So you've just completed a really good workout, and your stomach is craving a bite to eat. It's definitely tempting to reward yourself with whatever foods you want - after all you've just burned enough calories for a quick cheat, right? Wrong! One way to kill an awesome workout is by fueling inefficiently after the workout, and ultimately undo all the hard work you put in.
Here is a quick list of what foods to eat and what foods to avoid post-workout:
Worst Post-Workout Meals
- Oily foods: Eating fats post-workout slows down the rapid digestion your body experiences, so you aren't doing yourself any favors when it comes to speeding up your metabolism and toning. Consuming protein after your workout is great, but not if it comes with high levels of fat. Raw nuts and nut butter, like almond and cashew butter, are great snack options, but because of the same digestive slowdown described above, you want to avoid them directly after the gym.
- Red meat: The saturated fat they contain not only slows metabolic function, but it also impairs learning and memory within 10 minutes of eating. Even 20 minutes of exercise expedites information processing and memory, the very operations a plate of bacon can undo.
- Coffee: You're super dehydrated at this point, and adding something like coffee in the mix can dehydrate you more.
- Sugary smoothies: Sure, some smoothies are great for you after a workout: A protein-packed, fiber-filled machine can really boost your energy and help replenish some of the vitamins you need. However, the majority of people are having the wrong kinds of smoothies. If you just burned about 300 calories in a spin class, having a 600-calorie berry smoothie is a problem. After a workout, you need H20 (and electrolytes!) to rehydrate, not fructose and sugary drinks which are counterproductive to your workout
Best Post-Workout Meals
- Bananas: They are one of the best things you can eat after hitting the gym. Bananas are rich in potassium and carbs … both of which need to be replenished.
- Clean protein: lean, fast-digesting protein is the number one best thing you can eat after working out. Protein needs to be replenished after a workout and helps to build lean muscle. Whey protein powder is the best form of protein you can have post-workout. This gets into your bloodstream quickly and into your muscle tissue quickly to help the recovery process. If you don't eat animal products, try a pea protein supplement, which is almost as digestible as whey.
- Starches: It's a good idea to accompany your protein source with "a starchy carb." Items like rice, corn, or potatoes, contain maltodextrin, a complex carbohydrate that is absorbed directly through the gut and helps the body digest the protein faster",without the potential for fat gain. Here's a great post-workout meal: a piece of wild-caught salmon with rice, followed by a banana-based green smoothie.