Avoid These 10 Foods After Your Workout

Getting started exercising can be daunting, especially if you're new to exercising. Do we exercise at home or go to the gym? Is jogging enough? Or do we need to mix things up? How often and at what intensity should we exercise? This is a minefield. Even if we do go all out, or we've been exercising for a while and we've figured it out, the next thing to tackle is our diet!

Eat before or after exercise? Most camps will say to eat after a workout because doing so on a full stomach can lead to stomach cramps and a low energy workout as our bodies digest our food. But what do we consume when we are greedy and looking for food?

Surprisingly, there are certain foods that are a real no-no after a workout for a variety of reasons, some of which may shock you. So here are 10 foods you should avoid in the immediate post-workout period, along with some ideas on what you should be eating…

1. Spicy food

Most of us love curry, but whether we're underwhelmed or prefer Madras, eating hot or spicy food after a workout is never a wise idea.

It's best to avoid anything that contains chiles, including hot sauces and sauces. Peppers contain a substance called capsaicin, which irritates the digestive system and makes spicy foods harder to digest.

After exercise, our body is trying to repair itself and replenish energy reserves, so hitting it with hard-to-digest food can interfere with this recovery process. Instead, fuel your body with lean proteins like chicken breast, fish, tofu, chickpeas or lentils.


Foods containing peppers can irritate the gut and slow down the recovery process needed after exercise. If you need a hearty meal, choose lean protein and steamed vegetables instead of curries.

2. Soda

Carbonated drinks are high in sugar and are not good for post workout as they hinder the fat burning process when we burn a lot of fuel during exercise.

"Ah, but I drink diet soda," we hear you cry! Artificial sweeteners are also no good post workout because they are not real food at all and our bodies really need to be properly fueled with real, wholesome ingredients.

Also, carbonated beverages like cola, lemonade and their dietary counterparts are also very bloating because of all the gas that gets trapped in our digestive system. They're also often loaded with caffeine, a diuretic that dehydrates us—we're probably already mildly dehydrated from exercise anyway.

Avoid sugary, artificially sweetened, high-gas, caffeine-rich carbonated beverages after exercise, and effectively rehydrate with plain water.

3. Raw vegetables

An odd entry on this list of foods to avoid post-workout is raw vegetables, which seem perfectly harmless and are high on health risks.

To be fair, they are. But the thing is, eating a bunch of raw carrots, celery, cucumbers, and peppers will fill you up, not the calories. They are very low in calories, and post-workout, we should supplement with energy-dense foods so our bodies can repair them.

If you do crave raw veggies, make sure to pair them with a high-protein dip, like hummus or your favorite nut butter. (Avoid calorie-dense cream or cheese dips, as they don't have much nutritional value beyond excess calories and fat.)

While packed with beneficial vitamins and minerals, raw vegetables by themselves won't keep you full for long due to their low calorie content. Serve with hummus or nut butter to keep you full longer.

4. Fatty or processed foods

Sometimes, we can get caught in the loop of "rewarding" ourselves with certain foods after exercising. We work out at the gym and eat pizza because "we earned it." Then we realized we weren't changing our weight or body composition, and we wondered why.

Eating fatty or processed foods after exercising immediately cancels out all the benefits we've just made by consuming more calories than we just burned.

Plus, fat slows down the digestive process, leaving us feeling sluggish and uncomfortable instead of enjoying the post-workout buzz and energy.

We should all be rewarded for exercising well, but eating fatty or overly processed foods can hinder our progress because they are high in calories and interfere with digestion. Eat lean protein and whole grain carbohydrates.

5. High-fiber foods

High-fiber foods like kale and broccoli are best avoided directly after exercise because of their effects on the gut. Fiber helps keep your gut healthy by slowing digestion so that nutrients can be properly absorbed. This makes it a very important nutrient, but not immediately after a workout.

After a workout, we need to fuel up with foods like easily digestible lean protein to replace any lost energy.

Fiber can also cause bloating, cramping, and gas, which can be uncomfortable at the best of times. But after exercise, when we are tired and lack energy, we will feel more uncomfortable. Instead, add lean protein such as chicken breast, fish or tofu.

