Nutella can help hard-training athletes with high daily energy needs recover faster after strenuous exercise. A serving helps replenish muscle glycogen stores, as it contains 21 grams of sugar. Also, it’s a good source of electrolytes as well as iron, which are involved in body hydration, energy metabolism, and oxygen transport.
Amateur athletes, fitness enthusiasts who work out for a lean body, or athletes of bodybuilding in the cutting phase better avoid consuming Nutella or any other calorie-dense spreads, though. It can make you gain weight, as it has too many calories.
Nutritional value of Nutella
A 2-tablespoon serving of Nutella contains 200 calories, 21 grams of sugar, and 11 grams of fat, of which 4 grams are saturated fats.
Also, it has decent amounts of fiber (4% DV), protein (2 grams), calcium (4% DV), iron (6% DV), and potassium (4% DV).
However, Nutella as well as other chocolate hazelnut spreads are highly processed foods with too much added sugar. They have a poor nutritional value as compared with whole hazelnuts or dark chocolate with more than 70% cacao solids.
How long before exercise can an athlete eat Nutella?
As a rule of thumb, you could eat Nutella or any other chocolate hazelnut spread at least two hours before exercise.
It takes time to digest Nutella. Especially if eaten with fiber-rich toast bread. Fiber and fats may cause stomach discomfort if consumed right before a workout or a race. This could lead to impaired athletic performance!
Moreover, eating Nutella close to a workout can’t improve physical performance because it’s a poor dietary source of caffeine. A 2-tbsp serving has only 3 mg of caffeine.
Dark chocolate with more than 70% cocoa solids has significantly more caffeine than Nutella. It has about 80 mg of caffeine per 100g!
Many athletes who like boosting caffeine intake before an intense workout, drink energy drinks, coffee, or even pre-workout supplements. But these beverages contain way too much caffeine. You could take some caffeine from Coke or tea, instead! Both have advantages as pre- and post-workout beverages.
Endurance athletes: Benefits of eating Nutella after a race
Long-distance runners and other endurance athletes may benefit from eating Nutella after a race or a competitive event. Above all, it supports recovery, as it replenishes muscle glycogen stores and electrolytes.
Runners and other endurance athletes who work out for more than 60 minutes have high energy needs. They should replenish muscle glycogen stores as soon as possible for faster muscle recovery!
This is vital for athletes who work out daily, run many miles during an athletic event, or play many games during the season.
Additionally, Nutella can help endurance athletes hydrate their bodies. For proper hydration, we have to replenish lost fluids as well as electrolytes. Nutella contains decent amounts of essential electrolytes. calcium and potassium. A 2-tbsp serving provides
- potassium: 170 mg, 4% DV
- calcium: 40 mg, 4% DV
- sodium: 15 mg, 1% DV
Athletes also require high amounts of sodium, chloride, and magnesium. Getting adequate amounts of sodium and chloride is easy. A teaspoon provides more than enough for these two key electrolytes. After all, the scientific name for table salt is sodium chloride!
Moreover, athletes have increased magnesium needs. Still, they can consume more than enough magnesium by eating certain foods like seeds and nuts!
Moreover, eating Nutella after a race might be beneficial for endurance athletes because it’s a good dietary source of iron. Just a 2-tbsp serving provides 1 mg of iron, which is 6% of the Daily Value!
Maintaining healthy levels of iron is crucial for physical performance. Iron helps athletes run faster and for longer. It’s involved in the processes of oxygen transfer from the lunges to the working muscles, as well as energy metabolism!
However, athletes have increased risk of iron deficiency, even if they follow a healthy, well-balanced diet. Especially female athletes of reproductive age!
Intense exercise, excessive sweating, and environmental stress are only a few factors that can cause iron deficiency to athletes.
A great alternative, super-healthy, spread to Nutella is tahini. Among other health benefits, tahini is one of the richest plant-based foods in iron!
Furthermore, Nutella can be a great energy booster for endurance athletes who follow a gluten-free diet. Nutella doesn’t contain any ingredients derived from gluten-containing cereals, like wheat, barley, or rye.
Even athletes with no celiac disease may benefit from a diet low in gluten. Reducing gluten intake may improve gut functions and prevent inflammation among runners and other endurance athletes.
Athletes of bodybuilding: Does Nutella after a workout build muscle mass?
