These foods you should never eat after a workout
- Delis are a popular post-workout spot, but be careful what you order. A chicken burrito bowl may seem like a good idea at the time, but it’s loaded with sodium and carbs.
- If you’ve hit up Chipotle after your workout, hold off on adding guacamole to your bowl or salad. It may be rich in healthy fats and vitamins, but it’s also high in calories.
- You might think grabbing a yogurt parfait for an afternoon snack is a healthy option, but read the nutritional label before digging in — many fruit-on-the-bottom parfaits are loaded with sugar. The sugary granola contained within won’t help much either with its carb content.
- Fruit is fantastic for energy and hydration, but too much of it can slow digestion and cause bloating. Save that smoothie for another time when you’ll be less likely to experience discomfort.
- Sushi rolls can be high in sodium, without enough protein to give your body all the nutrients it needs post-workout.
Pasta with Marinara Sauce
Pasta with marinara sauce is healthy, low-calorie meal choice. However, if you’re eating pasta after a workout, the carbohydrates from the pasta will give you energy that your muscles cannot use at that time. Instead of giving your body fuel to rebuild and grow stronger after your workout, you will be sending extra sugar into your bloodstream for no reason.
A great alternative to plain pasta with marinara sauce is whole grain pasta with marinara sauce as an addition of complex carbohydrates to replenish your glycogen stores without any added sugars or saturated fats. You could also add a protein source such as chicken or salmon to give your muscles something they can actually use!
Sushi rolls are a popular choice for post-workout food, but they’re not the healthiest. “The rice in sushi can cause bloating, and depending on what’s included in the roll, it could contain large amounts of sodium from soy sauce or mayonnaise,” says Andrea N. Giancoli, MPH, RD.
Giancoli adds that you should instead load up on lean protein like fish and chicken and pair it with a carbohydrate like brown rice or sweet potato to get an optimal balance of nutrients after you exercise.
“This is especially important after a strength workout—your muscles will be craving protein to rebuild and repair,” she notes.
Whole-Wheat Toast with Sliced Bananas
Whole-wheat toast with sliced bananas may sound like a healthy post-workout food, but it’s one you should probably skip. Bananas are great to eat after a workout because they’re packed with carbohydrates and potassium, which your body needs to replace what you lost while working out. Whole-wheat toast, on the other hand, contains bad carbs that get absorbed too quickly by your body, causing an increase in blood sugar and insulin levels. Instead of eating whole-wheat toast as a post-workout snack, stick with bananas for good carbs.
Yogurt Parfait With Fruit and Nuts
Yogurt parfaits are great because they’re typically made with healthy ingredients like Greek yogurt and fresh fruit, which is thought to increase your metabolism. But the key word here is “thought.” Fruit may have a ton of micronutrients, but it also contains sugar, and if you’ve just worked out, that sugar can cause your blood sugar to spike and then drop suddenly. A sudden drop in blood sugar levels can make you feel tired and hungry again soon after a meal. If you want fruit in your yogurt parfait, we recommend pairing it with some almonds or other nuts for extra protein—nuts will slow down the absorption of the sugar in fruit (and nuts themselves are a good source of protein).
Chicken Burrito Bowl
- If a chicken burrito bowl is the first meal you reach for after a workout, let your trainer know that you want to discuss what foods are best for recovery.
- A burrito bowl could be as unhealthy as some of the worst foods on this list, but it all depends on what toppings and condiments you choose. Piled with rice, sour cream, and guacamole, that burrito bowl will contain more calories than a double cheeseburger. It’ll also provide far fewer nutrients than the vegetables you’d get at Chipotle in place of all those starchy extras.
- Consider making your own version at home if preparing food before or after a workout doesn’t fit into your schedule: Load up on lean protein and carbs from whole grains, and add plenty of veggies or even fruit to make sure you’re getting plenty of nutrition.