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A friend asked me once if eating a banana was a good post-work out snack, to which I gave him a knee jerk reply of "any fruit is a good post work-out snack". I've conditioned myself in to thinking this because I've often heard and have experienced myself that having something that consists of simple carbohydrates (e.g. the natural sugars in fruit) that is also nutritious after a workout is a great way to start replenishing your body.

But is fruit really that great post-workout by itself? Should you combine those simple carbohydrates with something else post-workout beyond water for rehydration? What about proteins and fats post-workout (either immediately or within 1-2 hours of finishing)? Are all fruits created equally in this context of being a post-workout snack or are some better than others?

Let's assume that by "workout" I mean something between 30 minutes to 1 hour where your heartrate is averaging over 70% of your maximum heart rate. If that doesn't narrow it down, perhaps answers may describe what workouts are a post-workout snack of fruit desirable and which ones aren't.

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It probably depends to some degree on what your workout was... –  Aardvark May 26 '11 at 14:50

2 Answers 2

up vote 9 down vote accepted

High heart rate workouts (running, swimming)

  • You need to replenish carbs and electrolytes
  • Sports drinks are probably preferred
  • Fruits help replenish carbs, some better than others

Low heart rate/high load workouts (strength training/body building)

  • You need to replenish protein
  • Best consumed within 1 hour post workout

Special properties of Bananas over other fruit?

  • Bananas (and potatoes) have plenty of potassium
  • Potassium helps prevent or deal with muscle spasms/cramping

original answer:

It really depends on the type of workout. For high heart rate workouts like running and swimming, it's good to replenish your carbs since you more than likely burned them all up exercising. In that case any fruit will help replenish your carbs--as will a sports drink.

That said, for all workouts some form of protein post workout is also beneficial. The chief reason being that the muscles that were just worked will be looking for more protein to build themselves back up for next time. It's absolutely critical to have protein if you are strength training.

Bananas and potatoes are also high in potassium, which can really help deal with muscle cramps. If you experience those regularly, you might be potassium deficient. You'll have to replenish that after working out.

Unfortunately, there is no one-size fits all answer.

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As a runner, I tend towards a combination of peanut butter and jelly sandwich with a banana and chocolate milk and/or gatorade (or insert your favorite sports drink). This provides some simple sugars for immediate energy, some complex carbohydrates for long term energy, and a bunch of electrolytes to replace those lost during the run. I started doing this after reading about the surprising benefits of chocolate milk. Check here for more information.

Hope this helps.

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