whether or not you leave the gym with a hot ginger is on you, but throwing down a bit of the spicy stuff before leaving the locker room could help ease muscle soreness, research suggests. Two recent studies published in the journal Pain looked at how supplementing with ginger after performing various resistance exercises affected muscle pain and inflammation post-exercise. In both cases, soreness was significantly less than expected the day following training. Two pieces of Gin Gins Original Ginger Candy, aside from being super yummy, will cost you only 40 calories of simple carbohydrates—ideal for the quick replenishment of your muscle’s stores of glycogen, a form of sugar used for fuel.

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JELL-O Gelatin Snacks

Calories 70
Fat 0 G
Saturated Fat 0 G
Sugar 16 G
Protein 1 G

Whip out a pot of JELL-O in the locker room, and you can feel smug knowing the wobbly protein and simple sugars are transforming your bod into a supple leopard. The main ingredient in jello is amino-acid rich gelatin—essential for the formation of collagen, which keeps bones, tendons and connective tissues healthy. A six-month trial published in the journal Complementary Therapies in Medicine found daily gelatin supplementation to improve joint pain in athletes’ by as much as 20 percent over a placebo.

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Justin’s Organic Almond Butter 80 Calorie Pack

Calories 80
Fat 8 G
Saturated Fat 1 G
Sugar 1 G
Protein 3 G

Don’t let the decadent taste and relatively high fat content of almond butter scare you; research shows that almonds, rich in the amino acid L-arginine, can actually help you burn more fat (and carbs!) during your workout. A study printed in The Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition compared the effects of almonds and cookies on cyclists’ performance. Athletes were able to go almost 2 km further when eating 400 calories in almonds than they did when consuming cookies with the same caloric content. They also burned more carbs and fat during the workout—a result researchers attribute to boosted concentrations of nitrogen monoxide in the muscle tissue, which allowed athletes to workout more intensely over a longer period of time.

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Three Jerks Jerky

Calories 110
Fat 3.5 G
Saturated Fat 1 G
Sugar 6 G
Protein 10 G

Filet mignon on the go? Yes, please! Made with all natural ingredients, a 1-ounce serving of Three Jerks Jerky provides your body with 12 grams of muscle-building protein for only 100 calories. Don’t let the 470 mg of sodium scare you. In fact, a study published in the International Journal of Sport Nutrition and Exercise Metabolism found that men who ate chicken noodle soup containing 1,362 milligrams of sodium before cycling in the heat stayed better hydrated during their workout.

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KIND Bar: Maple Pumpkin Seeds with Salt

Calories 150
Fat 6 G
Saturated Fat 1.5 G
Sugar 6 G
Protein 3 G

Protein, carbs and electrolytes are like the popular kids of workout nutrition. But lower-profile studies, like one recently published in The Journal of Nutrition, suggest magnesium can be equally beneficial for athletic performance—especially cardio endurance. So runners, listen up! A three-month study on the effects of magnesium depletion on exercise found that peak oxygen uptake and heart rate increased significantly during periods of magnesium restriction — the opposite of what you want as an endurance athlete. Pumpkin seeds are one of the best dietary sources of the mineral, and we’re huge fans of KIND’s Maple Pumpkin bar with sea salt. While it certainly doesn’t qualify as a protein bar (3 grams), it’s perfectly portioned at 150 calories, surprisingly low in sugar (6 grams), and has an all-natural ingredient list that won’t leave your tummy gurgling.

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Bob’s Red Mill Tart Dried Cherries

Calories 130
Fat 1 G
Saturated Fat 0 G
Sugar 31 G
Protein 1 G

Consider it the best tasting ibuprofen; snacking on a small handful of tart cherries pre-workout may ease muscle soreness, according to a study published in the Scandinavian Journal of Medicine and Science in Sports. The anti-inflammatory benefits come from antioxidant compound in the sour fruit called anthocyanins, which you’ll find in any red- or purple-skinned fruit. So a handful of frozen red grapes would provide the same bennies (albeit, somewhat less gym-bag friendly).

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Lipton Green Tea

Calories 0
Fat 0 G
Saturated Fat 0 G
Sugar 0 G
Protein 0 G

Forget shelling out cash on trendy supplements, and sip on a cup of soothing calorie-free green tea before and after your workout for max calorie burn. (Ok, ok, so it’s technically not a snack.) In a recent study, participants who combined a daily habit of 4-5 cups of green tea with a 25-minute sweat session lost two more pounds than the non tea-drinking exercisers. What makes green tea so waist friendly are compounds called catechins, belly-fat crusaders that blast adipose tissue by revving the metabolism, increasing the release of fat from fat cells (particularly in the belly), and then speeding up the liver’s fat burning capacity. Better yet, you don’t need to splurge on the fancy brands for all the bennies. According to a Consumer Labs test on antioxidant levels in various green tea brands, budget-friendly Lipton ranked among the highest.