Athletes of bodybuilding could benefit from eating Nutella after intense exercise as well.
Firstly, as Nutella is packed with added sugar, it helps replenish muscle glycogen stores, promoting recovery, and eventually muscle growth. Especially if eaten with white bread as the first post-workout snack. White bread is also high in sugar.
Insulin helps transfer glucose to the working muscle mass. Insulin is a key anabolic hormone. The body after a hard resistance training session has increased insulin sensitivity. This state lasts for about 2 hours.
During this time window, athletes of bodybuilding or athletes who work out for strength would benefit from consuming foods high in sugar.
In fact, at that time, it’s the best time of the day to enjoy your favorite candy. Yes, candy could be a great post-workout snack for bodybuilders in the bulking phase.
Can all athletes eat Nutella after exercise?
Long-distance runners or bodybuilders in the bulking phase could eat Nutella because it’s a calorie-dense food which satisfies their sweet tooth. The best time to eat it for better sports performance is right after strenuous exercise.
Can make you gain weight
However, most amateur endurance athletes who run for less than 60 minutes a day, athletes who do resistance training for a lean summer body, or bodybuilders in the cutting phase could eat only small amounts of Nutella 2–3 times a week.
It’s high in saturated fat
Athletes of bodybuilding who consume high amounts of animal-derived foods for increased protein intake should be very mindful of consuming Nutella.
Animal-derived foods are packed with saturated fat. But saturated fat can be dangerous for our health when consumed in high amounts.
Thus, the American Heart Association suggests consuming no more than 13 grams of saturated fat on a 2,000-calorie diet. Eating too much saturated fat can raise the level of LDL cholesterol in the blood. It increases the risk of heart disease and stroke.
On the contrary, only a few plant-based foods have high amounts of saturated fat. Palm oil, which is a key ingredient of Nutella, is one of them.
Due to palm oil and cow’s milk, a 2-tbsp serving of Nutella has 4 grams of saturated fat. This is 31% of the maximum safe daily intake in a 2,000-calorie diet!
A great way to reduce the consumption of saturated fat is to avoid consuming fatty meats and full-fat dairy products. You can get the required amount of protein from protein powders.
Does lecithin in Nutella have benefits for athletes?
But Nutella contains negligible amounts of lecithin. Athletes can’t take advantage of its health benefits.
How athletes should eat Nutella?
Above all, you should eat Nutella and any other calorie-dense spread with foods high in fiber. Fiber regulates appetite hormones, lowers cholesterol levels, and contributes to healthy gut microbiota.
Certainly, you should avoid consuming Nutella with any other fattening food, such as cow’s milk, peanut, or almond butter.
12 easy & quick healthy Nutella recipes for athletes
You can use Nutella to prepare great post-workout snacks. You can use nutritious foods in your recipes, like fruits, chia seeds, flax seeds, walnuts, almonds, protein powder, quinoa, oats, and other whole grains, which help build muscle mass and fight exercise-induced free radicals.
- Protein-Packed Nutella Smoothie Bowl: Blend together 1 frozen banana, 1 scoop of chocolate protein powder, 1 tablespoon of Nutella, 1 tablespoon of chia seeds, and 1 cup of almond milk. Top with sliced strawberries, crushed almonds, and granola.
- Whole Grain Nutella Pancakes: Prepare a batch of whole grain pancake batter. Add 2 tablespoons of Nutella. Cook the pancakes as usual. Serve with sliced bananas and a drizzle of maple syrup.
- Nutella Stuffed Whole Grain French Toast: Take two slices of whole grain bread and spread Nutella between them to make a sandwich. Dip the sandwich in a mixture of beaten eggs, almond milk, and cinnamon. Cook on a skillet until golden brown. Serve with fresh berries.
- Protein Nutella Energy Balls: Combine 1 cup of rolled oats, 1/2 cup of Nutella, 1/4 cup of protein powder, 1/4 cup of crushed almonds, and 2 tablespoons of honey. Roll into bite-sized balls. Refrigerate for at least 30 minutes before consuming.
- Nutella Banana Protein Muffins: In a bowl, mix 1 cup of whole wheat flour, 1/2 cup of protein powder, 1/4 cup of Nutella, 1 mashed banana, 1/4 cup of honey, and 1/2 cup of almond milk. Pour the batter into muffin tins and bake at 350 °F (175 °C) for 15–18 minutes.
