Don’t let what you eat after exercising be your downfall
Nutrition plays a big role in recovery and ensuring your muscles and body are replenished after exercise. Whether you are a weekend warrior wanting to feel tip top on Monday, or an athlete with a structured training routine needing to back it up day after day, the foods you choose to eat after a training session can make a big difference.
What you put in your body is going to affect how you feel in the hours after and even days after exercise. You need to replenish your muscle glycogen stores to allow faster recovery and feel better the next day or training session, not sluggish. A lot of foods can do a great deal of good following a training session, though there are several foods that should be avoided.
Note not all the foods listed below are bad foods, but post exercise is not the time for them.
Raw vegetable sticks
Normally these foods are nutritious and amazing for your body, though after a workout, to aid recovery you need to fuel your body with something that contains carbohydrates and protein to replenish glycogen stores and facilitate muscle repair. Veggie sticks like carrot, capsicum and celery have neither enough carbohydrates or protein to be of any benefit. They can however be included as part of a complete meal.
Fast food / take away
If you think of these foods as a ‘treat’ post workout unfortunately you are not doing yourself any favours having something so high in fat or sugar. You are likely to consume more calories that you initially burnt off and the lack of nutritional value does not aid recovery.
Chocolate contains too much fat and refined sugar to be of any benefit to your muscles post a trainings session and is not recommended. On the other hand a glass of chocolate milk and a piece of fruit is not too bad if you are craving something sweet. Milk it an excellent source of both protein and carbohydrates.
Pastries / bakery treats
While carbohydrates after a workout are important to replenish glycogen stores, the quality of these carbohydrates needs to be factored in too. Quality, low GI, wholegrain carbohydrates are preferred over high fat, refined carbohydrates found in pastries. The fat content of such foods also slows digestion and is not helpful.
High Salt foods
It is common to crave salt after exercise, but we get enough sodium in our general diet. Too much salt lowers potassium levels, which can already be a little depleted after exercise and we need potassium for muscle recovery. Instead of a high salt food, try having a banana instead.
Sugary foods and beverages
Yes sugar is a carbohydrate and this is important to have following exercise, though refined sugar is high GI and lacks any other nutritional value to be of benefit for recovery. Soft drink, refined juice and lollies lack any protein to be beneficial either.
Alcohol is definitely a no no after a workout. It can further dehydrate you and reduced protein synthesis, only adding to feeling worse, and worse the next day.