What food you should NEVER eat before or after a workout: Ditch the salad, avoid sports drinks - and don't feel so bad about a post-gym beer
What you eat before a workout can determine how much energy is used and how much fat is burned.
Your post-workout meal is just as important, since the hours after are crucial for the body to regain energy, rebuild muscle tears, and for muscles to grow.
While many people think a sports drink, salad and an energy bar are the best things to eat after a gym session, we found that’s not the case, and that alcohol isn’t the worst thing to drink post-workout.
Speaking with Daily Mail Online, fitness experts break down which foods should not be eaten before or after a workout.
Experts said salads are not ‘substantial enough’ to restore energy after a gym session
Things you shouldn’t eat before the gym:
Nikki Walters, TEAM athlete at Bodybuilding.com, said eating a light meal or nothing at all is best before a work out.
Instead of focusing just on burning fat and building muscle, the body will also be using a lot of energy on digestion.
It is particularly arduous for the body to multitask fitness and digestion if you ate foods that are high in saturated fat, such as hamburgers or fried eggs, or fiber, such as vegetables.
‘It’s harder to spring, harder to exert energy when you have to digest food you ate before a workout,’ Walters said, adding that things loaded with sugar should also be avoided.
Her suggestion is supported by a 2017 study published in the American Journal of Physiology – Endocrinology And Metabolism which found eating breakfast makes exercise less effective than eating afterward.
Brandon Mentore, a strength and conditioning coach, told Daily Mail Online that foods high in fiber, like vegetables, can impede a successful workout.
Although they are considered healthier alternatives to fatty foods, Mentore said fiber – which promotes the movement of material through the digestive system – also places a high demand on digestion.
‘Higher fiber foods are more demanding and require more digestive capacity, that in turn requires more blood to be diverted to the GI tract and visceral organs which impedes exercise performance,’ he added.
However, Mentore said it’s OK to eat foods with a little bit fiber in them as long as they don’t put a heavy demand on digestion.
‘Fruit happens to work well in this situation,’ said Mentore, who recommended that people eat an apple or a pear, peach, plums, as opposed to vegetables.
Fried eggs and hamburgers:
Because fatty foods like hamburgers and fried eggs are slower to digest, it can take away from the amount of energy needed for a successful exercise.
Mentore said that fatty foods also place a high demand on digestion.
That means the body uses less energy to meet fitness goals, because some energy is being used to digest food.
‘Digestive capacity depends on the person but at any given time when you’re digesting foods significant amounts of blood gets shunted to the GI tract,’ said Mentore, who is also a sports nutritionist.
‘Exercise performance decreases when blood is shunted from the muscle and peripheral tissues, which is why eating large quantities or anything that is digestion heavy isn’t recommended.’
Walters added that due to the slower digestive process fatty foods cause, they are stored as fat, not as energy.
Knocking back soft drinks that contain added sugar, artificial sweeteners, and high fructose corn syrup are not ideal before a workout.
Mentore said this can cause a crash in blood sugar during a workout.
This means people who drink a soda before heading to the gym are more likely to experience shakiness, anxiety, fatigue and dizziness while exercising.
‘The higher the intensity and/or duration of the exercise the more this can become problematic. For example a runner who drinks a mountain dew before a half marathon may hit “the wall” after mile 10 because blood sugar plummets.’ Mentore added.
Things you shouldn’t eat after the gym:
The foods people eat after a workout is just as important, since the post-workout time is when people regain energy and rebuild muscle tears.
Walters said that it’s important for people to eat food that is easy to digest, like whey protein, so that the body can focus on repairing muscles, rather than wasting energy on digestion.
‘Foods that contain a lot of fat are less than ideal to consume relative to carbohydrate and protein after a workout,’ Mentore said.
Sports drinks and energy bars:
These are everyone’s go-to after a workout, but Walters said these products can contain just as much sugar as a soda or candy bar.
Many studies have linked sugar-sweetened beverages to weight gain, including a systematic review released earlier this year by Australian which found sugary drinks are associated with obesity in children and adults.
In other words, drinking or eating sports drinks and energy bar could negate all the progress made in the gym.
Walters suggest that people consume these products if they need electrolytes and to opt for sports drinks and energy bars that are low in sugar and high fructose corn syrup.
Mentore said alcohol isn’t the worst thing people can drink after a workout, but Walters said they are converted to sugar after they’re consumed
Believe it or not, a glass of alcohol isn’t the worst thing to drink after a workout.
However, it becomes an issue when people knock back several glasses of the drink.
‘Beer in particular has a recovery effect that is on par with some recovery sport drinks,’ Mentore said.
He said this is due to the fermentation of the carbohydrates in beer which ‘makes the nutritional content more available and absorbable.’
Mentore added that wine contains substances found plants which is believed to be beneficial to human health and help prevent various diseases. He said this can also aid in post-workout recovery as well.
‘It’s important to note though that a beer every once in a while is ok, not several. Making it a regular practice of consuming alcoholic beverages or carbonated drinks post workout is not recommended at all,’ he said.
Walters added that alcohol can have the same impact as sugary beverages, adding that alcoholic beverages are broken down to sugar once they are int he body.
Walters said many people eat salads after a workout because there’s a ‘misconception’ that this is the best thing to eat after exercising.
‘Salads contain minimal calories,’ she said. ‘They’re not substantial enough for you to restore energy and maintain metabolic rate.’
She added that these salads make people feel hungry and not satisfied after a workout, which could lead to overeating.
Walters suggest that people eat something with protein in it, to help rebuild the muscle.
These type of foods aren’t bad to eat after a workout, they just won’t give people ‘as much of a return on their exercise performance,’ Mentore said.
He added that protein and carbohydrates are beneficial than fat.
Mentore said foods high in protein are important for muscle synthesis, recovery and regeneration. And carbohydrates contribute to muscle building, because ‘insulin is much more sensitive after a workout and consuming carbohydrates can take advantage of the momentary insulin sensitivity to allow for better partitioning of nutrients in to muscle tissue and away from fat tissue.’
Source: Daily Mail