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after swim protein snacks - could use some help

My son is a 16 yr old competitive swimmer whose training schedule is rigorous. I bring him yogurts, puddings, and peanut butter bars after workouts as per his coach's advice. Coach says protein following workouts helps to rebuild muscle. I would like to bake protein bars for my son, but need some ideas. He's not a huge fan of nuts. Any suggestions for high protein snacks (he won't drink milk either, not even chocolate milk) would be greatly appreciated. Thanks!

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    1. Why not bring him sliced turkey breast or cheese (string, slices, babybels)?

      36 Replies
      1. re: nofunlatte

        +1 on cheese. I think whey is the fastest-assimilated protein, and that's what an athlete needs immediately after workouts. If this kid also will not drink milk or regular protein shakes, there are other whey "recovery" drinks that are clear, water-based, almost juice-like. Not tasty, but they get the job done until the next real meal.

        1. re: kaleokahu

          +1 again on cheese, and you could try wrapping the cheese and a slice of turkey breast up together. Or wrap both in a pita or tortilla. Up the protein factor even more by spreading with some hummus or another bean-spread with herbs and/or garlic if your son would like such a thing.

          I'm not a huge fan of nuts on their own, but am a sucker for chocolate-covered almond clusters from Sees. I'm not hard to please. Didn't mean to rhyme. Anyway, I adore dry-roasted salted sunflower seeds. They pack a good 10 grams of protein in a 1/4 cup serving. I snack on them all day, and eat a handful with string cheese in the afternoon for an energy boost. That, with an apple or some dried fruit, makes a great and filling snack to tide me over til dinner.

        2. re: nofunlatte

          -1 on the cheese suggestion. Fat slow digestion. Research has shown that a 4:1 carb:protein ratio is optimal for post-workout recovery, and that it's most effect within 30 minutes of the workout. The key is a carb+protein food that is highly digestible, which means low fat.

          One of the ideal post-recovery foods is low or no fat chocolate milk - it has the ideal ratio of carb to protein, and is very easily digestible. There's the commercial recovery mixes you can get at places like GNC (which I take), and work very well.

          1. re: foreverhungry

            OP said he doesn't like milk or chocolate milk. those recovery mixes are kind of gross, no? i used to run competitively, long distance, and was in immaculate shape. our coach just had us carbo load, eat lots of lean proteins, and we did the simple orange slices after competitions. we kept homemade granola with nuts and dried fruit around too and drank plenty of vitamin and electrolyte supplemented water. i never really had a problem with any of the above, even after running miles and miles on our high-altitutde conditioning trips. i'm lactose intolerant but couldn't fathom drinking milk post-workout. i believe you though. yogurt with a little granola was a good snack; probably even easier to digest than milk.

            1. re: nothingswrong

              I used to discourage gatorade and my kids would drink lots of water post work out for thirst quenching, but even under the thirstiest conditions they would drink lots of milk as well. I was always glad for that, water then milk. I'm not a milk drinker and would only drink water, but not anything with any sugar. I stopped doing so when I put on weight drinking Vitamin water.

              1. re: lilgi

                oh, i won't go near Gatorade. i think it's repulsive, for taste's sake alone (nevermind the sodium content). how did you gain weight with vitamin water? the sugar/calories? my doctor always recommended diluting all electrolyte drinks with at least 1/2 water for best effect. they really do have some good things in them, even the bad ones, but also loads of sugar and salt. he said they are best for you post-workout if you're not gulping them, and instead mixing with water. anyway, i'm a SmartWater convert. i have some elctrolyte imbalances and vitamin deficiencies now in my "old" age and smartwater has saved me many trips to the hospital for IV fluids. don't care that it's overpriced. and it's the purest tasting bottled water (in my opinion) to boot.

                1. re: nothingswrong

                  I still run and workout a lot at home, and I was even more active a few years ago, probably did everything except yoga (I'm very yang). I was drinking vitamin water thinking it was good, and because I often wanted something to drink other than water (was never a big water drinker either). I began to like it too much, and yes lots of sugar/calories. I simply stopped, the only things I drink are seltzer, coffee, and sometimes juice. I've never tried Smartwater, will look into it if not for me for the boys.

                  1. re: lilgi

                    probably did everything except yoga (I'm very yang).
                    ~~~~~~~~~~~
                    even more of a reason to take up yoga - you need some yin to balance it out! ;)

                    i'm with nothingswrong on the SmartWater - i rarely buy bottled water, but i swear it's more effective than regular water at keeping me hydrated when i fly.

