Benefits of eating granola after exercise

Granola is one of the healthiest post-workout snacks for fast recovery, muscle gain, and improved sports performance. A serving provides 7 grams of protein, 10 grams sugar, 4.5 grams fiber and dozens of vitamins, minerals and antioxidants!

Why should athletes eat granola after a workout?

Granola has a superior nutritional value. It helps athletes build muscle mass, recover faster after an exhaustive workout and improve their sports performance.

Supports muscle recovery

Firstly, granola is a great post-workout snack because it helps replenish muscle glycogen stores due to its high carbohydrate content.

A serving of granola has about 27 grams of carbs, of which 10 grams are sugars.

The body has increased insulin sensitivity a couple of hours after exercise. Insulin is a powerful anabolic hormone. Among other benefits, it helps muscles absorb glycogen.

Hard-training athletes with increased energy needs should consume sugar as soon as possible after exercise. Especially if perform demanding workouts every day. For this reason, even Coke and candy as well as other sugar-packed foods can be great post-workout snacks.

Antioxidants

Granola may support muscle recovery for another reason. It can be particularly high in antioxidant compounds. Antioxidants fight exercise-induced oxidative stress!

Athletes should prefer granola with various dried fruits. Berries and fruits with deep red or black skin have the highest antioxidant content.

Hence, athletes should eat granola containing strawberriesraspberries, cherries, blueberries, or blackberries after a workout.

Also, dried figs are among the most nutrient-dense fruits, an athlete can eat daily. They have huge benefits for amateur or elite athletes!

For instance, granola contains about 137 mcg of lutein and zeaxanthin per 100g. These are powerful antioxidants.[1]

Moreover, you could drink a glass of your favorite fruit juice after exercise. Cranberry or cherry juice are two of the most beneficial post-workout beverages. They promote recovery, as they’re packed with antioxidants and sugar.

Helps build a lean body

Additionally, granola is an excellent post-workout snack because it helps you built a lean body.

Protein

Firstly, a serving of granola has about 7 grams of protein. Protein is necessary for muscle recovery as well as building muscle mass.

A great post-workout snack should contain decent amounts of both sugar and protein.

Fiber

Furthermore, a serving of granola provides 4.5 grams of fiber, which is 16% of the Daily Value.

Fiber delays digestion, prevents spikes of blood sugar, and regulates hunger. So, it prevents overeating. A fiber-rich diet makes it easy to follow a hypocaloric diet for a lean body for longer.

Actually, almost all ingredients of granola are packed with fiber. Rolled oats, nuts, seeds, and fruits are particularly rich in fiber,

Beta-glucan

Beta-glucan is a type of fiber. It’s found in abundant in oats and barley. They’re by far the richest foods in beta-glucan!

Beta-glucan may improve muscle strength and aerobic performance. It may reduce fatigue recovery time. Beta-glucan reduces cell damage in muscle tissue and regulates the production of lactic acid.[2]

Additionally, beta-glucan may enhance immune function. So, athletes can perform more workouts per year. This is key for physical performance.

It hydrates the body as it replenishes electrolytes

Moreover, eating granola after strenuous exercise hydrates the body, as it contains decent amounts of electrolytes. A serving contains:

  • magnesium, 20% DV
  • potassium, 8% DV
  • calcium, 4% DV

We have to replenish both water and electrolytes after a workout. The sooner, the better.

Athletes have increased magnesium and potassium needs. For instance, magnesium decreases lactate production and regulates blood glucose levels.

Long-distance endurance athletes or any other athlete who sweat a lot should be very mindful of replenishing electrolytes as soon as possible.

Benefits of adding salt to granola

The other two key electrolytes are sodium and chloride. We can easily replenish them by consuming small amounts of table salt (also known as sodium chloride).

If you prepare your granola, you could add some salt to the mixture. Otherwise, you could sprinkle some salt on your post-workout snack.

May protect the bones of runners

Granola is an excellent dietary source of phosphorus as well. A serving provides 31% of the DV.

Why is granola the best post-workout food for athletes?Pin

Hard-training athletes have higher phosphorus needs. For instance, phosphorus increases bone mass and strength. It helps maintain the bone health of athletes.[3]

Athletes should substantially increase their phosphorus intake, especially during the training and competition season.

