What Not to Eat After a Workout

Here I am on Day 5 of my Gluten-Free meal plan.  Aside from going through bread-withdrawal, I imagine I’m doing okay overall.  Weigh-in is on Monday morning and even with the exercise, I don’t feel much has changed.  However, I’m hopeful that if I keep it up, something is bound to make a difference, one way or another.

I came across an interesting article today about what NOT to eat after a workout.  That thought never really crossed my mind.  After reading what Dina Aronson, RD had to say on Ivillage.com about this topic, I thought I’d summarize her findings.  Too bad my workouts aren’t strenuous enough to break a sweat; at least not for the time being.  Maybe I’m not pushing myself enough.  I’ll add a few extra reps or minutes with the jump rope tomorrow.  For now, here are a few pointers:

Foods to Avoid after a Workout

High-Sugar Energy Bars.  They may cause a spike in blood sugar.  Try low-fat yogurt with fruit instead.

Raw vegetables.  They aren’t substantial enough to help your muscles recover, keep your metabolism active or maintain energy levels.  If you want to snack on them, eat with hummus or yogurt dip.

Cheese is usually processed and high in saturated fat.  An alternative would be cheese-flavored soy chips.

Soda and fruit drinks.  Need I say more; may as well drink battery acid.  Sugar spikes blood levels and artificial sweeteners trick the body into craving more sugar.  Try iced herbal tea or water with fresh lemon or lime for a refreshing drink.

Salty snacks disrupt the body’s water/salt balance.  Low-sodium baked chips would be a better substitute.

Bread.  Here we go.  I didn’t even want to mention it.  I’m such a bread addict, it kills me not to be able to have it.  Bread has starch that quickly turns to sugar.  Choose a nutrient packed whole grain tortilla or bread slice with a little nut butter and a few banana slices instead.  Gluten-free choices are also available from health food stores.

Pizza.  Again, similar to bread dough, pizza has too much saturated fat and salt, not to mention white flour with little nutrition.  Try half a whole grain English muffin or pita with some sautéed veggies and a sprinkle of low-sodium cheese.  I’ll pass on gluten-free brands because they’re packed with additives and sugar as well as being expensive.

Candy or Chocolate.  We all know candy elevates blood sugar levels after a workout.  If you crave chocolate, have a piece of dark chocolate or a glass of skim chocolate milk (regular or almond).

Cereal.  Again, some contain too much sugar.  Substitute 1/4 cup low-sugar granola with fruit and nuts; no-sugar-added trail mix with 1 cup unsweetened vanilla almond milk; or a 1/2 serving of unsweetened plain cereal, like shredded wheat or Grape Nuts.  I’ll skip all together for now.

Doughnuts and Pastries.  I know, but these were also on the list of foods to avoid, like we wouldn’t know that!  They’re high in saturated fat and sugar.  Try whole-wheat toast and peanut butter instead.

Pancakes.  Old fashioned ones sure taste great but between the white flour and typical toppings of syrup, butter and powdered sugar, fuggetaboutit!  Go for whole- grain, oatmeal or buckwheat pancakes toppings like bananas, blueberries, and strawberries, or toast a whole-grain frozen waffle served with nut butter and a few banana slices.  Again, there are gluten-free varieties but one needs to be careful for an overload of additives.

Fried eggs.  Anything fried contains too much saturated fat.  Try boiled eggs (I keep several hard boiled on hand in my fridge regularly) or an egg-white omelet with a few chopped veggies (sans butter) instead.

French fries.  Sounds counterproductive to exercise and then have French fries.  But they are a weakness of mine.  Thinking “grease” will make you change your mind.  Half a baked white or sweet potato with a tiny scoop of black beans and salsa would be a better choice.

Smoothies.   I love smoothies, especially after working out.  However, you’ll need to replace juice with skim or low-fat milk, regular or almond, some frozen berries or ½ banana with a small handful of walnuts, cashews, almonds or unsalted pistachios.  Blend well.

Bacon & Other Processed Meats.  These can be linked with the other foods high in salt and saturated fat. Try a fresh turkey or chicken wrap either in lettuce leaves or in a whole grain pita with tomatoes and a little seasoning.  Stay away from cold cuts or processed meat though.

After putting all the effort into maximizing a workout session, the last thing you would want to do is replace all the calories you just burned with unhealthy food.  Although it didn’t sound like I had many options, most of the above foods are readily available in my refrigerator and pantry.  I spent almost $20 more on my grocery bill last week from purchasing specific gluten-free products which seem to be extremely overpriced. 

Sixteen days remain.  I’m keeping my fingers crossed.  Now, if I could only have just one OREO cookie!

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