If you are trying to improve your physical performance or improve the muscle-to-fat ratio in your body, it’s easy to fall into the trap of thinking that you can never enjoy a sweet treat again. However, this is not true: there are plenty of appetizing treats that won’t wreck your body, and the key is often in choosing higher-quality, less-processed foods without too many carbohydrates and fats in them. Read on for some healthy treat ideas for when your gym session leaves you craving something sweet.
Banana slices with peanut butter
Bet you didn’t think you could have peanut butter! While this favorite childhood treat should be consumed in moderation as it is rich in fats, it also contains a high percentage of proteins (about 25%) which are good for building muscle mass and also provide slow-release energy. Given the high calorific content of peanut butter, instead of the traditional pairing with toast or bagels, it is better to spread it onto banana slices. Not only will bananas give you a much slower and more sustained release of energy than bread products, but they also contain many essential nutrients such as potassium, iron, vitamins B and C, and tyrosine, an amino acid that can help you stay more focused, alert, and motivated by triggering the production of norepinephrine, a hormone similar to dopamine.
High-quality dark chocolate
Surprised? Chocolate gets a bad rap among athletes and other health-conscious folks as one of the ‘bad’ foods to avoid at all costs. In reality, however, this line of reasoning only applies to the lower-quality, often cheaper varieties of chocolate, which are usually pumped full of excess dairy, sugars, palm oil, and other nasty processed substances. By contrast, high-quality chocolate made primarily of cocoa and sugar is a fine treat for an athlete—and the higher the cocoa percentage, the better. Dark chocolate is good for your cardiovascular health, and there is now some evidence that it might also act as a performance enhancer in a similar way to the much-hailed beetroot juice. Both these substances are rich in nitrates, which upon ingestion are converted by our bodies into nitric oxide, a chemical that makes our blood vessels dilate and therefore reduces oxygen consumption, thereby increasing athletes’ endurance. So why not buy some chocolate gift boxes for your favorite personal trainers or gym buddies?
Greek yogurt and honey
Yogurt is a great choice for a post-workout snack because it contains proteins and other nutrients which help muscle recovery, as well as calcium for bone health and probiotics to boost your gastrointestinal function and immune system. Choose Greek yogurt over other kinds as it contains a higher amount of protein.
If you are not a fan of the taste of plain Greek yogurt, avoid buying pre-flavored alternatives, which often contain an excessive amount of added sugars. Instead, buy the plain variety and sweeten it yourself with a drop of honey, which will give you an energetic boost without straying too far in terms of calorific content.