So you step out of the gym feeling refreshed after an intense workout. You worked hard to burn off those calories and to achieve that muscular pump. However, this doesn’t mean you are free to roam to the nearest fast food place or candy shop and indulge in fats and sweets. If you’re serious about burning fat and building muscle, you need to take your post-workout meal very seriously. Besides breakfast, your post-workout meal is the most important meal of the day since this is the time your body will use precious nutrients to build muscle and recover. Your body is screaming for food after your workout and you must replenish it with healthy nutrition. Let’s examine 4 types of foods to avoid at all costs after a workout.
1) Too Many Fats- All that fat slows down digestion, which is the exact opposite of what you want after a workout. Fats slow the digestion and absorption of carbohydrates and protein. Your post-workout meal should be designed to promote the most rapid delivery of carbohydrates and protein to your depleted muscles.
2) Salty Snacks- Salty snacks like potato chips and pretzels can lower your potassium levels. Potassium is full of electrolytes and a more important electrolyte than sodium. Electrolytes help your body regulate fluid balance, nerve conduction and muscle contraction. Since your body loses electrolytes during your workout, salty snacks will only deplete them more.
3) High Sugar Food & Drinks- It is of high importance that you stay away from fast-digesting carbohydrates if you are looking for a lean physique, as this tends to cause a dreaded insulin spike. Raising blood sugar levels quickly and causing large fluctations in your blood sugar has been associated with a wide number of health problems such as diabetes. However, there is one time of the day where you can get away with this. After a workout, your body craves nutrients to jumpstart the recovery process. Your glycogen levels are depleted, which causes that groggy feeling similar to when you wake up in the morning. That is why it is particularly important to get some carbohydrates in so you can replenish your glycogen stores so you have energy to do other things. However, not all carbohydrates are created equal. You should still stick to a carbohydrate that has a moderate glycemic index such as sugar found in nutrient packed foods. Sugar can be beneficial for your post-workout recovery but you need to consume the right kind, like honey or fruits, which stabilize blood sugar levels quite effectively with minimal contribution to fat gain.
4) Raw Vegetables- I bet you’re suprised to see this on the list, huh? These foods are certainly ideal for your general health but not for muscle building. These minimal calorie foods don’t have enough nutrients to help you restore energy and maintain a healthy metabolic rate. Not to mention, you are consuming zero protein, which is the most important nutrient to consume after a workout. Eat as many vegetables as you want but just not after a workout.
You should focus your post-workout meal on a 2 to 1 ratio of carbohydrates to protein. Stay away from fat. A perfect post-workout meal would be turkey on whole wheat bread with maybe a tablespoon of honey.