May improve athletic performance

Granola is a super food for athletes. It contains many minerals and vitamins that are involved in energy metabolism and muscle functions.

Manganese

Firstly, granola is particularly rich in manganese. A serving provides 87% of the Daily Value.

Manganese is a cofactor for many enzymes which are involved in immunity, bone health, as well as protein, glucose, and carbohydrate metabolism.[4]

Copper

Moreover, a cup of granola provides 36% of the Daily Value of copper.

Intense exercise may deplete copper stores.

Copper is an essential trace mineral. It assists various enzymes that produce energy for the body to absorb iron from food. Also, copper is necessary for building red blood cells, collagen, and connective tissue![5]

Thiamine

A serving of granola provides 23% of the DV of thiamine.

Healthy levels of thiamine are necessary for energy metabolism. In fact, healthy thiamine levels appear to have beneficial effects on preventing or even accelerating recovery from exercise-induced fatigue!

As it’s a soluble vitamin, we have to daily consume high dosages from our diet.[6]

However, thiamine deficiency is common among athletes. It can even lead to obesity.

Zinc

Granola is an excellent dietary source of zinc as well. A cup provides about 19% of the DV.

That’s because oats, nuts, and seeds are good vegan sources of zinc.

Athletes have increased zinc needs than the general population. Long-distance runners and other endurance athletes in particular. They should be very cautious to replenish zinc stores after a big race.

Zinc is implicated in many biological functions, like immunity and energy metabolism. Above all, it’s required for the activity of more than 300 enzymes.[7]

Vitamin B6

Granola provides 14% of the DV of vitamin B6 as well.

Vitamin B6 is necessary for the good function of more than 100 enzyme reactions, mostly concerned with protein metabolism!

Vitamin B6 provides energy to the working muscles. Also, it helps lose body weight, as it regulates appetite.

Riboflavin

Riboflavin is another key B vitamin for energy metabolism, and maintaining a lean body. It plays a key role in carbohydrate, fat, and protein metabolism.

A serving of granola provides 14% of the DV.

Overweight people who want to lose weight should be very mindful of consuming adequate amounts every day.

Other B vitamins

In fact, granola is high in many other vitamins of the B complex. For instance, a cup provides 10% DV and 9% DV of folate and niacin, respectively.

These B vitamins may improve endurance performance. Especially among athletes with certain vitamin imbalances.

How should athletes eat granola after exercise?

Adding certain ingredients to your granola or combining it with protein-rich Greek yogurt can make it the ultimate post-workout snack for athletes.

Protein

Above all, you could eat granola with Greek yogurt, which is an excellent dietary source of protein. Just a serving of plain Greek yogurt can have up to 18 grams of protein!

Additionally, athletes who perform resistance training for muscle gain could add a scoop of protein powder to yogurt or skim milk!

Hence, our post-workout, granola-based snack can be packed with protein. A serving can have almost 50 grams of protein!

You’ll find a wide variety of whey as well as vegan protein powders on iHerb. As it’s the leading platform in supplements, it always has unbeatable prices.

Additionally, combining oats with yogurt has many benefits for a lean body. It supports weight loss and helps build muscle mass.

Fruits with vitamin C

Moreover, you could add a serving of fruits high in vitamin C to your post-workout granola. Athletes have increased needs for vitamin C.

Favorite fruits high in vitamin C that taste great with granola are oranges, strawberries, pineapples, and kiwi. Prefer adding fresh or frozen fruits as topping to your post-workout, granola-based snack.

As vitamin C is very vulnerable to heat and processing methods, dried fruits contain negligible amounts.

Bromelain

One of the best fruits an athlete should eat after strenuous exercise is pineapple. Pineapple is the only dietary source of bromelain. This enzyme has potent anti-inflammatory actions. It helps relieve joint pain!

Vitamin E

Athletes should prefer granola brands containing almonds or sunflower seeds. These are the two richest foods in vitamin E.

A serving of granola can provide up to 37% of the recommended daily intake of vitamin E.