                    1. re: goodhealthgourmet

                      I'll be picking some up soon.

                      I doubt I'll get into yoga. A few friends kept convincing me to try walking to see if I'd like it. "Same benefits, better on the joints, we're getting older, blah blah" and I've been doing it for a while, but going back to running soon. As long as I can keep running I will. I have a nordictrack (love it, have had it forever) which I use once and sometimes twice daily, hour sessions, but if I'm not running I'll try to get on a few times a day. I have other daily classes too, (nothing to do with a gym or spinning, pilates, etc.) but these kill me more than anything else. I drink water afterwards more as an afterthought (this is true, believe me) but when I'm home I do consume large amounts of plain seltzer.

                      I wouldn't do yoga or meditation because it would be more of a chore and I've got enough of them, but you never know maybe there's something else out there ;)

                  2. re: nothingswrong

                    I think Gatorade definitely has it's purpose. If running or biking long distance, it's great. If I'm burning 1000 calories in a workout, the last thing I'm concerned about is the sugar content in Gatorade - bring it on.

                    Ditto with long hikes, especially in the desert. I read once that the most common cause of death at the Grand Canyon was hyponatremia - low sodium levels. Folks sweat a ton, and guzzle water, without replacing electrolytes, especially sodium. The same thing has happened recently at a few marathons - folks sweating a ton, losing sodium, and drinking a lot of water without replacing the sodium. The low plasma sodium leads to cells swelling.

                    If you're involved in heavy exercise and burning lots of calories, and/or sweating a ton a losing electrolytes, there's nothing wrong with a bottle of Gatorade.

                    As for taste, lots of studies have shown that folks drink more liquid when it tastes good, as compared to plain water. Personally, I like Gatorade (especially the red), but I can only find yellow powder, so I make it a little weaker.

                    1. re: foreverhungry

                      yes, all good to know. when i played AYSO soccer as a kid, we had a lot of doctor parents on the sidelines. even then, they would dilute our gatorade with water in a big cooler. they were adament that all that sodium/sugar wasn't necessary for your average workout. i believe the sodium wasn't necessarily the issue, as much as the sugar content. i definitely remember cramping constantly when i was competitively running (for about 6 years) and drinking gatorade between races. maybe it's just me. who cares, i don't think it will really do anyone any harm! was just sharing my two cents.

                      hyponatremia is rare amongst those of us in the average workout category. or, if your workout routine is like mine--parking your car a few spaces over from the ones closest to the entrance of the grocery store. what can i say, i've become utterly lazy :)

                2. re: nothingswrong

                  I thought I was lactose intolerant until I switched to raw milk. Problem gone. Actually, my digestion issues have improved 10x.

                  1. re: salvatoregianpaolo

                    i've heard this from a few people, as well as kefir milk. good to know.

                  2. re: nothingswrong

                    No, the recovery mixes are pretty good. At least I like them. I use one that's watermelon flavored, one that chocolate flavored. I certainly wouldn't equate them to a good milk shake, but that's not the purpose. They taste fine enough for me to guzzle one down after a long workout.

                    After a hard workout, I don't really care too much about flavor. I'm pretty exhausted, so getting anything in, especially if it's liquid, is the goal. Yogurt, granola, dried fruit, all sound like great options. Personally, I like the convenience of being able to put some powder in a plastic bottle, bring a bottle of ice water and keep it in the car (if mountain biking or at the gym), and whether I go back to the car or run or bike back to home, add water and pound something down. Especially in the car, it's easy to consume.

                    1. re: nothingswrong

                      I've been seeing a lot of articles showing up lately touting milk as a great after-workout drink.

                      It's not the first thing I think of when I'm hot and tired, but the science makes sense.

                      1. re: sunshine842

                        I think that shows the power of the National Dairy Council.

                        1. re: chowser

                          They do exert a ridiculous amount of power, and many of their claims are hogwash.

                          But as far as a post-workout recovery aid, chocolate milk is pretty good. It's not necessarily the best thing out there, but it has several advantages:
                          1) most people like the taste,
                          2) liquid form
                          3) relatively inexpensive when compared to powdered mixes
                          4) for those that aren't lactose intolerant, it's easily digestible
                          5) integrates well with a good diet
                          6) easily accessible by most

                          It may not the end-all, be-all that some folks claim, but it has the nutritional breakdown to be effective.

