A good workout is one of the best things you can do for your body. After you finish exercising, you will want to continue cherish your body in a healthy way – and that means eating and drinking right. Deciding what to put in your body after you’ve just worked up a sweat can be a challenging decision, and sometimes the foods we think of as healthy aren’t actually ideal. Experts even warn that there is one common drink that many people enjoy after a workout that can do more harm than good. Read on to see what to avoid if you feel dehydrated after exercise.
Avoid sugary smoothies after exercise.
Chances are you’ve enjoyed a frothy smoothie after a workout to both cool you down and fill you up. However, experts say you should avoid smoothies after a workout. It’s important to remember that all smoothies are made differently, but for the most part they won’t provide what you need. “Smoothies are high in vitamins and minerals, but that’s about all they have to offer. They’re low in fiber and have no protein and no complex carbohydrates,” says fitness instructor nutritionist Carly James, doctorate.
Registered dietitian nutritionist nutrition Kristin Gillespie says post-workout snacks should contain a variety of macronutrients, including protein, fiber, and healthy fats in addition to carbohydrates. “Many smoothies lack this balance. They contain high amounts of carbohydrates and sugars with minimal other macronutrients,” she explains. While smoothies contain natural sugars from fruits, consuming any kind of sugary drink after a workout can disrupt your post-workout energy levels, resulting in a crash. She advises that if you must have a smoothie after exercise, it should be “high in protein and low in calories.”
Smoothies can have the opposite effect of a workout.
Gillespie points out the obvious: It’s not wise for your post-workout snack to contain more calories than you’ve just burned. Personal trainer Rohan Arora agrees that you should avoid smoothies that increase your calorie count right after a workout. He also notes that because smoothies often contain a mixture of different ingredients, you could end up with a bloated stomach. “Bloating and gas problems are common in people who regularly consume smoothies, which is the exact opposite of what you want after your workout,” Arora says.
Also avoid fried foods, caffeine and high-fat foods after exercise.
Smoothies aren’t the only post-sweat snack to watch out for. Co-founder of RockBox Fitness and certified nutritionist Steve Halloran says pre-mixed post-workout shakes are “loaded with processed ingredients to make them shelf-stable” and should also be avoided. Drinking caffeine or alcohol is also unwise as it can exacerbate dehydration and hit you harder since your metabolism is higher after exercise.
James says anything that requires significant effort to digest should also be avoided, including fats, oils, and high-fiber foods. “They may be healthy in general, but after a workout you want your body to focus on repairing itself and not digesting a challenging meal,” she notes. And Gillespie points out that high-fat foods, such as fried foods, oils and fatty meats, slow your metabolism, which isn’t ideal after exercise.
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You should consume a healthy balance of nutrients.
Snacks that provide the right balance of protein, fiber, and carbohydrates can “help maintain energy levels over a longer period of time,” Gillespie says. She also notes that post-workout snacks can help build muscle, but it’s hard to achieve that without consuming protein, so you want to make sure your snack has enough of it. “Bananas with peanut butter, cottage cheese with fruit, chocolate milk” all contain a healthy balance of carbohydrates and protein, as well as fiber and micronutrients your body needs after a workout, she explains. Per Arora, eggs, sweet potatoes, chicken, and fish are good post-workout options if you’re looking for a heartier meal.