You may have heard that “food is fuel," but can you use food to snack your way into a stronger workout? With superfoods like milk and cottage cheese, you sure can.
Milk has 13 essential nutrients that can support a healthy and active lifestyle and can even enhance athletic performance. While nutrition is a crucial component of exercise, it’s also important to properly time your snacks to get the most out of your workout.
To know which nutrients to focus on, and when to focus on them, it’s helpful to break your snacking into two categories: pre-workout and post-workout. We’ve included a number of delicious recipes below for each, but first, here’s a quick breakdown showing how snacks that include milk and cottage cheese can fuel your workout and help you recover after exercising:
Food is the original pre-workout fuel for powering your body through its daily tasks, including exercise.
When: Eat a balanced snack about two hours before your workout.
What: Include carbohydrates and protein. Try to keep the fat content a bit lower because fat digests very slowly and can sit heavy during your workout. Never forget to hydrate, especially if you're outside in warm weather! 
Why: The carbohydrates will give you energy, and the protein jumpstarts your muscle repair post-workout. Also, milk and cottage cheese naturally contain carbohydrates and high-quality protein that work together to build a balanced snack and provide sustained energy throughout your workout.
To ensure all your hard work doesn’t go to waste, it’s important to refuel your body properly.
When: Grab a snack within 30-60 minutes after your workout
What: Aim for a 3:1 ratio of carbohydrates to protein. Focus on hydrating with fluids and electrolytes.
Why: To include nutrients that will focus on the 3 R’s of recovery:
Refuel with carbohydrates to replace those that were used during exercise and replenish glycogen stores to give you energy for the next workout.
Rebuild with protein that will help with muscle healing and growth.
Rehydrate by replacing the fluids and electrolytes that were lost during exercise.
The carbohydrates and protein in milk that fueled your pre-workout can also help with replenishing energy stores and rebuilding muscle after your workout. Beyond that, research suggests milk may even hydrate better than water due to its 87% water content and naturally occurring electrolytes including calcium, potassium, and magnesium that replace fluid and electrolytes lost through sweat.
Need to keep your post-workout recovery simple? Reach for a glass of chocolate milk that hydrates well and contains that ideal 3:1 ratio of carbohydrate-to-protein.
Ready to snack your way into a stronger workout? Check out these recipes for some ideas!
Oatmeal features complex carbohydrates that digest slowly and give you sustained energy throughout your workout. Here, these carbohydrates are paired with milk’s protein for a balanced pre-workout snack.
Cottage cheese is a good source of high quality protein and pairs perfectly with the carbohydrates from the English muffin. The banana adds some extra carbohydrate energy as well as potassium, an important electrolyte that helps with hydration and fluid balance.
Smoothies make a great post-workout recovery snack and this one features carbohydrates from fruit and high quality protein from dairy. This recipe also features the 3:1 carbohydrate to protein ratio that makes it a great post workout snack.
Overnight oats also make a great post-workout snack because they can be prepped ahead of time. Balance out those carbohydrates with the protein from the chocolate milk to refuel and rebuild after exercise.
Hydrating after a sweaty workout is an important part of recovery, and this bowl can help you do just that. The grapefruit is about 91% water and the natural electrolytes in the cottage cheese will help rehydrate—and get you ready for your next workout!
Lauren Twigge is the founder of Lauren Twigge Nutrition, LLC providing a variety of Nutrition Services including healthy eating education, weight management, mindful eating overview, and other nutrition topics.
 Maughan RJ, Watson P, Cordery PA, Walsh NP, Oliver SJ, Dolci A, Rodriguez-Sanchez N, Galloway SD. A randomized trial to assess the potential of different beverages to affect hydration status: development of a beverage hydration index. Am J Clin Nutr. 2016 Mar;103(3):717-23. doi: 10.3945/ajcn.115.114769. Epub 2015 Dec 23. PMID: 26702122.