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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

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

Reference

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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 April 8, 2021

6 Health Benefits of Beetroot Powder (And How To Choose A Good One)

6 Health Benefits of Beetroot Powder (And How To Choose A Good One)

Beetroots are vegetables rich in nitrates, antioxidants, and polyphenol compounds that have a role in improved cardiovascular function and exercise performance.[1] However, beetroot juice has limitations with storage and taste preference, and so other more convenient forms have been investigated. One of these forms is beetroot powder.

What Is Beetroot Powder?

Beetroot powder is made by dehydrating or drying out thin slices of beetroot (to remove all the moisture) and then grinding them into a powder. If you don’t like the earthy taste of beetroot, then beetroot powder might be an alternative since it is more concentrated than fresh beetroot but with a relatively neutral taste. One fresh beetroot is the equivalent of approximately one teaspoon of beetroot powder.

Powdered beetroot can be added to sauces, smoothies, pasta, gnocchi, curries, cakes, muffins, or anything you choose to add nutrients and color to. Watch out that your urine may change color too! Due to the natural sugars in beetroot, it can also be used as a natural sweetener. Beetroot powder is even used in natural cosmetics.

Beetroot Powder VS. Other Beetroot Products

One study looked at the total antioxidant potential, phenol compounds, sugars, and organic acids in beetroot juice, cooked beetroot, powder, and chips. They found higher amounts of total antioxidant potential and organic acids in the chips and powder compared with the juice and cooked beetroot.[2] However, it’s important to consider that it is a lot easier to take larger quantities of beetroot when powdered or juiced than just eating it and this means ingesting much more sugar.

6 Health Benefits of Beetroot

While beetroot may have potential health benefits, it’s not clear if these are temporary or have long-term effects. More research is needed to answer this question and what the optimal dose is. Most studies have focused on beetroot juice, with only a handful of studies investigating beetroot powder. There hasn’t been evidence so far to support the benefit of beetroot powder on blood flow.[3]

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Despite that, beetroot contains several different compounds with different properties. Here are the six health benefits of beetroot powder.

1. Beetroot Powder Is Rich in Nitrates

Firstly, beetroot powder is rich in nitrates. Nitrates have important roles related to increased blood flow, gas exchange, mitochondrial efficiency, and strengthening of muscle contraction.[4] By causing relaxation of the smooth muscles that encircle arteries and veins, nitrate leads to the dilation of these blood vessels, thereby lowering blood pressure. Nitrate medications are used for people with high blood pressure, angina, and heart disease to relax blood vessels, widening them to allow greater blood flow.[5]

A meta-analysis that combined 22 different trials and analyzed the results together found that additional beetroot juice significantly decreased blood pressure.[6] However, there isn’t evidence to support the long-term effects.[7]

2. Beetroot Has Anti-Inflammatory Properties

Secondly, beetroot contains antioxidant polyphenol compounds that have anti-inflammatory properties. Antioxidants are molecules that have the ability to neutralize free radicals and protect against cell damage that can lead to chronic diseases. Eating a diet high in antioxidants found in fruit and vegetables is associated with a lower risk of chronic disease.[8] Different polyphenol compounds are different colors, that’s why you will often hear about eating a rainbow of fruit and vegetables.

3. Beetroot Has Anti-Cancer Effects

Beetroot also contains betalains that have been found to have anti-cancer effects in cellular models in the laboratory.[9] Clinical trials are now needed to assess if there are potential anti-inflammatory and anti-cancer effects and the nature of these effects. While the anti-cancer effects of beetroot in humans aren’t known yet, including them in your diet may help and is unlikely to risk harm.

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4. Beetroot Powder Is a Great Source of Vitamins C and Folate

Beetroots are also a great source of vitamins C and B9 (folate). Vitamin C and folate have many important roles in our bodies. Vitamin C is required for the biosynthesis of collagen, which acts as a scaffold in the skin and ligaments. It is also has a role in wound healing and protein metabolism. Folic acid is vital for the production of healthy red blood cells, and cellular growth. Inadequate intake of vitamin C over a 3 month period can lead to scurvy, and smoking can further reduce the bioavailability.[10]

5. Beetroot Contains Essential Minerals

Beets also contain the minerals iron, manganese, and potassium. Iron has a vital role in the transportation of oxygen by healthy red blood cells. Over 40% of children worldwide have iron deficiency anemia and women of childbearing age are also at increased risk because of menstruation.[11] Potassium may actually prevent the harmful effects of eating excess salt (sodium chloride). Manganese has several roles including metabolism, bone formation, and the immune system. Beetroots are a great way of including all these micronutrients in your diet.

6. Beetroot Powder Is a Great Source of Fiber

Fiber is such an important component of our diet, with most of us needing to eat much more to reach the recommended daily amount of 30g. For every 10g of fiber you eat a day, you may decrease your long-term risk of bowel cancer.[12]

Fibre also acts as a pre-biotic, providing food for the friendly micro-organisms in your gut called the microbiota. There are trillions of micro-organisms in your gut that are now known to play a key role in inflammation and both mental and physical health. Eating beetroots can help to increase your fiber intake and support a healthy gut community.

