You’ve just hit the gym for an hour, or maybe you just came back from a long run. You need a post-workout snack because of all the nutrients you’ve lost, but are unsure of what to eat. Here is a comprehensive list of foods you should never eat after a workout, regardless of how much you might be craving them.
1. Raw Vegetables
Yes, you did read that correctly. While raw vegetables are essential to a healthy and balanced diet, they are not what you need straight after a workout. This is because you’ve just lost a great deal of vitamins, minerals and nutrients whilst exercising, and raw veggies simply aren’t substantial enough to supplement them. This is maybe the only time where such low calorie foods actually work against you. You need extra protein and fiber in order to replenish your stores and help to repair muscle tissue. So by all means, have some raw vegetables post-workout–just make sure you balance it with other types of food. I recommend combining them with hummus or a delicious yogurt-based dip.
As previously mentioned, the body needs fiber after a workout. It also needs high-quality carbs in order to replace the glycogen in your system. Despite the fact that pastries contain both of these things, they are certainly not the right choice for a post-workout snack. Pastries are full of unhealthy carbohydrates as well as salt, sugar, fat and calories. Instead, opt for wholegrain or multigrain toast or some raw nuts.
3. Milk Chocolate
This may seem a bit obvious, but a great deal of people find that they crave chocolate or something else sweet after exercising. This is because they have lost sugars during their workout and their body is telling them that they need more. Ignore this urge! Milk chocolate is full of bad fats and glucose–both of which are terrible for your health. If you’re craving something sweet, have some fresh fruit. Or if you really can’t control that chocolate craving try a piece of dark chocolate instead, preferably 70% cocoa or higher. Dark chocolate contains a great deal of of antioxidants that not only fight free radicals in your body, but also work as an anti-inflammatory, which is what you need after a workout.
4. Fast Food
Another obvious one, but it’s definitely worth mentioning. Similar to sugar, salt is something you can crave after a workout. Again, this is because it needs replenishing in your body. It can be tempting to grab something quick and easy such a burger or fries, but they will be detrimental to your diet. You won’t be replacing the right kind of fats or salts in your body, and you’ll be adding a large dose of bad trans fats. In addition, you’ll be undoing all of the great work you did during your exercise. As an alternative, try a potassium-rich banana or some avocado.
5. Salty Snacks
You need to avoid these for exactly the same reasons as fast food. Those potato chips may seem tempting, but what you really need is to replenish those potassium stores. Step away from the Doritos and hold tight to the aforementioned banana.
6. Sugary Snacks
Your body may be craving sugar after a workout, but that doesn’t mean that you should be reaching for a bag of candy. Besides the obvious high calorie issue of sugar-filled snacks, there is another important reason to avoid them. Sugar isn’t only high in calories, it’s also known for slowing down your metabolism. So basically you would be doing double damage to your diet and negating all the hard work you just did.
7. Energy Bars
I know, I know–energy bars are known for aiding your workout! Although this is true, they’re only beneficial before exercise. This is due to their high sugar levels, among other things, which makes them great for a pre-workout because they increase your energy levels. However, post-workout, they will slow down your metabolism and make it difficult for you to fall asleep. This is a huge problem if you’re a nighttime exerciser.
In addition to all of the aforementioned damage that high sugar contents food and beverages can do, there is another reason to avoid soda after a workout–they make you bloat. You need to hydrate after exercise, and soda won’t help you with that. Water all the way.
Highly processed and fat-filled cheese are a terrible choice for a post-workout snack, regardless of how delicious they are. If you really need a cheese fix, opt for a low mozzarella on multigrain toast. But use sparingly!
10. Fried Eggs
In general, eggs are a fantastic source of protein and choline (which is needed for a healthy heart) after you exercise. However, frying them up is a mistake. This is because they usually get fried in butter or oil, both of which are saturated fats. In order to get the most out of your eggs without damaging your health, either boil them or have them raw in a protein shake or smoothie.