Foods to Avoid After a Workout
The last thing you want to do after you’ve just grunted and sweated and nearly passed out after an intense hour of working out is to negate all that work by eating the wrong kind of food. You’d be surprised what kinds of food aren’t ideal post-workout munchies. Some of these foods may be generally good for you, just not after your workout.
Your main post-workout concern should be how to provide your body with the right kind of nutrition it needs to recover. At this point, assuming you have worked yourself out to exhaustion, your body is screaming to be fed. How does it do this? Through cravings that’s how. Unfortunately most of us don’t understand our bodies enough to know that it’s not really craving fatty, salty and starchy French fries. It’s craving protein, complex carbs and electrolytes such as potassium.
To reward your body with the kind of nutrition it needs after you’ve worked yourself to the bone, avoid these kinds of foods after a workout.
1. SUGARY SWEET CONCOCTIONS
You feel a little hypoglycemic after an intense cardio session, you open the fridge and spot a half-eaten pack of Oreos beckoning to your sugar starved body, what do you do? The answer is: look away and reach for a banana. Oreos are probably bad enough as they are, but they are especially bad after a workout because you’re bound to eat more than you need and because of the nature of these junk foods the excess energy that comes from them will be converted to fat faster than you can say “burpee”.
2. HIGH SODIUM FOOD
It is perfectly normal to look for salty food after a workout. Salt is an electrolyte after all and is also necessary for keeping the homeostatic balance within your body. The worst thing about salty cravings though is that you are highly likely to reach for chips or fries or savory things like burgers. An increase of sodium in the body takes potassium out of the cells and potassium is crucial for avoiding dehydration and cramping after a workout.
3. SPORTS DRINKS
Sports drinks aren’t so bad compared to other things but it is almost always completely unnecessary. Unless you workout in heavily humid conditions in high temperatures you probably don’t need it. Water is still better for hydration and if you’re worried about electrolytes, eat high potassium foods like banana or melons instead.
4. BURGERS AND STEAKS
Whoever said that you can eat ANYTHING after a workout might have been stretching it a bit. Yes, protein is crucial for muscle recovery but when indulging in high protein and high fat meals you are completely cancelling out all your hard work by introducing fat too soon after the workout. Ingesting fat makes your digestive system digest slower and slows down your metabolism which is completely opposite of what you want out of your workout.
They seem harmless enough, right? Light, flakey and all sorts of wonderful – they shouldn’t be so bad. After an intense workout your body will most likely start to crave for sugar to replace fuel lost during the workout, but high fructose syrup, zero nutrient, fat loaded treats shouldn’t be the way to go. We’re picky about the way we fuel our cars, why can’t we be picky about the way we load up fuel for our bodies. Choose more wholesome options like whole wheat bagels with natural peanut butter.
The only thing worse than feeding your body garbage is not feeding it at all, if you want to look lean, toned and healthy instead of just “skinny” you have to be prepared to treat your body right. Right up there in treating your body right is feeding it with the best quality nutrients out there.
It cannot be said enough that nutrition is just as crucial to our health as physical activity is. In fact, it might be even more important as you cannot simply out-train a bad diet. To make the most out of your hard work treat your body well. Choose high quality protein that is low in salt. Fat is also important to our diet, but stick to natural unsaturated fat. Even carbohydrates are important, just be sure to be getting them through grain, fruits and vegetables instead of from high fructose syrup.
There is an old adage that goes, “If you are good to your body, your body will be good to you” and there is no better way to be good to your body than by feeding it with high quality nutrients after a long hard workout.