Whether you’ve just finished a serious workout session at the gym, or just got back from a 5k run you will be in need of some food to replace the calories that you’ve burnt off and to help speed up muscle repair. You need to eat the right kinds of protein and carbohydrate rich foods such as grilled chicken, vegetables and whole-grain rather than foods that will wipe out all your hard work, right? So to help you make the right food choices here’s a list of 15 foods that you should avoid eating after a workout:
1. Raw vegetables
We all know that vegetables are extremely good for our health so it might seem like odd that the general rule of thumb is that you should avoid eating raw vegetables after exercise. Vegetables like carrots, celery and broccoli all work well as a healthy, low-fat,snack, but they work better when they are cooked and eaten in combination with other healthy foods after a workout. In their raw state, vegetables don’t provide enough fuel or calories to help our bodies restore our energy and metabolism that’s lost during exercise. But if you do prefer to eat them raw then bulk it up by dipping the veg into some protein rich, healthydips like natural yogurt.
2. Fried foods
It might be tempting to eat your favourite full English breakfast after a workout just because you think you’ve burnt off enough calories to allow yourself to be naughty, but don’t. It’s not worth it! Avoid eating fried foods that are high in fat like chips, burgers after exercise. The initial carb rush that you will feel after eating fried foods will soon disappear, leaving you with no nutritional gain and the need to do another workout to work off the extra calories and carbohydrates.
Crisps and certain nuts have extremely high levels of salt. Your body might be craving salt after your workout, especially when you have just sweated a load of salt out of your body during it. Eating salty snacks lowers your body’s potassium levels which your body needs to help it recover quickly after exercise. Potassium is an electrolyte that is lost during exercise and it’s essentialthat you eat foods that boost the levels back to where they should be rather than eating high salt foods that will further deplete them.
There are so many better food options to enjoy after a workout so just leave pizza off the list and save it for a special treat. An average 10-inch pizza is usually packed with toppings like processed meats and cheese which the body has a hard time digesting and are high in bad fats. Also, a 10-inch pizza can have up to a whopping 1200 calories in it, that’s over half of the recommended 2000 calories per day intake allowance for a woman. No thanks!
5. Fizzy drinks
Even though you are bound to feel very thirsty post-workout stick to drinking water to rehydrate and avoid drinking fizzy drinks. They are packed full of sugar and chemicals, have zero nutritional or hydration value and cause tooth decay. The diet variety are no good either as they are also full of sweeteners and chemicals. But if you’ve drank plenty of water and still want something else to drink after your workout, then it’s recommended that you opt for a drink that contains a combination of carbs and protein like a glass of low-fat chocolate milk.
Avoid eating milk chocolate after exercise. You might think you need a hit of the delicious brown stuff to boost your energy levels, but chocolate is full of sugar and is high in calories. The high that you get from chocolate won’t last long and your body needs to be recharged properly by eating the right foods that aid muscle repair and boost your metabolism rather than chocolate which offers the body nothing and has a negative impact on your workout regime.
Although it is advised that after a workout you should eat some carbs to boost blood-glucose levels that are lost after a hard workout, but that doesn’t mean it’s okay to start scoffing down on pastries. The fats found in pastries like croissants and pain au chocolat are bad for your heart and the fats in them can clog your arteries. Pastries are also high in calories and sugar. For a good carb boost post-workout have a slice of whole wheat toast instead and add some nutritious and filling peanut butter which will leave you feeling satisfied.
8. Energy bars
Many people get confused about when they should eat an energy bar as part of their workout diet. Energy bars should be eaten before a workout rather than after because they provide you with the fuel you need to get you through the work which you are going to burn off. So all the sugar, and energy bars are full of it, are worked off during your workout. If you eat energy bars after your workout you are slowing down your metabolic rate and are simply stimulating fat production. They aren’t called energy bars for nothing and will give you an energy boost that you no longer need after your workout which might lead to a restless night’s sleep.
9. Energy drinks
Again, as with energy bars, energy drinks are no good post-workout. They don’t hydrate your body, are full of caffeine and they are carbonated which will leave you feeling gassy and bloated. Energy drinks are full of sugar and artificial sweeteners so unless you are an athlete you should avoid drinking them before and after a work out and stick to water instead.
While flaxseeds are healthy and good for weight loss, you should avoid eating them right after exercising because they are high in fibre which can cause bloating which affects all that great effort that you put into your workout. It’s better to eat flaxseeds and other fiber rich foods like bran two hours before a workout or two hours after.
11. Spicy foods
If you’re a lover of spicy foods like a chicken madras then you might be craving spicy foods after a workout. Eating spicy foods post-workout is not a good idea as the heat and fieriness of these foods can lead to heartburn and indigestion which will impede the effects of your workout and leave you feeling uncomfortable when what you want to be feeling that great post-workout high instead.
Avocados are full of vitamins that are good for us and are generally considered as a super food but try to Steer clear of eating them as part of your post-workout meals as they are high in fat, even if it’s the good kind of monounsaturated fat like avocados just before exercise. It’s best to eat avocados and other foods that are high in monounsaturated fats at least two hours before and two hours after exercise.
13. Granola Bars
Even the name sounds healthy and you probably weren’t expecting to see them on this list of foods to avoid after a workout, but they are on here for that reason alone. Thanks to clever advertising we are led to believe that all granola bars are healthy and are good idea for a post-workout snack when in fact some of them are not. They contain a load of unhealthy ingredients like corn syrup, trans fats and sodium which the body struggles to digest and they have no nutritional value whatsoever.So read the label carefully before buying to make sure it has the right ingredients and less of the ones that are bad for you. You’re probably better off eating a piece of fruit like a banana instead.
If you are a cheese lover, then you can probably think of nothing nicer to have after a workout than some melted cheddar cheese on toast. While cheese is a source of protein which your body needs after exercise, it’s highly processed and full of fat. If you find yourself craving cheese, then opt for healthier cheeses such as mozzarella and team it with some whole-grain bread for a protein and carb rich healthy post-workout snack.
15. Processed meats
Processed meats like ham, salami and bacon are best avoided after a workout as they are full of unhealthy fats and don’t provide your body with what it needs to repair itself following exercise. Processed meats contain preservatives to keep them fresh longer and are also high in sodium which can cause you to feel de-hydrated after a workout. Stick to high protein, muscle building red meats and eat and lean protein foods like chicken or salmon instead.