Did you know you could wipe out your gains by eating the wrong foods after you walk away from your workout? Too many of us make this mistake without realizing it. Check out the foods you need to avoid, but first see what your post-workout goals are.
1. Immediate Goals
After an intense workout, you need to refuel, rehydrate, and repair. That’s what Registered Dietitian, Marie Spano, writes in Today’s Dietitian. Refuel with the proper carbohydrates. Rehydrate with the proper drink. Repair with a protein. Many of us may might know this, but we’re choosing the wrong foods.
We’ll get to those foods in a minute. First, you should know that after a workout, protein is your muscles’ friend. It begins rebuilding the tissue you just broke down. Manuel Villacorta, a registered dietitian at the American Dietetic Association, suggests eating at least 30 grams of protein as part of your post-workout routine.
Glycogen is the fuel that helped you work out. It’s stored in muscles, and if you are feeling fatigued from the exercise, you diminished your supply of glycogen. (Nice job!) Carbohydrates will help replenish them. Ideally, you can combine protein with the carbs and get on with your day.
4. When To Eat
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The best time to refuel and begin repairing your muscle tissue is within 30 minutes of your last rep. According to Spano, it is this time your muscles will be most receptive to the nutrients. Mensfitness.com recommends eating within 15 minutes if your goal is to build muscle, and if staying in shape or shedding pounds is your objective, you have up to 45 minutes. Just make sure you don’t eat the following foods…
5. Raw Veggies
What’s wrong with eating a cucumber or a carrot while the sweat is still glistening? They lack calories. You don’t want an abundance of calories, but you need to restore your energy. Combine your carrot (or whatever veggie) with a higher-calorie delicious dip. Like humus or nut butter. Or even yogurt. Watch the calories though! You need to get enough. But you also don’t want to overload. That will undo what you just achieved.
6. Salty Snacks
According to a Men’s Fitness article and livestrong.com, salty snacks can deplete your potassium levels. Potassium is a mineral that is good for your muscles. It’s also an electrolyte. However, sodium (another electrolyte), competes with potassium. Salt can diminish your body’s supply of K. (That’s chemistry code for potassium.) Avoid salty pretzels, salty cheeses, etc. Potato chips are high in salt. They’re also high in potassium. This writer has not been able to reconcile why others say to avoid chips. : / Could be the high fat.
7. Fast Food
We know you don’t eat fast food after working out. You don’t, right? Though convenient on your race from the gym to wherever is next, one burger might replenish the calories you just burned. It can also slow your digestion. Possibly worst of all, if you eat a fast food burger, you’ll be scavenging for more food in an hour. Pack a snack for the car and skip the drive-thru.
8. Soda Pop
After a workout, you’ll want to replenish your water. Soda pop is not the way to do it. One can’s worth of cola has 9 grams of sugar. You might be better served swallowing the almost two teaspoons of sugar and washing it down with a cup of water. (Don’t do that.) Don’t drink cola, either. It’s bad for every part of your body. Except maybe your tongue. What about sports drinks? Read on…
9. Sports Drinks
Numerous sources state that sports drinks, like Gatorade, are beneficial. That is, after hour-long workouts or short but intense workouts. If your routine does not meet those criteria, drink water. You’ll save on the sugars, the cost of the sports drink, and you’ll rehydrate effectively.
10. Candy Bar
What’s better than a candy bar? Two candy bars! But not after working out. Too much fat and sugar. Plus not enough nutritional benefit. However, (there’s always a “however”) Jim Stoppani eats candy after his workouts. Jim has a doctorate in exercise physiology, writes for bodybuilding.com, and has a body of steel. There is another sweet that science supports: chocolate milk. It delivers carbs, protein, and it’s easy to consume. Clint Wattenberg, Cornell University’s coordinator of sports nutrition, said, “The composition of low-fat chocolate milk is probably the gold standard for a recovery beverage.”
One-arm curls with a beer, or any alcoholic drink, shouldn’t follow any exercise routine. Save the spirits for later. Alcohol makes it hard for the body to rehydrate and, according to a Men’s Fitness article, it may hinder muscle recovery. That’s two strikes against throwing one back after the gym.
Tempting. We know. And it’s true that your body needs carbs after a workout…and pastries have caaaarbs. But not the carbs your body needs right now. These fruit-filled or frosted cakes have protein, too. That’s great. What’s not great is the high amount of calories. And fat. And sugar. And little other nutritional benefits. The minuses outweigh the gains.
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