Smart Snacks to Have After Indoor Cycling

Indoor cycling is notorious for revving up people’s appetites, not immediately after the session but an hour or two later. That doesn’t mean you can or should eat whatever you want to. In fact, that’s where some people go wrong: They figure that since they just completed a killer cycling session and torched loads of calories, it means they can scarf down anything they want. In a perfect world, that might be true. In our world, it’s not true, especially if you want to slim down. Even if you were to burn 500 calories in a 45-minute class, you could consume more than that with a few chicken nuggets and a medium serving of French fries or a handful of cookies.

But this doesn’t mean you should deprive yourself, either; after all, if you become ravenous later, you could end up overeating. Plus, since your body uses stored energy (in the form of glycogen) to fuel your indoor cycling workout, you’ll want to replenish those reserves soon after your workout. All it takes to do that is a small snack with a three-to-one ratio of carbohydrates to protein, according to the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. Have it within an hour after your workout, and be sure to exercise portion (and calorie) control; drink lots of water, too, to replenish the fluids you lost through sweat.

What follows are three smart post-cycling snacks to hasten your recovery. 

Reach for a Small Handful of Tart Cherries and Almonds

It’s a dynamic duo of carbs and protein. A 2015 study from the U.K. found that when cyclists who performed high-intensity intervals consumed tart cherries, their post-exercise recovery was accelerated and their level of exercise-induced inflammation was reduced. Since tart cherries are mostly carbohydrates, almonds are a great accompaniment; almonds are nearly equal parts protein and carbs—16 almonds have 4 grams of protein and just a little more than 4 grams of carbs. Stick with a small handful, and you’ll get the nutrients you need for just over 200 calories.

Have Greek Yogurt with Berries

Plain non-fat Greek yogurt is loaded with protein and carbohydrates and it's low in sugar. Top a small bowl or carton of it with fresh or frozen blueberries, blackberries, strawberries, or raspberries, and you’ve got a delicious, nutritious post-workout snack. After all, the four types of berries are great sources of carbohydrates and anti-inflammatory antioxidants; in fact, they’re very high on the scale of Oxygen Radical Absorption Capacity (the ORAC score), which ranks the degree to which various foods can inhibit oxidative stress. The tasty combo will help repair your muscle tissue, restore your energy, and curb your appetite—it’s a triple win, any way you look at it.

A Well-Balanced Energy Bar

Some energy bars are little more than glorified candy bars that happen to wear a health halo (thanks to marketing efforts). But others offer real nutritional value, and because they’re portable, they make a handy post-workout snack. In the latter category, good choices include: Lower-sugar varieties of KIND Bars such as Maple Glazed Pecan & Sea Salt, Madagascar Vanilla Almond, and Dark Chocolate Nuts & Sea Salt; each of these has 210 calories, 4 to 5 grams of sugar, and 5 to 6 grams of protein. By contrast, Health Warrior Chia Bars and Chia Protein Bars, which come in flavors such as Chocolate Peanut Butter, Acai Berry, and Dark Chocolate Coconut Sea Salt, have only 100 to 210 calories and 3 to 10 grams of protein apiece. A bar and a bottle of water make a convenient, satisfying post-cycling snack.