Vitamin E is one of the most powerful antioxidant compounds. It’s particularly beneficial for hard-training athletes who follow intense exercise daily and looking for an immediate performance enhancement.[8]

But high dosages from supplements may be bad for athletes. They should get the recommended daily intake from their diet. Extremely high amounts tend to block anabolic signaling pathways and impair adaptations to resistance training.

Omega-3s

Additionally, you should add seeds, nuts, or certain oils high in omega-3s to your granola. Omega-3s enhance muscle gain and endurance!

Selenium

Moreover, you could add some Brazil nuts to your granola. Brazil nuts are the richest foods in selenium. Just a Brazil nut can provide more selenium than the recommended daily intake!

Selenium is the key component of glutathione peroxidase, which is one of the most powerful antioxidant enzymes. Thus, selenium appears to improve athletic performance and training recovery.[9]

Selenium deficiency is pretty common among athletes with high-intensity and high-volume training.

Iron

Athletes should regularly eat granola after strenuous exercise for another reason. It can boost your daily iron intake. A serving can provide more than 10% of the Daily Value!

Healthy iron status is crucial for sports performance. It’s implicated in energy metabolism and oxygen transport to the working muscles.[10]

Runners and other long-distance endurance athletes have an increased risk of iron deficiency.

You can substantially increase the iron content of granola by adding plant-based foods high in iron. Two of the richest foods in iron are goji berries and pumpkin seeds.

Cinnamon

Adding cinnamon to carbohydrate-rich foods improves postprandial glucose responses. You could sprinkle some cinnamon on your granola, muesli, or oatmeal.

Gluten-free

Moreover, granola is gluten-free. Oats, nuts, seeds, and fruits naturally contain no gluten. But, as they may be contaminated with gluten, athletes with celiac disease should only eat granola certified as gluten-free.

Granola containing other grains, such as wheat, barley, or rye, contain high amounts of gluten.

Even athletes with no celiac disease may benefit from following a low-gluten diet., though. Consuming lower amounts of gluten may improve gut functions and prevent inflammation among runners and other endurance athletes.[11]

Can I eat granola before exercise?

As granola is a fiber-rich food, athletes should avoid consuming it before exercise. Actually, the worst time of the day to eat granola is right before training.

Fiber takes time to digest. In fact, consuming fiber before exercise can impair physical performance. It may cause stomach disturbances, like bloating, gas, stomach cramps, or a strong feeling to defecate.

Runners as well as athletes of bodybuilding should eat fiber at least 2 hours before exercise.

Provides energy during a workout

On the other hand, granola could be a great pre-workout snack, as it provides steady levels of energy for hours.

As it’s packed with fiber, protein, and healthy fats, most granola brands have a medium glycemic index, despite their high sugar content. In most cases, the glycemic index of granola is lower than 69.[12]

Moreover, there are keto-friendly granola products that have a pretty low glycemic index (49-52). These products contain no sugar or oats. They contain mainly nuts, seeds, and keto-friendly natural or artificial sweeteners.

Hence, eating a small granola bar a couple of hours before a workout provides steady levels of energy during exercise.

Can athletes eat granola at any other time of the day?

Yes, athletes can enjoy their favorite granola-based snack at any time of the day. For instance, a great time to eat granola is in the morning.

In fact, granola is the perfect snack for breakfast. It supports weight loss, as it provides energy for hours and regulates hunger.

Moreover, antioxidants in granola protect the skin, eyes, and hair from oxidative stress due to sunlight or air pollution! You could add berries or fruits with dark black, blue, or red skin to your granola. They have the highest antioxidant concentrations.

How much granola can an athlete eat after exercise?

A cup (50 g) of granola with skim milk, vegan milk, or plain Greek yogurt is the recommended daily dose for the general population.

Athletes who train for a lean body, or athletes of bodybuilding in the cutting phase, should eat a serving of granola a day as well. They have to be very cautious with the consumed calories. Granola has many calories!

Thus, we should carefully choose the proper granola brand while dieting.

On the other hand, athletes of bodybuilding in the bulking phase or long-distance endurance athletes can eat much higher portion sizes. They have increased energy needs. These athletes can eat even 3 servings of granola a day!