Fiber is an important nutrient for gut health, but it can lead to an upset stomach and bloating, which can feel worse after exercise. Instead, reserve fiber foods for earlier or later in the day of your workout.

6. Alcohol

Perhaps unsurprisingly, post-workout alcohol is really not a good idea! Exactly is a diuretic, which means it promotes water loss by making us urinate more.

When we put ourselves through a sweaty, intense workout, we already lose a lot of fluid through sweat. Therefore, drinking alcohol only makes us more dehydrated. Being dehydrated for prolonged periods of time can also make us lethargic and lethargic, making us unfit for our next workout.

Plus, wine, beer, and cocktails are very calorie-dense, which totally defeats the point of exercising! By the way, alcohol is also a depressant. When we exercise, we often get that buzz after exercising because we release happy hormones that make us feel good. So don’t water down those feelings with alcohol, ride on the highs of nature and rehydrate with a pint of water!

Alcohol has dehydrating and depressing effects on the body and mind, and is full of calories. Save it for the weekend and drink water to stay hydrated.

7. Meal replacement or pre-made protein shake

This might surprise you, but meal replacement shakes and premade protein shakes (often marketed as gym-goers) really should be avoided after a workout.

That's because both typically contain a lot of added sugar, which may make them taste good, but also makes them bad for fat burning. When we exercise, our bodies use the complex carbohydrates in our diet for fuel. Then, when they run out, it burns fat for fuel. If we then flood the body with simple carbohydrates in the form of sugar, it interferes with the fat burning process. Also, when you eat too much sugar, your body stores it as fat. Rendering exercises are pretty useless!

Instead, make your own post-workout smoothie using a mix of real food - try a handful of berries, a banana, a tablespoon of peanut butter, a touch of honey, a tablespoon of hemp protein powder and 200ml of high-protein pea milk.

Avoid store-bought shakes that can be high in sugar and artificial ingredients; invest in making smoothies and make your own. You have complete control over what you drink.

8. Savory snacks

When we sweat, we lose precious electrolytes, which not only makes us feel thirsty, but also craves salt. We reached for the salty crisps - but we weren't doing ourselves any favors.

Potato chips and salted nuts not only have high levels of saturated fat (which makes them calorie-dense, but not very beneficial, especially if our goal is weight loss) foods so high in sodium chloride (the chemical name for table salt) are actually An important electrolyte, potassium, is depleted.

Our bodies need four times as much potassium as sodium, which helps regulate muscle function and blood pressure. But we can tip the balance by consuming salt, especially after a workout. If we're craving salt after exercise, chances are, we're actually craving potassium. So choose potassium-rich foods like bananas, potatoes, tomatoes, and lima beans.

Sodium-rich, salty foods deplete potassium levels, so if you crave salt, you may be deficient in potassium. Try eating foods rich in potassium, such as bananas and lima beans.

9. Energy bars

You'd think energy bars would be at the top of the list of foods to eat post-workout, not on the list of foods not to eat post-workout. But the truth is, while they may claim to be an excellent source of protein and appeal to fitness enthusiasts, they're actually often loaded with sugar.

The sugars in this bar may also be listed as various syrups, which means they're not even naturally derived sugars, but heavily processed sugars. Sugar interferes with the fat burning that should take place after exercise, the long queue runs out first, leaving the fat where it is. So, as tempting and convenient as they may be, a banana and a few teaspoons of nut butter is a far better choice.

Energy bars designed for athletes often contain sugar and artificial syrups that don't do us any good after a workout. If you're on the go, choose snacks like nuts and fruit.

10. Sports drinks

Marketed to sports enthusiasts as the perfect way to rehydrate after a workout, sports drinks appeal to us because they tell us in "science" jargon that we need them. But we don't have to waste our money (or single-use plastic).

Shockingly, some sports drinks are as high in sugar as some sugary sodas, so they're certainly not a healthy choice.

Hydrating after exercise is important, but water is still the best option. If you like something with a bit more flavor, try our recipe above for a homemade protein smoothie.

Fancy drinks are often packed with sugar around the rim of fancy sports cap bottles, making them an unhealthy choice for post-workout hydration. Plain water is a better choice!


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