After you finish working out hard at the gym each day, you don't want to do anything that undoes the effort that you've put in. You need to pay attention to what you do after each workout to make sure that you attain as much of the benefit of your hard work, as possible. Here are the most important post-workout habits to start, and the bad habits to leave behind.


Do: get hydrated

When you leave the gym, it's easy to give in to temptation and get a latte or a diet soda. These liquids don't help your body replenish lost water, however. You need to drink at least 20 ounces of water after a workout, to help your body rehydrate. A latte or soda may quench your thirst, but they won't help your body recover the way water does.


Do: get some rest

If you've tried yoga, you know that the last 5 minutes of every class are usually reserved for the savasana. You lie on your back, close your eyes, and allow your body to recuperate. As great as exercise is for the body, rest is just as important. If you feel the need to rest after a workout, you need to honor what your body asks for. To rest isn't to be lazy. Instead, it's a chance to allow your body to regain lost energy. Once you get back home after your workout, you need to give yourself 15 minutes in bed to allow your body to regroup. You'll be a lot more energetic afterward.


Do: eat healthy snacks

Your body needs to do more than just replenish its stores of fluids after a workout. It needs essential nutrients, as well. To make sure that you aren't tempted by the nearest vending machine or snack shop, you should make sure that you pack healthy snacks to take to the gym. Bananas are a great idea. They are rich in healthy carbohydrates and are able to replenish electrolytes like potassium that you lose to perspiration. You get more electrolytes, as well as protein, with pumpkin seeds. You'll feel a lot stronger and less worn out when you eat bananas and pumpkin seeds right after gym hour.


Do: drink coconut water

While a banana or two can help you put back some of the electrolytes that you lose through your workouts, they may not be enough. It may occur to you to knock back a sports drink, but those beverages contain lots of unhealthy sugar. Sipping coconut water is a much better idea. It contains plenty of electrolytes and healthy, hydrating fluids. You don't even need to break open a coconut; many brands sell ready-packaged coconut water.


Don't: eat junk food

When you finish a workout, you may feel extra pleased with yourself for having been good and responsible, and decide that you deserve a treat. A candy bar, however, will only undo some of the hard work that you've put in. You don't want to get into the habit of indulging to reward good behavior. It's absurdly easy to eat hundreds of calories' worth of sugar in a few seconds. If you have to pick something up from the candy rack, go for a low-sugar nut bar.


Don't: feed yourself empty carbs

When you work out, your body uses up the glucose in your bloodstream. If you feel shaky and low on energy afterward, it's only normal. You may be tempted to correct the feeling with a croissant or pastry, but you need to stay away from refined flour and processed sugar. While they'll give you a quick boost, you'll drop lower than ever soon afterward. You need to be careful to snack only on healthy carbs, like fruit.


Don't: drink a beer right away

Stopping by at the bar for happy hour may seem like just the thing to do after a sweaty workout session, but you need to resist the temptation. Alcohol dehydrates the body. You don't want to rob your system of more water after losing a lot of it to sweat. While you certainly can stop by at the bar, it shouldn't be right after a workout. You should choose water and healthy electrolytes first, before ordering a beer or another drink.


Don't: be lazy

After a workout, you may think that you've earned the right to take the elevator instead of the stairs or to park close to the entrance so that you don't have to walk. The problem with these choices is that they can become a habit even when you haven't worked out. After a workout, you need to take the stairs or walk some distance from your car. When you don't have the time to exercise on some days, these habits will give you the only exercise that you get.


Habits are everything when it comes to fitness. When you establish healthy habits, they become effortless. You're much more likely to eat healthily and get enough exercise when these activities become habits. You can gently ease yourself into healthy post-workout behavior when you practice these behaviors.