- Whole Grain Nutella Granola Bars: Mix together 2 cups of rolled oats, 1 cup of Nutella, 1/4 cup of honey, 1/4 cup of protein powder, 1/4 cup of chopped nuts, and 1/4 cup of dried fruit. Press the mixture into a baking dish and refrigerate until firm. Cut into bars and enjoy.
- Nutella Chia Pudding: Combine 1/4 cup of chia seeds, 1 cup of almond milk, and 2 tablespoons of Nutella in a jar. Stir well and refrigerate overnight. Serve with sliced bananas and a sprinkle of crushed walnuts. Walnuts are among the richest foods in omega-3s, which are particularly beneficial for muscle growth.
- Whole Grain Nutella Waffles: Prepare a batch of whole grain waffle batter and mix in 2 tablespoons of Nutella. Cook the waffles in a waffle iron and serve with a dollop of Greek yogurt and fresh berries. Greek yogurt is one of the healthiest foods you can eat at breakfast for maintaining a lean body year-round.
- Nutella Quinoa Breakfast Bowl: Cook 1/2 cup of quinoa according to package instructions. Once cooked, stir in 1 tablespoon of Nutella and top with sliced strawberries, blueberries, and a sprinkle of flax seeds. Flax seeds are among the richest foods in omega-3s as well.
- Nutella Protein Overnight Oats: Combine 1/2 cup of rolled oats, 1 cup of almond milk, 1 tablespoon of Nutella, and 1 scoop of chocolate protein powder in a jar. Stir well, refrigerate overnight, and top with sliced bananas and a sprinkle of hemp seeds.
- Whole Grain Nutella Banana Bread: Prepare a whole grain banana bread batter and swirl in 1/4 cup of Nutella. Bake according to the recipe instructions and enjoy a slice as a pre-workout snack.
- Nutella Protein Crêpes: Make whole grain crêpes using a protein powder-infused batter. Spread Nutella on the crêpes and fold them into triangles. Top with a dollop of Greek yogurt and fresh raspberries.
Is Nutella a healthy energy source for athletes?
Actually, no. Nutella isn’t a healthy source of energy. It’s packed with sugar and saturated fat, with only small amounts of a couple of minerals. However, athletes could sparingly eat it to satisfy their cravings for something sweet. Ideally after strenuous exercise.
However, if you’re really concerned about your athletic performance, it’s preferable to consume fruits to fuel your muscles. They’re naturally high in sugar. But they also contain vitamins, minerals, fiber, antioxidants, and many other health-promoting phytochemicals that enhance recovery, helping athletes work out harder and for longer!
Athletes with increased energy needs could even consume fruit juices, dried fruits, or high-quality fruit jams!
In fact, one of the best post-workout beverages an athlete can drink is tart cherry juice! It’s much more than a good source of sugar and electrolytes.
How often can an athlete eat Nutella for improved athletic performance?
Athletes can consume Nutella or any other chocolate hazelnut spread daily as long as they follow a well-balanced diet. In other words, if you like Nutella, you should be cautious not to eat other foods high in added sugar or saturated fat.
Also, you shouldn’t consume more calories than you burn. Keep in mind that highly processed foods like Nutella can lead to overeating.
Elite athletes who are very concerned about their sports performance should avoid the regular consumption of Nutella, though. They could only eat it as a post-workout snack for quick muscle glycogen replenishment after a big race. Especially if they compete again in a short period of time. In this case, quick muscle replenishment is key for victory.
Can athletes eat Nutella at any other time of the day?
Athletes should eat Nutella only around exercise. It’s better to avoid consuming Nutella at other times of the day. It might make you fat, as it can spike blood sugar levels and lead to overeating.
Other healthier spreads for your post-workout snack
Certainly, athletes with increased energy needs could consume many other healthier spreads.
As already mentioned, tahini is one of the best foods you can eat. It’s packed with nutrients that are involved in energy metabolism and enhance muscle gain! Despite its high caloric content, tahini is good for weight loss!
In addition, all nut butters are great alternatives to Nutella and other sugar-rich chocolate hazelnut spreads. For instance, peanut and almond butter are packed with protein, fiber, minerals, and antioxidants.