Advertising
Advertising

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.

Advertising

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.

Advertising

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.

Advertising

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.

Advertising

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

More by this author

Tegan Jones

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

What Makes a Good Leader: 9 Critical Leadership Qualities What to Eat After a Workout? 10 Foods You Should Never Eat 26 Romantic Ways to Show Your Love for Someone 12 Unexpected Benefits of Drinking Hot Water 10 Surprising Benefits Of Earl Grey Tea You Never Knew

Trending in Diet & Nutrition

1 How to Create a Healthy Meal Plan for the Week 2 13 Best Food To Eat For Weight Loss And Energy 3 7 Homemade Diet Foods That Are Good For Your Health 4 10 Best Low Calorie Foods That Help You Lose Weight Fast 5 20 Easy Smoothie Recipes for Weight Loss

Read Next

Advertising
Advertising
Advertising

Published on January 14, 2021

How to Create a Healthy Meal Plan for the Week

How to Create a Healthy Meal Plan for the Week

Meal plans are a great way to cut down waste, make shopping for food quicker and easier, and help you to stick to healthy choices. But where do you start? What makes a healthy meal plan for the week, and how do you know what to include?

Firstly, there is no healthy meal plan that works for everyone. At different stages of your life, you will need different levels of nutrients, but there are some general principles that you can follow, and then adjust as necessary. Here’s how to create a healthy meal plan for the week.

The Backbone of Your Healthy Meal Plan

For the vast majority of adults, these practical tips should be the backbone of your meal plan:

  • A range of fruits and vegetables
  • Whole grain carbohydrates (brown rice, brown bread, millet, bulgar wheat, etc)
  • Fermented food such as kefir, kimchi, and sauerkraut
  • Unsaturated fats such as extra virgin olive oil, rapeseed oil, avocados, and nuts
  • Two portions of oily fish such as salmon per week (or nuts and seeds if you don’t eat fish)
  • A handful of nuts and seeds a day
  • Aim for 30g of fiber a day
  • Eat a range of beans and pulses (such as chickpeas, kidney beans, black beans, and lentils)
  • Drink approximately 8 glasses of water a day[1]

Calorie Counting

A calorie is the energy required to raise the temperature of 1g water from 14.5 to 15.5°Celsius. This is calculated in a laboratory, by burning the food. However, the food is not “burnt” in our bodies, and people’s metabolism and energy expenditure vary, so it’s a very rough estimate.

Advertising

The absorption and, therefore, how much energy is available for you to use, is also affected by how the food is processed. An example of this is sweetcorn. If you grind it down into a powder and make a tortilla, you will absorb far more calories than if you eat whole sweetcorn kernels. Instead, you will see most of the kernels untouched, in the toilet!

Another concern with calories is that instead of thinking about nutrient quality, it promotes prioritizing quantity. For example, there is a huge difference in the number of nutrients you could consume in 500 calories of fruit and vegetables, versus 500 calories of ice cream.

Also the number of calories you need varies according to so many factors, such as age, gender, lifestyle, and activity level, that it is hard to accurately predict exactly how many you need. Instead, I prefer to recommend a general principle of how to balance your plate and a reminder to eat mindfully when you are physically hungry, not because of an emotional trigger.

How to Balance Your Plate

When thinking of your healthy meal plan, for each meal your plate should contain approximately:

Advertising

  • Fruit and vegetables (1/2 plate)
  • Whole grains (1/4 plate)
  • Lean protein (1/4 plate)
  • A spoon of unsaturated oil

This will help you when you think of each meal to work out what to include and approximate portion sizes.

An Example Day

Breakfast

  • Overnight oats, with chia seeds, quinoa and milk or fortified plant based milk
  • A piece of fruit

Snack

  • A handful of mixed nuts

Lunch

  • Grilled tofu with a mixed salad and bulgar wheat
  • A piece of fruit

Snack

  • Apple slices with nut butter

Dinner

  • Chicken / tofu / salmon with miso brown rice and spring greens
  • OR vegetable curry, daal, and brown rice
  • OR stuffed aubergine with mixed vegetables and millet or quinoa
  • A piece of fruit

How to Adjust Your Meal Plan

There are certain phases when more or less nutrients are needed, so it is important to consider your changing needs.

When You’re Pregnant

During your pregnancy, you should limit oily fish to once a week, and only 2 tuna steaks or 4 medium sized cans of tuna per week, because of the risk of pollution.

You should also avoid the following food groups:

Advertising

  • Raw or undercooked eggs
  • Unpasteurized cheese
  • Raw or undercooked meat
  • Pâté
  • Swordfish, shark, and marlin
  • Homemade ice-cream with raw egg
  • Soft-serve ice cream from vans or kiosks
  • Vitamin A supplements
  • Liquorice root
  • Alcohol

When You’re Breastfeeding

While you are breastfeeding, your body needs more calcium (1250mg), selenium (70mcg), and iodine (200mcg). Ensure that you include these in your meal plan.

When Going Through Menopause

Menopause

changes your long-term risk of disease, so it is important to focus on items that help support bone and heart health. The framework above already sets out a diet to support long term heart health, but for bone health aim for:

  • 1200mg calcium per day
  • High-quality protein at every meal
  • Foods rich in vitamin K
  • Foods rich in phosphorus
  • Foods rich in magnesium

Organizing Your Shopping

Once you have completed your healthy meal plan for the week, you can save the ingredients that you regularly need to an online shopping list, in order to make repeat ordering simpler. Some recipe books also now have a QR code so that you can easily synchronize the ingredients needed with your online shopping.

Advertising

Try to eat seasonal fruit and vegetables where possible, but canned beans, frozen, dried, and freeze dried fruit make great substitutes for fresh, retaining most of the nutrients.

Final Thoughts

Creating a healthy meal plan for the week may be daunting at first, but once you get the hang of it, it’ll become a fun addition to your weekly planning, and one that will ultimately improve your overall lifestyle. Try to use the general feedback above and adapt it to your own specific needs. Enjoy looking for new and exciting recipes to include in your plan!

More on Healthy Eating

Featured photo credit: Ello via unsplash.com

Reference

Read Next