                          1. re: foreverhungry

                            thanks, foreverhungry -- I was reading non-sponsored reports about it from several sources.

                            1. re: foreverhungry

                              Yes, there are thousands of foods that do that but it's the power of dairy council that it's so often referred to as the ideal post workout drink. It comes up all the time--just look at this thread, at any blogs, generic workout articles. People hear it and repeat it and with the power of the internet, it's exponential. If the Almond Council had such power, people would think almond milk was the ideal post workout drink. It's all about clever marketing.

                              1. re: chowser

                                Eggs and cheese as well? These were all post-workout snacks for my boys (since they began grade-school).

                                Of course when they were with their teams they would drink gatorade (and I wish I knew about the powdered stuff at the time, thank you!), trail mix, rarely a nutri-grain bar. But since they were active everyday at home they'd want water, milk, hard-boiled eggs, cheddar, brown rice, sometimes pizza but not often. Always thought these were the best things for them. Was I wrong in thinking a hard-boiled egg would be better than a protein-bar? They learned how to eat like this from a young-age and they enjoy it. I guess I grew up thinking that the simplest foods were most wholesome but always curious to learn more.

                                1. re: lilgi

                                  Personally, I like real food over a protein bar but after an intense workout so wouldn't choose a protein bar either way, carbs are the most important so hard boiled eggs and fruit/juice would be good but not hard boiled eggs by themselves. But, it all depends on how intense the workouts are. I don't bother with anything other than water if I'm doing a less intense/or shorter workout. The key is replenished your glucose that you've just burned out. I'd ask them how they feel, post workout with different foods and see what makes them feel best.

                                  1. re: chowser

                                    Okay, always stressed carbs more pre-workout and protein afterwards. After posting realized I left out stuff like fruit (they'll eat it sometimes but they'll take a hard-boiled over that because they love it - btw can you see how I praise the egg, haha), peanut butter sandwiches (no jelly), yogurt (always had it on hand just in case but always secondary). But my sister relies on different foods for hers; we both had different food practices for our kids.

                                    Of course it's okay for them to have sugar (you know I bake all the time), but I was always careful about that and what they eat in between so I always stressed sugarless foods realizing that it starts to interfere with other foods that are healthier.

                                2. re: chowser

                                  I think one of the important pieces is that, given what we think makes a good post-workout recovery food, chocolate milk IS a good choice. It's not like the Dairy Council is hyping something that won't get the job done. In this case, they're right. It is a good option. The best? No, probably not. But nonetheless a good option. I don't think there's anything wrong in that.

                                  1. re: foreverhungry

                                    (responding to foreverhungry only as a means of adding to the conversation...not picking on you in particular)

                                    when I had my coaching card for youth sports, we were told that hard-boiled eggs were a really, really good choice for kids, especially after a tough workout (we were in Florida at the time, and tough workouts in Florida heat are extra-hard on your body) because they are a very complete form of protein, but are very, very easy to digest, which is important because a drained body is diverting the circulation to the extremities, which makes upset stomachs after a hard work out much more likely.

                                    1. re: sunshine842

                                      I'm glad to know this really. It's a lot of work to start kids on good foods when they're young, and I did most of this without any kind of research, even when they were more active. I thought my instincts were off, I'm glad I was on the right track.

                                      Forever I think that when they're older if that's the only way they'll drink milk then at least that's something.

                                    2. re: foreverhungry

                                      It bothers me because it's touted as the "ideal" recovery so often and the only reason it is is only because it has the 4:1 ratio and the Dairy Council promotes it as such. Using that. I could make the case for cake and a slice of turkey. People don't understand it and just repeat what they've heard.

                                      1. re: chowser

                                        I don't think anybody here was saying it's ideal...but if it fits the ratio profile, why is it a bad thing to tell people about it?

                                        There are an awful lot of people who think that kids ought to be pumped full of Gatorade and an awful lot of people who think that kids shouldn't be drinking anything but plain water...neither of those are true, either....so why all the fuss over a healthier alternative?

                                        1. re: chowser

                                          If you are "sans-sugar" which was almost a religion to me with respect to the boys and snacking, there's no need to go to cake, for milk and eggs after a workout. I'm thinking milk and eggs on their own hold a lot more weight healthwise than cake. All pro the turkey idea though ;)

                                          But the sugar thing was my point and also why I'm against gatorade, only because I tend to look at the bigger picture. After dinner they eat what they want, but they usually don't crave the junk food during the day.

