Eating post workout is essential because you need to replenish calories burned and add important nutrients to help your body repair and even function the rest of the day. However, not all foods are going to be beneficial after you’ve put in all that hard work. Some may even negate your efforts.
So, to help you know how to properly fuel post workout, we’ve given you some foods you should avoid so you can keep that engine going strong.
1. Salty snacks
After a long, hard workout, it’s likely you will be craving salt due to all the salty sweat you’ve been sweating away. Salt is also key to water retention, and your body may very well be telling you that you need to do something quickly to keep your body from losing more fluids.
However, the problem with snacks with a high salt content is that they can lower your levels of potassium, which is something your body needs even more than salt to help you recover. Potassium and salt are actually both electrolytes, but, potassium does not negate salt.
So, grab a banana and a cup of water and let your body replenish those electrolytes and feel your body recover splendidly.
2. Milk chocolate
Another popular post-workout craving is a good old milk chocolate bar. After all, you’ve earned it, right? You burned calories, and can therefore replace them with whatever you darn-well please.
Well, actually, no. Milk chocolate is high in sugar and calories, and offers little to no benefits to helping you recharge. And while the sugar content may give you a quick burst of energy, you will likely crash soon after.
But there is some good news in this milk chocolate downer. Just switch the words around and grab yourself some chocolate milk. Researchers have and found that chocolate milk provides similar or even superior results to sports drinks. Chocolate milk has carbs, protein and electrolytes that also aid in recovery and water retention.
3. Fruit drinks
Yeah you’re thirsty, but whatever you do, don’t replenish lost fluids with sweetened beverages—including sugary sports drinks. Whether it’s soda, or fructose filled fruit juices, downing sugary drinks after intense exercise is counterproductive for anyone seeking to lose weight, due to the slowing effect on the metabolism. Reach for sports drinks only if your workout required you to sweat profusely to replace the electrolytes you lost. But to quench your thirst, rehydrate and replenish electrolytes, go with plain water and eat a potassium-rich banana.
4. Energy Bar
Don’t be fooled by the marketing tactics of some energy bars. Most are loaded with sugar, and are basically candy bars in disguise. And you know what a chocolate bar can do to you (see above).
If you must have the convenience of a bar, make sure it is made with whole food ingredients — perhaps a mix of nuts, grains and fruits with a good amount of protein and carbohydrates to help refuel and recover.
5. Fast Food
We probably don’t have to tell you this, but then again, a hamburger might sound good after a 20 mile run or a 2-hour workout.
The thing about this type of food is that is is high in fat and salt, and is extremely hard to digest, making it difficult for your body to turn it into the energy that it needs so badly. Instead, you will me stuck with a big hunk of meat churning its way in you body for hours as you sit, depleted and unable to complete even the simplest of tasks.
Mmmmm … pastries. The fluffiness of a flaky doughnut, coupled with the clear glaze, topped with frosting and sprinkles. You no doubt earned this goodness after putting in all that time, sweat and energy in the day’s workout.
Well, folks, the deliciousness can wait, and should actually probably wait forever. Doughnuts offer nothing but empty calories and short-lived happiness. Think long-term here, and step away from the pastry shelf.
Celebratory rounds of booze may be on the day’s agenda, especially if you completed a race. In fact, many marathons offer tickets to get a free beer to race participants. However, it is important to note that while you are technically drinking, this particular type of drink actually dehydrates you. It also negates protein synthesis, and your body needs protein to recover adequately.
So, celebrate responsibly, and save the drinks for a little later in the week after or along with a well-balanced meal.
8. Raw veggies
Say what? Yep, that’s right. Raw vegetables are normally a great source of fuel, but post workout, you need something a little more substantial. Perhaps add those veggies to a turkey sandwich, or cook them up with some chicken, nuts and rice in a little stir-fry action to fuel you up with all the good stuff.
9. Nuts or nut butters
Nuts or nut butters are a great source of protein that your body needs to recover. However, just like raw veggies alone are not a good source of post-workout fuel, neither are plain nuts or butters.
Instead, dip some apples in peanut butter or have some fresh granola complete with dried berries, seeds, nuts and honey. Now, that is filling and awesome.
Again … say what?! Water is the lifeblood of every living creature, and without it, life would cease to exist. However, water alone is not going to give you the things you need to recover.
Simply out, you need food. Drink your water, but alongside a healthy meal filled with carbs, protein, fat — you know, the good stuff, so you can reap the benefits of a workout well-done, and do it all again tomorrow.