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.
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.
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.
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”. 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.
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. 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.
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”.
In simple terms, this means that added sugars, like those found in fruit juices, gets in the way of your metabolism’s natural regulation.
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.
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.
If you really need a cheese fix, cottage cheese is a great option as it has a high water content and many health benefits. 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: Wouter Supardi Salari via unsplash.com