It’s clear that for relatively few calories, beetroot contains a variety of vitamins, minerals, nitrates, and antioxidants. For these reasons, beetroot is labeled as a “nutraceutical” and supplementation has become increasingly popular.[13] While most studies have looked at the effects of beetroot on blood vessel dilation, there are still many unanswered questions about other potential benefits.

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How to Choose a Beetroot Powder

Like all other supplements, there is very little regulation. Therefore, it is very difficult to be sure exactly what is included in the supplement or assess the quality. My recommendations for choosing a supplement are to check for a product license and always buy from a reputable company.

There are, however, no agreed benchmarks for quality or efficacy. How much and how often are also unknown at this time. Try to avoid powders that have added preservatives, sweeteners, or artificial flavorings. Consider whether an organic powder is worth the extra money to you. I would avoid powders that have added silica to avoid clumping. Some supplements now use 3rd party companies to verify the contents.

There isn’t an agreed dose of nitrate or beetroot powder, so while some powders do contain nitrate content, it is difficult to know exactly what this means in practice. The higher the nitrate content, the more likely it is to have a beneficial effect on raised blood pressure. But if you don’t have high blood pressure, it’s difficult to know if more nitrate is beneficial.

In summary, look for:

  • organic beetroot powder
  • tested for quality by a 3rd party company
  • is free from preservatives, sweeteners, and artificial flavorings
  • avoid powders containing silica
  • buy from a reputable company
  • look at the nitrate content

How to Make Your Own Beetroot Powder

First, wash, peel, and grate your beetroots by hand or using a food processor. Then, place them on a tray, spread them out, and cover them with parchment or grease-proof paper to protect them from direct sunlight.

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Leave to dry until there is no moisture left and shake intermittently so that it dries evenly. When it snaps instead of bending and feels dry, it is ready for the next stage.

The drying stage can take up to four days depending on the air temperature. To speed up the drying process, you can do this on low heat in a saucepan for 15 to 25 minutes or in the oven at no higher than 180 degrees Celsius or in a dehydrator. If you use the oven or on the hob, just be careful not to burn the beetroot.

The final step is to grind the dried beetroot using a grinder. It can then be stored in an airtight container, avoiding sun-light for up to one year.

Should You Try Beetroot Powder?

Beetroot is a great vegetable that contains vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, nitrates, and fiber. The nitrates present in beets may lower your blood pressure in the short-term, but the long-term effects are not yet known. More research is needed to know about other potential benefits such as the effect on cancer.

So, while beetroot powder may have health benefits unless taken in excess, it is unlikely to have significant side effects. Large doses of beetroot, however, are associated with an increased risk of kidney stones.

If you are pregnant or breastfeeding, taking beetroot supplements is best avoided as there isn’t sufficient safety information. Beetroots do also contain fermentable oligosaccharides, disaccharides, monosaccharides, and polyols or FODMAPS for short. These are types of carbohydrates that are hard to digest and can cause symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome in some people. FODMAPS are thought to act as prebiotics, feeding the friendly micro-organisms that live in your gut (microbiota). So, for those people who can tolerate them, they are beneficial for a healthy gut.

More Resources About Beetroot

Featured photo credit: FOODISM360 via unsplash.com

Reference

[1] NCBI: Vascular effects of dietary nitrate (as found in green leafy vegetables and beetroot) via the nitrate‐nitrite‐nitric oxide pathway
[2] SpringerLink: Comparison of total antioxidant potential, and total phenolic, nitrate, sugar, and organic acid contents in beetroot juice, chips, powder, and cooked beetroot
[3] Maastricht University: Effects of Beetroot Powder with or without L-Arginine on Postprandial Vascular Endothelial Function: Results of a Randomized Controlled Trial with Abdominally Obese Men
[4] PubMed.gov: Effects of Beetroot Juice Supplementation on Cardiorespiratory Endurance in Athletes. A Systematic Review
[5] PubMed.gov: Nutraceuticals with a clinically detectable blood pressure-lowering effect: a review of available randomized clinical trials and their meta-analyses
[6] PubMed.gov: The Nitrate-Independent Blood Pressure-Lowering Effect of Beetroot Juice: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis
[7] PubMed.gov: Medium-term effects of dietary nitrate supplementation on systolic and diastolic blood pressure in adults: a systematic review and meta-analysis
[8] NCCIH: Antioxidants: In-Depth
[9] NCBI: Red Beetroot and Betalains as Cancer Chemopreventative Agents
[10] Healthline: Beetroot 101: Nutrition Facts and Health Benefits
[11] NCBI: The impact of maternal iron deficiency and iron deficiency anemia on child’s health
[12] Cancer Research UK: Does a high fibre diet reduce my risk of cancer?
[13] PubMed.gov: The potential benefits of red beetroot supplementation in health and disease

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