The One Thing You Should Never Drink After Working Out, Experts Warn
Enjoying this delicious drink after exercising can do more harm to your body than good.
A good workout is one of the best things you can do for your body. After you finish exercising, you'll want to continue to nurture 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 to make, and sometimes the foods we think of as healthy are actually not ideal. In fact, experts warn that there's one common drink many people enjoy after a workout that can do more harm than good. Read on to see what you should be avoiding when you're feeling parched after exercising.
Avoid sugary smoothies after working out.
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're not going to 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 carbs," says fitness instructor nutritionist Carly James, PhD.
Registered dietitian nutritionist Kristin Gillespie says that post-workout snacks should have a variety of macronutrients, including protein, fiber, and healthy fats in addition to carbohydrates. "Many smoothies are lacking in this balance, containing large amounts of carbohydrates and sugar with minimal other macronutrients present," she explains. Although smoothies contain natural sugars from fruits, consuming any kind of sugary drink after a workout can throw off your post-workout energy levels, resulting in a crash. She advises that if you must have a smoothie after exercising, it should be "rich 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-exercise snack to have more calories than what you just burned. Personal trainer Rohan Arora agrees that you should avoid smoothies that will spike 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 distended stomach. "Bloating and gas issues are common for people who consume regular smoothies, which is exactly the opposite of what you want after your workout," Arora says.
You should also avoid fried food, caffeine, and high-fat foods after working out.
Smoothies aren't the only post-sweat snack you need to be wary of. Co-founder of RockBox Fitness and certified nutritionist Steve Halloran says pre-mixed post-workout shakes are "laden with processed ingredients to make them shelf-stable" and should also be avoided. Drinking caffeine or alcohol is also ill-advised, as it can exacerbate dehydration and hit you harder since your metabolism is higher post-workout.
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, not digesting a challenging meal," she notes. And Gillespie points out that high-fat foods—such as fried foods, oils, and fatty meats—slow down your metabolism, which is less than ideal after working out.
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You should consume a healthy balance of nutrients.
Snacks that strike the right balance of protein, fiber, and carbohydrates can "help sustain energy levels over a longer period of time," Gillespie says. She also notes that post-workout snacks can help to 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 that your body needs following a workout, she explains. Per Arora, eggs, sweet potatoes, chicken, and fish are good options for after a workout if you're looking for a heartier meal.