How long after a workout should athletes eat granola?

Hard-training athletes can eat granola right after the gym. You can even enjoy your favorite granola bars on the go.

Right after the gym, the body requires high amounts of sugar in order to replenish muscle glycogen stores. This process is vital for fast recovery. It’s the best time of the day to eat your favorite granola that is packed with added sugar!

Can an athlete eat granola every day?

Yes, all athletes can eat a serving of granola every day for optimum physical performance!

Homemade or commercial granola for better sports performance?

Homemade granola is one of the healthiest foods you can eat. But there are many high-quality commercial granola products.

For instance, you can find keto-friendly, gluten-free, grain-free, and non-gmo granola products on iHerb.

We compared the 4 most-popular granola products for weight loss. Only one is suitable for weight loss, though, as it has fewer than 150 calories per serving.

Granola recipes

Here are 15 homemade granola recipes tailored for fitness enthusiasts who work out for a lean body, bodybuilders, runners, or other endurance athletes.

Instructions:

  • Preheat your oven to 325 °F (163 °C) and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
  • In a mixing bowl, combine the ingredients.
  • In a small saucepan, heat the honey, sugar, coconut oil, or butter over low heat until melted. Stir in the vanilla extract. Otherwise, in a microwave-safe bowl, you can heat your favorite nut butter, and other ingredients until melted and well combined.
  • Pour the honey mixture over the dry ingredients and mix well until everything is coated evenly.
  • Spread the mixture onto the prepared baking sheet in an even layer.
  • Bake for 20–25 minutes or until the granola turns golden brown, stirring halfway through to ensure even baking.
  • Once done, remove from the oven. Allow it to cool completely. Store in an airtight container.

Granola recipes for athletes of bodybuilding

  1. Classic Protein-Packed Granola
    • Ingredients: 2 cups rolled oats, 1/2 cup protein powder, 1/2 cup almonds, chopped, 1/4 cup hemp seeds, 1/4 cup chia seeds, 1/4 cup dried sugar (coconut or brown sugar), 1/4 cup honey, 2 tablespoons coconut oil, 1 teaspoon vanilla extract.
  2. Peanut Butter Power Granola
    • Ingredients: 2 cups rolled oats, 1/2 cup protein powder (vanilla or chocolate), 1/2 cup chopped almonds, 1/4 cup hemp seeds, 1/4 cup chia seeds, 1/4 cup sugar, 1/4 cup natural peanut butter, 1/4 cup honey, 2 tablespoons coconut oil.
  3. Chocolate Banana Protein Granola
    • Ingredients: 2 cups rolled oats, 1/2 cup protein powder (chocolate), 1/2 cup chopped almonds, 1/4 cup hemp seeds, 1/4 cup chia seeds, 1/4 cup sugar, 1/4 cup cocoa powder, 1/4 cup honey, 1 mashed ripe banana.
    • Instructions: In a separate bowl, mash the ripe banana until smooth. Then add honey and mix well. Pour the banana mixture over the dry ingredients and mix until everything is evenly coated.
Granola is the healthiest post-workout snack!Pin
  1. Maple Pecan Protein Granola
    • Ingredients: 2 cups rolled oats, 1/2 cup protein powder (vanilla), 1/2 cup chopped pecans, 1/4 cup hemp seeds, 1/4 cup pumpkin seeds, 1/4 cup sugar, 1/4 cup maple syrup, 2 tablespoons coconut oil, 1 teaspoon vanilla extract.
  2. Cinnamon Raisin Protein Granola
    • Ingredients: 2 cups rolled oats, 1/2 cup protein powder (vanilla), 1/2 cup chopped walnuts, 1/4 cup sunflower seeds, 1/4 cup chia seeds, 1/4 cup sugar, 1/4 cup honey, 2 tablespoons coconut oil, 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon, 1/2 cup raisins.

Athletes of bodybuilding in the bulking phase could add 1/4 cup of cow’s butter to their favorite granola recipe. It provides taste, but it has too many calories.

Also, they could add chia or hemp seeds. Not only are they particularly high in high-quality vegan protein, but also they’re two of the richest common foods packed with omega-3s!

