If you go hard at the gym, then you probably come home ravenous and ready to eat everything in your kitchen. It’s similar to the feeling you had when you’d come home after school during puberty, and your parents couldn’t keep the pantry stocked enough to keep up with your hungry hormones. But, unlike when you were a developing teenager, your body can no longer handle a pop tart, a slice of cold pizza, apple sauce, Snickers, and ramen noodles all in one sitting. Not even all in one day, if we’re honest. That is especially true on the days you exercise. Your body is in a unique state after a workout, and you can either capitalize on some of the changes happening inside of it or destroy them, depending on what you eat. Here are foods to avoid after a workout.
Carrots and celery
While these usually make a perfectly healthy snack, your body needs protein and carbs right now. You just depleted it of energy, and you need to refuel it. A veggie platter isn’t going to make the cut. Go for pita and hummus instead if you’re in a dipping mood.
Cheese has its merits as a post-workout food. But packaged string cheese you find at the grocery store is usually full of extra ingredients that can confuse your metabolism. Stick to pure, low-fat mozzarella.
Any old smoothie
If you want a smoothie after a workout, get one with added protein. This can be whey protein or your favorite nut butter. Your body is ready to burn fat right night, but if you feed it tons of sugar without a protein base, this can interfere with the fat-burning process.
A burger and fries
Since you’ve lost electrolytes during your workout, you’ll be craving some sodium. But don’t get it in the form of a burger and fries or any favorite drive-thru meal. You’ll ruin all your hard work. You’re better off snacking on pretzels.
Not all protein bars are created equal. You need to look at the sugar-to-protein ratio. Even if a bar has tons of protein, if it also has tons of sugar, then it will interfere with your metabolizing of the protein.
Don’t stop by the steak house after a workout. It may seem like hunks of meat and muscle go hand in hand, but your body needs lean proteins that are easy to digest right now. Steak doesn’t fit that category.
If you need a quick burst of protein after an intense workout, eggs are a good way to go. But be careful of restaurant scrambles since these are usually made with high amounts of butter or vegetable oil. If you must have a scramble, make one at home with olive oil.
What’s wrong with a BLT? The bacon. You can have a few strips in the morning, but keep in mind that this stuff is not easy on your digestion. It’s similar to steak; it isn’t a lean protein, and your body has to work hard to break it down.
Nothing sounds quite as refreshing as a fizzy soda after a workout. But you need to rehydrate more than ever right now, and a soda will dehydrate you. It will also cause bloat, making your new muscle definition hard to see.
Hot sauce, peppers, and sriracha
Really, anything spicy is a bad idea after a workout. Have you ever noticed the way you feel sweaty and out of breath after eating spicy food? That’s because your body needs to do a big job to digest the stuff. That’s a job it can’t handle after a big workout.
We sort of touched on this in the fast food slide, but it’s important to avoid all fried foods after a workout. The oils these are made in make it difficult for nutrients to get to where they need to go in your body. But your body desperately needs the efficient delivery of nutrients after a workout.
A candy bar
A chocolate bar that includes almonds or peanuts doesn’t sound half bad, right? It has protein, doesn’t it? Well, yes, but more than that, it has sugar and processed ingredients, which will mess up your metabolism.
But they’re called sports drinks. True, but a lot of them have too much sugar, as well as a long list of processed ingredients. This means a blood sugar spike, then a crash, and a lot of confusion for your metabolism. Try coconut water instead.
Kale, bran, and dark grains
By all means, get more fiber in your diet. But don’t do it immediately after a workout. You may not notice your body’s process of digesting fiber under normal circumstances, but after an aggressive workout, you could experience cramping from fiber intake.
A lot of sports drinks companies make gummy candies that allegedly have the same nutrients as their beverages. But as we stated before, their beverages can be high in sugar and processed ingredients. The gummy versions usually have even more of those.
At least one with beans. The high fiber in beans will bring your digestion to a halt, but you want it working at its pique capacity right now, breaking down the complex carbs and protein you’re feeding it.
You may like to reward yourself for a workout with a cocktail, but this will kick your inhibitions out the window. Then, you’ll end up eating all of the other foods on this list.
Fruit can be a good post-workout treat, like a potassium-loaded banana or antioxidant-heavy blueberries. But fruit juice has all the sugar of fruit and none of the benefits. Stick to water and coconut water for hydration after a workout.
Some pre-packaged shakes
There’s an entire industry around protein shakes, and some are great for you! But many feature long lists of artificial ingredients that will interrupt your body’s important post-workout processes. Read labels, and find the purest one.
Whatever you do, eat something after your workout. If you don’t munch on something after the gym, your body will munch on the muscles you just built, destroying your progress.
Post-workout nutrition is crucial for muscle recovery and overall health. While the temptation to indulge might be strong after an intense session at the gym, it’s essential to make informed choices about what to consume.
Foods that are high in sugar, processed ingredients, or lack the necessary nutrients can hinder recovery and negate the benefits of your workout. Instead, focus on consuming a balanced mix of proteins, carbohydrates, and healthy fats to support muscle growth and replenish lost energy.
Remember, the goal is to nourish the body, not just satisfy immediate cravings. Making the right food choices post-exercise can make all the difference in achieving your fitness goals.