9 Essential Energy and Recovery Foods

Get better at the sports you play and the life you lead at STACK. Improve your training, nutrition and lifestyle with daily

Your body works 'round the clock to repair itself. But your hefty workload means you need the right tools available at all times. New York Giants nutrition consultant Heidi Skolnik offers the following list of portable foods to keep on hand, so your body will always be energized to workout and recover.

A single-serving box is an easy way to transport energy to your muscles. If you're approaching practice, opt for one with low fiber content. If you've got nothing on the workout agenda, go for a higher fiber cereal.

Orange juice
Outside of performance, Skolnik suggests guzzling nutrient-dense beverages, such as 100 percent orange juice. This sweet 100 calorie option offers about a day's worth of vitamin C.

Beef jerky
Beef jerky has salt, which you lose a lot of through sweat, and it offers about 10 grams of protein per serving, good for muscle building.

Bananas are a great source of potassium, which aids in regulating electrolyte balance and muscle contraction. Skolnik suggests pairing protein and carbs, so try a banana with Cherry Pharm or chocolate milk.

Energy bar
Keep a high-carb one handy as a reserve pre-practice energy source. Skolnik prefers consuming it about one hour prior.

The most appropriate time for an energy gel or a sports drink like Gatorade is during activity, Skolnik says. She notes the need to take in between 30 and 60 grams of carbs per hour. Gatorade delivers 14 grams per eight ounces, along with key electrolytes [sodium, potassium and chloride] to maintain hydration and prevent cramping.

A quarter-cup of almonds delivers about 15 grams of healthy fats, along with a high dose of antioxidants, such as vitamin E, a fat-soluble vitamin that helps protect muscles against the oxidative stress from intense activity. Skolnik recommends pairing with apricots for a more satiating snack.

"Everyone could eat more fruits and vegetables and get in more phytonutrients," says Skolnik. This easy option is a source of fiber and beta-carotene which helps reduce swelling, and therefore soreness. Bonus: dried fruit doesn't bruise.

The goals of fueling after an exhausting workout, according to Skolnik, are "to push muscle building, diminish muscle breakdown and replenish the fuel you've used." You can aid the process with CherryPharm, which packs 50 cherries in each bottle. For added protein, go for the Recovery option, which offers eight grams of whey. It's a post-workout preferred drink of several NCAA D-I teams.

Photo Credit: Getty Images // Thinkstock