Granola recipes for fitness enthusiasts who want a lean body

  1. Vanilla Almond Protein Granola
    • Ingredients: 1 cup rolled oats, 1/4 cup vanilla protein powder, 1/4 cup chopped almonds, 2 tablespoons unsweetened applesauce, 1 tablespoon almond butter, 1 teaspoon vanilla extract, stevia to taste.
  2. Chocolate Peanut Butter Protein Granola
    • Ingredients: 1 cup rolled oats, 1/4 cup chocolate protein powder, 2 tablespoons powdered peanut butter, 2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder, 1 tablespoon unsweetened almond milk, stevia to taste.
  3. Cinnamon Raisin Protein Granola
    • Ingredients: 1 cup rolled oats, 1/4 cup vanilla protein powder, 1/4 cup raisins, 1 tablespoon ground cinnamon, 2 tablespoons unsweetened applesauce, stevia.
  4. Blueberry Almond Protein Granola
    • Ingredients: 1 cup rolled oats, 1/4 cup vanilla protein powder, 1/4 cup chopped almonds, 1/4 cup dried blueberries, 2 tablespoons unsweetened applesauce, stevia.
  5. Lemon Protein Granola
    • Ingredients: 1 cup rolled oats, 1/4 cup vanilla protein powder, zest of 1 lemon, 1 tablespoon flax seeds, 2 tablespoons unsweetened almond milk, stevia.

As a rule of thumb, in order to minimize the caloric content of granola, avoid adding sugar. Also, you could add flavored whey or vegan protein powder. People on a diet could benefit by increasing protein intake.

Granola recipes for runners & other endurance athletes

  1. Mixed Berry Blast Granola
    • Ingredients: 2 cups rolled oats, 1/2 cup chopped almonds, 1/4 cup pumpkin seeds, 1/4 cup dried blueberries, 1/4 cup dried cranberries, 1/4 cup dried raspberries, 1/4 cup honey, 2 tablespoons coconut oil, 1 teaspoon vanilla extract.
  2. Cherry Almond Energy Granola
    • Ingredients: 2 cups rolled oats, 1/2 cup chopped almonds, 1/4 cup dried cherries, 1/4 cup dried blueberries, 1/4 cup dried cranberries, 1/4 cup honey, 2 tablespoons almond butter, 1 teaspoon cinnamon.
  3. Goji Berry Power Granola
    • Ingredients: 2 cups rolled oats, 1/2 cup chopped walnuts, 1/4 cup pumpkin seeds, 1/4 cup goji berries, 1/4 cup dried chopped apricots, 1/4 cup maple syrup, 2 tablespoons coconut oil.
  4. Triple Berry Crunch Granola
    • Ingredients: 2 cups rolled oats, 1/2 cup chopped walnuts, 1/4 cup dried strawberries, 1/4 cup dried blueberries, 1/4 cup dried raspberries, 1/4 cup maple syrup, 2 tablespoons coconut oil, 1 tablespoon brown sugar.
  5. Cranberry Orange Zest Granola
    • Ingredients: 2 cups rolled oats, 1/2 cup chopped almonds, 1/4 cup dried cranberries, 1/4 cup dried cherries, zest of 1 orange, 1/4 cup honey, 2 tablespoons coconut oil, 1 tablespoon brown sugar.

Runners and other endurance athletes should prefer granola with dried fruits. Dried fruits can replenish muscle glycogen stores fast, as they’re naturally high in sugars. Also, they’re packed with antioxidants.

Moreover, athletes could use honey as a key ingredient for granola. Especially high-quality honey is an excellent dietary source of polyphenols, which fight exercise-induced oxidative stress! Honey has more than 200 bioactive polyphenol compounds!

Oatmeal, granola or muesli?

All are excellent post-workout foods. They provide energy, protein, fiber, and various vitamins and minerals to athletes.

Oats are the key ingredient in most cases. But, granola and muesli can be made from other cereals as well. They can even be made without grains in order to be suitable for a ketogenic diet.

Adding various seeds, nuts, fruits, and honey can make a superior post-workout snack that enhances muscle gain and recovery.

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