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Last Updated on November 27, 2020

What to Eat After a Workout? 10 Foods You Should Never Eat

What to Eat After a Workout? 10 Foods You Should Never Eat
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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 you’re unsure what to eat. While you’re likely wondering what to eat after a workout, knowing which foods you should never eat after a workout is just as important!

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 read that correctly. While raw vegetables are essential to a healthy and balanced diet, they don’t make for good post-workout foods. This is because you’ve just lost a great deal of vitamins, minerals, and nutrients while exercising, and raw veggies simply aren’t substantial enough to supplement them[1].

This is, perhaps, the only time where such low calorie foods actually work against you. You need extra grams of protein and fiber in order to replenish your stores and help to build muscle tissue.

So, by all means, have some raw vegetables post-workout—just make sure you balance it with something that offers protein or fiber. For example, you can have celery sticks a delicious yogurt-based dip or peanut butter, or carrots with hummus.

2. Pastries

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 not on the list of what to eat after a workout.

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. These contain good carbs, and the nuts will supply good fats.

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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.

One recent research review pointed out that “data from numerous studies suggest that cocoa and cocoa-derived flavanols can effectively modify the inflammatory process”[2]. This is great news for your body!

For more benefits of dark chocolate, check out this article.

4. Fast Food

This is 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.

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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[3]. These both contain healthy fats and have enough calories to satisfy your hungry body.

5. Salty Snacks

These should be on your list of foods you should never eat after a workout 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.

One study suggested that, due to sodium’s benefits in helping fluid absorption in the body, it can be beneficial to drink a sports drink that includes sodium, but only if you exercise for more than 4 hours. Most of us stick to workouts that only last an hour or two, so extra salt intake after a workout is generally unnecessary[4].

6. Sugary Snacks

If you’re wondering what to eat after a workout, you may start listening to your body, which is likely craving sugar after a workout. However, 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 to damage your metabolism. One study explained that “the fructose component in sugar causes dysregulation of lipid and carbohydrate metabolism”[5].

In simple terms, this means that added sugars, like those found in fruit juices, gets in the way of your metabolism’s natural regulation.

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Do yourself a favor and reach for something high in protein instead of high in sugar.

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 snack 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.

8. Soda

When making your list of what to eat after a workout, don’t include soda. In addition to all of the aforementioned damage that high-sugar foods and beverages can do, there is another reason to avoid soda after a workout: it makes you bloat. This may be due to the extra artificial sweeteners in soda.

After a workout, you need to hydrate, and the best way to do that is to drink water.

If you need some flavor in your water, learn how to replace soda with fruit water here!

9. High-Fat Cheeses

Highly processed and fat-filled cheeses, such as mozzarella or cheddar, are foods to avoid as a post-workout snack, regardless of how delicious they are.

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If you really need a cheese fix, cottage cheese is a great option as it has a high water content and many health benefits[6]. Throw in some pineapple or peach chunks to add in a burst of good sugars.

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, eat them hard-boiled or scrambled with a bit of olive oil. If you’re trying to lower your cholesterol, only eat the egg whites.

The Bottom Line

If you have given your time and energy to a great workout, it’s important to know what to eat after a workout so you don’t undo all the great work you’ve just put in. Avoid the foods on this list, and replace them with some of the alternatives I’ve suggested. You’ll keep yourself healthy and reap the benefits of your workout.

More on What to Eat After a Workout

Featured photo credit: Anastasiia Ostapovych via unsplash.com

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Tegan Jones

Tegan is a passionate journalist, writer and editor. She writes about lifestyle tips on Lifehack.

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Published on July 14, 2021

13 Best Foods to Eat at Night (Advice From a Health Coach)

13 Best Foods to Eat at Night (Advice From a Health Coach)
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We’ve all had late-night cravings. Those times when you would lie in bed but your mind is on the fridge. You try to fight it, but you find out that you can’t. Food—you want food—to chew and to drink and to swallow. It usually goes this way: after much hesitation, you would get off your bed and walk over to the kitchen where you would stand for seconds and maybe even minutes contemplating a lot of things.

You have heard about it—read about it, too—the famous “eating late at night isn’t good for you.” You know well about how eating late at night can cause you stress and make you gain weight. But you just want to eat—and eat you must.

But what must you eat? What are your best and most healthy options? Here are the 13 best foods to eat at night.

1. Turkey

If you aren’t a vegetarian, then you most probably love turkey. It is not only very tasty and delicious, but it is quite nutritious, too. Turkey contains a lot of protein. As little as 28 grams of turkey already contains eight grams of protein.[1]

It also contains some amount of vitamins and a nutritive compound called selenium. Selenium is a powerful antioxidant that plays an important role in ensuring the thyroid gland functions properly.

Turkey passes as one of the best foods to eat at night because the protein tryptophan, which it contains in a considerable amount, is believed to promote tiredness and thus, sleepiness.[2]

2. Fish

Another great choice for non-vegetarians is fish, especially fatty fishes like salmon, tuna, and mackerel. These are considered healthy choices because they contain a considerable amount of Vitamin D. Vitamin D helps your body regulate its calcium levels and is good for your kidneys, parathyroid glands, skin, etc.

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Fatty fishes also contain omega-3 fatty acids. Omega-3 fatty acids are a group of healthy fatty acids that can serve as anti-inflammatory agents and are good for the brain. Omega-3 fatty acids are shown to be able to increase the amount of serotonin produced by the nervous system, and thus, make sleep feel better.[3] This means that fishes would not keep you awake! You don’t have to roll from side to side trying to fall asleep after eating them.