                                          1. re: lilgi

                                            During/after a workout, you want immediate glucose which is sugar to your system-- and which is why gatorade is helpful (though for me, it's only a during replenishment and if I'm going out for a long time). Chocolate milk is a huge amount of sugar added to milk. I have nothing against it but it bothers me that marketing/politics has such a big play in the fact that it's the first people tout--just google "ideal recovery drink" and you'll get chocolate milk in most of the responses. Milk and eggs don't provide the necessary sugar your body needs, post workout, unless you add something like the sugar of chocolate milk. Eggs washed down with orange juice would be great but sugar, in some form, is needed.

                                            And, this is ony during/post really intense workouts. Our bodies have completely different needs at other times. At other times, those JT chocolate chip cookies are the ideal mental recovery food.:-)

                                            1. re: chowser

                                              Chowser, if you are used to sugar in your system you will need it. My kids have never felt more wiped out than anyone else, and they prefer water to gatorade. You are quoting back what you have read from a book/the net based on what most Americans eat, and I am telling you that what I do at home is is discussed specifically with a professional and their pediatricians, especially having been so active myself. You feel the sugar necessary, we don't. And JT cookies didn't come till much later in their lives, and only sometimes hours after dinner.

                                              Lots of things are instinctive to me, but they have been discussed further. Their coaches/pediatricians love milk. And my kids love their eggs.

                                              1. re: lilgi

                                                good heavens, you two -- you both keep insisting that people realize that people are different and should accept that different solutions are possible, but then you come back and snark at each other for not accepting *their* rules!

                                                Feed your kids 4:1 with calorie loads of +/- 300 calories and leave each other alone.

                                                1. re: sunshine842

                                                  I'm totally fine with what you're saying Sunshine. We DO have a different system here, and it works well for us. I was an endurance runner myself.

                                                  1. re: sunshine842

                                                    But see, you're going back to your rule of 4:1 which means you're saying that what lilgi is doing is wrong. Why is your 4:1 rule the "right" one? Lilgi has had good results with all protein/fat in the hard boiled eggs so you're telling her she's wrong? I think if it works for her, it does. I thought she was asking advice on it and I've been talking about it based on peer reviewed studies, as has Salvatore, but she's happy with what she's doing and you're the one telling her to stick to the 4:1 ratio.

                                                  2. re: lilgi

                                                    I'm not quoting back based on how Americans eat--it's based on the science, as salvatoregianpalo has said, of aerobic fuel that is predominantly glucose/glycogen which are simple carbs. If you burn it off, you want to replenish it.

                                                    I'm curious, when you were an endurance runner, what did you do to refuel during LSDs?

                                                    1. re: chowser

                                                      I only carried water and trail mix. And I barely drank my water or ate. I hated carrying it too because I never drank. At home I'd go through more plain seltzer than you can imagine.

                                                      But we are acustomed to eating/drinking before so as not to dehydrate. Based on our healthy lifestyle and what we take in before a strenuous workout, I'm not discussing sugar any further. I'd written everything out and all has been stamped and approved. Now they are older, they'll pretty much eat what they want ;)

                                                      1. re: chowser

                                                        Since this is getting even more far afield from Home Cooking than it already was, we've split some of the follow-up over to our Not About Food board: http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/772775

                              2. Back when I was swimming, a favorite protein snack was beef jerky, either bought or homemade. Also try breads made with bean flours, as these have lots of protein. Oven roasted chickpeas/garbanzo beans are delicious and addictive. I remember some of the boys liking those protein drinks, but I thought they were nasty.

                                1. I'm serious with this - Bake him cake. It's tasty and "real" food. I'm not anti-bar, since I do have it maybe once a week, but come on... Anyway, you're right on the nuts, since they're not a complete protein. Animal sources are better, since they're always complete and generally have a higher bio-availability rating. When it comes to baked goods ingredients, eggs (Probably the best when it comes to absorption and value) and ricotta (The 30 minute absorbed whey protein) are great sources. I guess the obvious is an Italian Cheesecake. Doesn't that sound way better than a bar? Besides, it has a lot more carbs, which is more important for endurance athletes (fuel!).

                                  As a side, casein (the other/main milk protein) takes forever to digest, so if he likes it, Greek yogurt (actual, not the lousy "Greek style") is a great snack to have throughout the day and right before sleeping.

                                  1. Mini cans of tuna. With crackers maybe?