Worried that you’ll somehow miss out on all your hard-earned gains if you don’t chug down that expensive protein shake as soon as you’re done sweating? Yup, that’s the power of the supplement industry.
Conventional wisdom advises chowing down on a high-protein, high-carbohydrate meal within two hours of finishing your exercise. But, there are some food that aren’t great for recovery. Luckily, we know all about why you should avoid these 8 foods after exercising.
Ideally, you want to finish your snack within 30 to 45 minutes of your workout. But, if you’re hitting the gym in between other time commitments, remembering to eat when you’re out-and-about can be tricky. Looking for great high-protein treats that you can prepare ahead of time? Sling these Superfood Chia Energy Bites in your bag. No baking required, and they only require minimal prep time.
‘Don’t eat before you exercise’ versus ‘Go on, skip the post-workout meal’
With all this contradictory advice, why bother with post-workout nutrition? First of all, you’re probably hungry. This is your body crying out for you to replenish the nutrients lost as stored energy in your muscles (glycogen) was used up. Another real reason to eat something after you work out is to trigger an insulin response.
Proper post-workout nutrition will:
- Increase muscle protein synthesis and reduce the muscle protein breakdown elicited by exercise.
- Replenish muscle glycogen (stored energy) that was used to power through your workout.
- Reduce muscle fatigue and next-day soreness.
- In fact, recent research supports the idea that your post-workout meal is only truly important if a pre-workout meal had not been eaten.
So what’s actually important?
This means if you’re just exercising to improve overall health, improve your energy levels, and build good aesthetics, what matters is how much and what you eat rather than the meal’s precise timing and composition. This might sound complicated, but actually, it’s pretty simple.
Maximize your time spent in the gym by avoiding these 8 foods after exercising. These foods just aren’t doing you any favors.
Why You Should Avoid These 8 Foods After Exercising
1. Sports drinks
Avoid the seductive marketing of perfectly carved athletes clutching their brightly colored “hydration and electrolyte replenishment.” Often high in artificial sweeteners or sugar, these drinks are only really advisable if you are training for a marathon. Instead, choose a healthy protein smoothie, coconut water, or plain good ole water.
Caffeine can lead to dehydration. It can also raise your body’s stress hormone levels. This rise in cortisol can increase inflammation, cardiovascular issues, and hormonal imbalances. Drinking caffeine before your workout can be potentially beneficial to give you an energy boost, though.
3. Sugary shakes
Keep your eyes peeled for hidden sugars, fillers, chemicals, and bulking agents in protein powders and on-the-go shakes. Looking for alternatives? This tropical green tea post-workout drink is delicious and also contains a powerful punch of antioxidants to help repair free radical damage to your cells.
Alternatively, chocolate lovers will positively devour this cocoa powder and peanut butter concoction. Its 10 grams of protein will keep you feeling full all morning long.
4. Processed energy bars
Stop reaching for those store-bought “granola bars” when you need an energy boost. Not only do they often include ingredients that you’ll have trouble pronouncing, but they’re also loaded with refined sugars. That means a short energy boost followed by an energy crash and burn. Check out these cleaner Oat and Fruit Chocolate Chip Granola Bars.
5. Low-carbohydrate options
Carbohydrates are just as important as protein for post-workout recovery. Avoid processed carbs and choose smarter, complex carbohydrates like legumes and whole-grains. Fruits like bananas, apples and kiwis also boost your carbohydrate intake whilst being dense in essential nutrients.
6. Salty foods
I always crave salt after my best workouts. This is because we lose both water and potassium as we sweat. Opting for a banana after hot yoga is a better option for replenishing salt and potassium levels without compromising on dehydration.
7. Fried foods
This one’s a no brainer. Or it should be. Fried food often contains harmful trans-fats and very little real nutritional value. Avoid that sluggish slump by choosing to bake or steam your food instead.
8. Eating nothing
Finally but perhaps most importantly, if you’re feeling weak or unfocused, that may well be your body telling you that it needs FUEL. If you forgot to eat before your session, the absolute worst thing you can do is to go hungry.