Fishes also contain nutritive oils that are good for your body and skin.

3. White Rice

White rice is just rice that has no bran germ—that is, both bran and germ have to be removed as a result of processing from brown rice to make it white rice. This removal of bran and germ causes white rice to contain lower fiber, nutrients, and antioxidants when compared with brown rice. However, white rice still contains a commendable amount of nutrients such as thiamine, folate, and manganese and so is great as a late-night meal.

White rice has a high Glycemic Index. (GI). A food’s glycemic index is simply the measure of the rate at which that food increases the body’s sugar level. Taking in foods with a GI index, such as rice, can improve the quality of one’s sleep. This is as long as one takes these foods one hour before sleep. If you plan to sleep by 7 p.m, then it is a good idea to eat white rice by 6.p.m.[4]

4. Bananas

Finally, Something for vegetarians. A fruit! Bananas not only taste good, but they are also rich in the compounds potassium and tryptophan, making them one of the best foods to eat at night.

Tryptophan, as earlier stated, is an essential protein that plays a role in relaxation. Some bananas before meals can improve the quality of your sleep. Plus, they contain vitamins and are rich in antioxidants. They also contain compounds that are capable of making bowel movements easier.

5. Cheese and Crackers

Cheese and crackers, crackers being a source of carbohydrates and cheese a source of tryptophan, can help balance the body’s sugar level. When you take cheese and crackers together, more tryptophan is made available to your brain.[5] The sugar in cheese feeds your brain, and tryptophan helps with the production of melatonin.

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This means that there would be more serotonin and melatonin production in your nervous system when you take cheese and crackers together. Serotonin improves the quality of a person’s sleep.

6. Warm Cereals

Cereals are great sources of fiber. Ones like oats also contain an impressive amount of melatonin, which improves sleep.

Before bed, a hot bowl of cereal and maybe even whole grains are a good choice. They do not contain a lot of calories and would most likely not keep you awake.

7. Yoghurt

Yogurt tastes good, and kids and adults love them. They are also a rich source of calcium. Calcium is an essential mineral to the body. It is necessary for the growth of bone and teeth, and skeletal, smooth, and cardiac muscles need it for muscular contractions to happen.

Your body also needs calcium to produce melatonin from tryptophan. If calcium levels are low, there will be a reduced rate of production of melatonin—and thus, low quality sleep. Yogurt also contains casein. Casein is believed to reduce early morning hunger.

Unsweetened yogurt is a great snack and one of the best foods to eat at night.

8. Eggs

Eggs are great sources of protein and don’t contain many calories. As a late-night snack, eggs are a great pick. They are easy to cook and can go along with many different kinds of snacks.

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Eggs also contain tryptophan, which—as you must now already know—can improve the quality of one’s sleep.

9. Protein-Pineapple Smoothie

As you may have noticed, most of the snacks and foods on this list of best foods to eat at night are protein-rich foods. Protein-rich meals taken around bedtime can boost muscle repair. They can also combat age-related muscle mass loss especially in people who frequently exercise.

As a late-night snack, you can blend some pineapple pieces into milk. Milk is a great source of the protein tryptophan from which the body produces melatonin. Pineapples do not contain a lot of calories and might not prove a threat to your body’s normal digestive functions. Pineapples can also boost your body’s serotonin levels.[6]

10. Tart Cherries

Juices made from tart cherries are great alongside other snacks, such as crackers and cheese. Tart cherries have anti-inflammatory effects. Even though in small quantities, tart cherries contain the sleep hormone melatonin. They also contain procyanidin B-2, which is believed to keep stable the essential amino acid tryptophan.[7]

Tart Cherries have low calories, too. This means that they are not too heavy and do not pose the threat of fat deposition, and they would not keep you awake.

11. Honey

Honey harvested from bees is nutritious and does not contain a lot of calories. It is known to be capable of increasing the production of melatonin in one’s body.[8]

It also contains healthy sugars, such as fructose and glucose, and can have a healthy effect on your body’s sugar level. Honey is one of the best food to eat late at night.

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12. Popcorn

When it isn’t swathed in sugar and milk and other fatty stuff, popcorn presents as a great late-night snack. Popcorn is a low-calorie snack and contains a rich amount of fiber.[9] High-fiber grains are believed to lower the risk of heart disease, diabetes, and some cancers.

Also, popcorn contains polyphenols. Polyphenols are antioxidants believed to improve circulation and in general, health.

13. Baked Sweet Potato Fries

French fries are amazing. They taste so good. Do you like french fries? Then baked sweet potato fries are a great pick you might want to consider.

As a late-night snack, you can very well bake sweet potatoes instead of frying them. They are easier to prepare when baked and do not contain so much fat. Sweet potatoes contain a good quantity of fiber and vitamins.[10]They also contain some great amounts of protein.

Final Thoughts

When next you have the craving for a late-night meal, you should know that not all meals are great when eaten at night. Some are about right, and others could contribute to excessive weight gain, heart diseases, digestive disorders, and other health issues.

Have you ever woken up with swollen eye bags, felt nauseous, or had malaise after a late-night meal? Then it’s possible the meal was not a great pick.

When choosing the best meals and snacks to eat at night, you should choose meals that contain low calories—not more than 200 calories—and have high protein content. Proteins like tryptophan enhance the quality of sleep. Some of these foods include eggs, turkey, cheese, bananas, yogurt, juices, etc.

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Remember, eating healthy is a great way to remain healthy.

More Healthy Snacks Options

Featured photo credit: K15 Photos via unsplash.com

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