Are You Sabotaging Your Workouts Without Even Knowing It?

It can be tempting after a nice sweat sesh to reach for a cookie or “treat yourself” to something sweet. I mean, you did just put in work, right?  You deserve this!

Well, there’s good news and bad news, but really, there’s more good than bad. 

The good news is, studies show that post-workout is actually the best time to indulge if you’re going to. The reason for this is that after weight lifting and/or cardiovascular exercise, our bodies are in what’s called an anabolic state. This means that due to lifting (or running or swimming or biking, etc), our bodies are basically saying, “Alright you broke me down, now build me up!”  

And guess what can help build us up? Something fast-digesting and processed, like a cookie or a pop-tart or donut holes. (Can you tell what I’m craving as I write this?) 

This isn’t permission (or a encouragement) to load up on the sweets post-workout, because while this is the best time (scientifically speaking) to eat those things, that doesn’t mean they are the best things to eat. It just means that when we consume these typically high carb and sugary foods post workout, they are more likely to be used to repair the muscle we just damaged than they are to be stored as fat like they usually are. 

The bad news is, like I said, this type of post-workout meal consumption is not recommended. Because your body is in that anabolic state of re-building those damaged muscles, what you feed it in order to rebuild them is super important. Just because a donut is going to be used for muscle protein synthesis (rather than go straight to fat stores) immediately after a workout, this doesn't mean it's the best tool for the job.

Think of it like using a spoon versus a knife to cut a slice of bread. The spoon might get the job done, but the knife is more efficient. 

We need to be consuming foods that efficiently repair our muscles and aid in recovery after a workout in order to get maximum results. 

So what are those foods?

Protein and fast-digesting carbs. This is part two of the good news!

You get to eat again after you workout!

Like, you should be eating right after you workout. This part is recommended. Studies vary, but most agree that the body’s anabolic window (the period of time where your body is itching to rebuild) lasts anywhere from 30 minutes to an hour. This means you should be eating a meal high in protein and carbs within an hour after your workout. 

Protein is extremely important to consume post-workout because it is responsible for literally building your muscles. I like to think of lifting weights as knocking down a tower of those blocks we used to play with at carpet-time in kindergarten. After your workout, you need to put the blocks back together, and protein is the man for the job. 

When we say a “high protein” meal, we mean at least 15 grams of protein or more. More on this later, but don’t fall for the “protein bars” in CVS that are labeled as such but only contain about 8g of protein. You might as well just eat an egg (which has more protein), and skip out on all the sugar. 

Here are my go-to post-workout meal options:

-Gladiator smoothie from Smoothie King (20 oz)

-Dark Chocolate Kodiak Cakes (1 serving made with 1/4 c water + 1/4 c egg whites for more protein!)

-egg whites + oats mixed together (courtesy of @sarahackman, head to her instagram for recipe details!)

-PE Science Select Protein + 1/2 banana (I am obsessed with Peanut Butter Cookie flavor!)

-Quest Bar (oatmeal, blueberry, smores = heaven)

-4 oz chicken + apple (or sub white rice for apple)

The main takeaway here is that what you do post-workout is just as important as what you do during (and before, really.) If you think health and fitness is just confined to a set of reps and exercises plus some time on the treadmill, you’re sorely mistaken, and you’re also missing out on tons of benefits (and good food!) of post-workout meal consumption.

Share YOUR favorite post-workout meal in the comments here or on instagram and let me know how this content is helping YOU!