If you are training hard, and not seeing the results you want – then your post-workout eating is an area to look at. What you put in your body directly after working out can have a dramatic effect on your gains, recovery and energy levels. Cheat meals and occasional snacks can be ok – though if you are regularly reaching for the wrong foods after your workout, you could easily be limiting your gains.
Everyone knows that you need to be well hydrated and take in as much lean protein as you can. Foods to avoid directly after hitting the gym can be just as important.
This may seem like an obvious one, it needs to be stated all the same. You will likely see hunger spikes after a tough workout. Often people forget what their head is telling them and head straight for the super quick and super easy fast food.
You should avoid this at all costs. After working up a sweat your goal should be to replenish your body’s glycogen and reduce the level of fat in your body.
Your workouts will target the fat your body has stored, unless of course you decide to consume bucketfuls of the stuff right after a workout. Fast food often contains trans-fats and chemicals to enhance the flavour. Replacing this with clean, healthy food can consolidate the benefits of your workout – you’ll feel great too.
Potato chips, pretzels and salted peanuts all seem like a ‘not so bad’ snack when the post workout hunger strikes. These should be a huge no-no for those of you looking to make the most of your hard work.
The salt not only contributes to dehydrating your muscles but can also lower the levels of Potassium in your body, which is an electrolyte with great importance in recovery. Your body already loses electrolytes when working out, so do not add to this by binging on salty snacks. Some salts are needed for a balanced diet, there is no need for the high levels of salt in many processed snacks.
Okay this is a big one and one that many of you will fail on without actually knowing the damage you’re doing. Energy bars can be great pre-workout, post workout they’re a potential nightmare.
These things are packed full of sugar, how do you think they give you the energy in the first place!? This makes them high in calories and will also slow down your metabolism, which is a huge mistake.
Having one of these after a workout can mean you have completely wasted your time and are back to square one.
No eggs alone are not a mistake. Eggs are a great source of protein and should be a major part of everyone’s diet. However more often than not these are fried in butter or oil, which are both saturated fats.
Have your eggs boiled or raw in a protein shake after your workout to get the most out of them and to avoid all the negatives associated with saturated fats.
Eggs are just one example. If you are getting out the frying pan as soon as you have put down the gym equipment, then you need to have a rethink!
After a workout your body needs high quality carbs and fibre to replenish itself. While it is true pastries contain both carbohydrates and fibre they’re also packed full of calories, salt and fats, which makes them a big mistake as a post workout snack.
They’re many better sources of fibre and carbohydrates to use after a workout, so pass on these tasty treats.
After your complete a tough workout, the last thing on your mind will be shopping or spending time preparing foods. A key to staying healthy with your post-workout eating is to prepare in advance.
Have a healthy snack with you at the gym. Keep the ingredients for a balanced meal ready for when you return home. This will help you to avoid the temptation to have something ‘quick and easy’ – and in the long run will help you see the benefits of your hard work when you exercise.
Avoiding the foods above will stand you in good stead in terms of getting the most benefit from your workout. They’re obviously other foods and drinks that aren’t listed here that should be avoided. Sugary drinks, chocolate and booze to name a few.
Avoiding these is important, but just as important is making sure you take in enough after a workout. Many of you will no doubt opt for some veggies, which can’t be bad right? In fact this is somewhat of a mistake…
Raw vegetables alone just isn’t enough to replenish your body after a tough workout. These low calorie foods just won’t cut it when trying to restore your energy levels and metabolic rate. Try combining them with nutritious dips like yoghurt, nut butters and hummus. Be sure to stay away from high in fat cream filled dips though!
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