There is NOTHING better than the feeling you get straight after a great workout. Endorphins rushing, blood pumping, feeling muscles you forgot you had! Then, the food cravings start, and you think ‘gosh, if workouts are just going to make me eat more are they worth it?’
The answer is YES, they are worth it. Of course they are. And, before you start losing enthusiasm for all the hard work you’ve done, remember that this is completely normal. You’ve just given your whole body a big wakeup, and as a result, it’s been burning calories and your stored ‘fuel’ to get the best out of your Pilates class or Metcon session.
BUT… this is where it is SO important that you reach for the right food to restore hydration, energy and goodness to your body. So, what’s the best post-workout food to eat (and what should you avoid)?
The key thing to think about with post-workout food is to eat things that are high in nutrients and easily digestible (so the good stuff they are providing your body is easily and quickly absorbed). Because your body is in an optimal state to replenish its protein and glycogen (the two things you lose while working out), you also want to make sure to eat within 45 minutes of finishing your exercise, or at the very least within an hour and a half.
After a workout, you need to eat:
Before ANYTHING else, make sure you rehydrate. You’ve likely been sweating like crazy and lost a lot of fluid, plus it helps your digestion and metabolism. Also, thirst can be mistaken for hunger so making sure you drink first will mean you don’t overload on the food.
Protein helps muscles and provide the body with amino acids (which our bodies cannot store so they need to get from food in our diet daily). Eating protein (combined with carbohydrates) after exercise is the best time for your body to have it. Examples of protein are whey powder, a protein shake (we sell Prana On in the studio and it’s our favourite), salmon, eggs, tuna, quinoa, chia seeds, Greek yoghurt, lentils and chicken.
Carbohydrates are an essential fuel for your body and especially important when doing a high-intensity exercise like our Reformer HIIT. Make sure they are good carbs though. Examples of this are leafy green vegetables, pineapple, banana, oatmeal, quinoa, sweet potato, berries, brown rice and wholegrain pasta.
Lentils, pasta and rice also double up as starches which are also good to help refuel.
Avoid the following foods after a workout:
Some of us can’t live without the stuff, we get it. And if your workouts are the early morning type you might need it to wake yourself up! Just make sure you have your coffee before your exercise. It can actually help you pre-workout by improving performance and muscles. Coffee also increases cortisol levels, which exercise does too, so the double dose is not great for your body or hormones.
Drinks other than water
You need to rehydrate, so any other drinks (juice, tea and especially soft drinks) shouldn’t be consumed.
Things that digest slowly
Hot and spicy foods and chilli is not easy for the body to digest. While red meat can be great at other times for iron and protein, it’s also difficult to digest. Cheese is a protein, but because it’s highly processed it is also a no. And it probably goes without saying, but oily, fatty or fast foods are all on the no list too (plus, why undo all that great work)!
Two surprising additions to the no-list are raw vegetables and nuts. While both of these are so good for you at other times, particularly when snacking, they don’t work post-workout. Nuts digest too slowly so don’t help your body as quickly as it needs to refuel, and raw veg will fill you up but don’t have enough of the protein, starch or carbs you need asap. Save them both for another time.
Want to kick-start your fitness goals too? Come and see us at Pilates & Co. We offer a number of membership and class payment options, and if you’re new to our studio you can take advantage of our free orientation class and our 4 for $80 Introduction offer. You could get really serious and join our 6-week Transformation Challenge.
Not a Gold Coast resident but planning a trip to the Burleigh Heads or nearby? Purchase our 4 for $80 class visitor pass (valid for two weeks). Contact us if you need to find out more.