Staying in shape isn’t all about hitting the gym on a regular basis. That’s only half the battle. In order to keep yourself lean, you must combine cardio and weight training with a balanced, nutritious, and healthy diet. Your exercise and your diet must work in conjunction with one another, as there are certain foods that should be consumed prior to working out that will help give you the energy and focus necessary to get through it. Of course, there are also certain foods that you should avoid after your daily workout so that you don’t ruin all the hard work you put in at the gym.
Here are seven foods you should not eat after a workout:
1. Salty Processed Foods
It’s common to crave something salty after your workout, as your sweat not only deprives your body of water, but certain nutrients (including potassium) as well. Opting for a healthy meal can replenish your potassium level quickly and naturally, doing so without high calorie snacks. Bananas, which are known for having high amounts of potassium, are your best option, but any kind of dry fruit would be a preferable alternative to salty snacks.
2. Sugary Meals and Drinks
Drinking soda or other sugary drinks is the worst mistake you can make after a workout. Sugar slows down your metabolism, and a slower metabolism will make it that much harder for you to slim down and get the lean body you want. It’s important to read labels before you consume, as some products may have more sugar in them than you think. In addition to the sugar in them, sodas also cause bloating, which is the opposite of what you’re looking for after working out. If water or natural fruit juice aren’t available after your workout, your best bet is unsweetened iced tea, which will keep you hydrated and calm your sugar cravings.
3. Fast Foods
It may seem obvious, but fast foods, fatty snacks, and oily foods should all be avoided after a workout. Your primary goal is to reduce the overall amount of fat, and consuming those foods will make it harder to do so; and that’s in addition to raising your cholesterol, which puts you at risk of heart disease. Moreover, fatty foods interfere with your body’s ability to produce glycogen (an important substance that’s produced and stored in the muscles and liver), an unhealthy by-product in addition to ruining the hard work you put in at the gym.
4. Raw Veggies
While raw fruits and vegetables should be a part of your diet, you shouldn’t focus exclusively on them, nor should you consume them immediately after a workout. Raw vegetables will not supplement the nutrients, vitamins, and minerals you lost during your workout. Instead, you need to consume protein after your workout in order to support muscle development.
5. Milk Chocolate
Milk chocolate does have some benefits, as it can improve your memory and cognitive function. However, any chocolate you eat should be consumed before your workout so that you can burn up the extra calories while also indulging your sweet tooth. Eating chocolate after a workout will not help you to replenish the nutrients lost while exercising.
Although your body needs high-quality carbohydrates after working out and pastries are full of carbs, they are not a healthy and reliable source of nutrients. Whole-wheat toast or dry fruits are better options than pastries or donuts, which should be avoided at all costs.
7. Energy Bars
Energy bars are designed for pre-workout consumption only; they will boost your energy, which you need before your workout, not afterwards. These bars are filled with sugar, which decreases your metabolism and stimulates fat production. Once your workout is over, energy bars will do more harm than good.