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Many pre-packaged shakes are filled with unhealthy additives and tons of sugar—not to mention common allergens such as soy and dairy.

Why does what you eat after a workout matter?

A DIY shake can be a healthier way to replenish those muscles, but keep an eye on the portion size and sugar. Adding too many ingredients can quickly turn your healthy "snack" into a high-calorie meal. Don't be wooed by clever marketing and labels that boast an impressive list of health claims—energy bars are often nothing more than candy bars in disguise.

With most having more sugar than a doughnut and an ingredient list that reads like a chemistry textbook, it's time to exchange these highly processed snacks for a better choice. You don't have to give up the convenience of a bar, but ditch the ultra-processed kind for one made with real, whole-food ingredients ideally with a ratio of carbohydrates to protein to refuel post-workout.

It's tempting to consider that sweat-filled, calorie-torching workout as license to hit the nearest drive-thru, but your body will not thank you.

The high amounts of fat in fast food slow the digestion process in your gut, meaning your body takes longer to absorb those much-needed nutrients into the muscles. Fast food also tends to be high in calories, which means it takes much less food than you think to completely negate what you burned in training. Consistency in exercise is key, and that means that post-workout, one of your biggest goals should be refueling for the next workout.

What to Do After a Workout

Having a low-carb meal for recovery doesn't adequately provide your body with the carbohydrates it needs to replenish glycogen stores—leaving you under-recovered the next time you hit the gym. Post-workout, high quality carbohydrates are a must: whole-grain breads, oatmeal, sweet potatoes, brown rice and fruits are rich in carbohydrates that your body uses to rebuild muscle and provide energy for training sessions to come.

Say what? While we know this may be the only time you hear us suggest skipping the vegetables, your body needs more than just raw veggies to replenish muscle energy stores after a workout.

Good Food Choices to Eat After a Gym Workout

Veggies are amazing low-calorie, nutrient-dense, fiber-providing machines, but they lack the nutritional basics of a great post-workout meal: moderate-to-high carbs with some fat and protein. Your best bet is to stick with something post-workout that will effectively fuel energy stores and save those veggies for delicious snacking later. Those tiny, portable packages of nut butters may seem like an ideal post-workout snack, but our bodies need more carbohydrates and protein than they provide. Ingesting only fats even if they are the healthy kind!

If you find you are craving healthy fats after your next workout, pairing a serving of nut butter with a piece of fruit will ensure your body gets an ample amount of carbohydrates to help replenish your muscles.

Eating and exercise: 5 tips to maximize your workouts

Yes, we know you need to replenish your glycogen levels after a tough workout, but these artery-clogging, fat-and-sugar bombs are not the best way to go about it. The large amount of fat in these treats slows the digestion process in the gut and can delay the absorption of much-needed nutrients.

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And speaking of nutrients, there are few to be found amongst the refined sugar and flours of these sweets. A better carb option would be a piece of whole-wheat toast with peanut butter or low-sugar fruit preserves. Salty foods like potato chips may sound like a great way to replenish sodium levels after a long run, but these crunchable snacks can provide too much of a good thing.

Snacks like chips or pretzels are high in sodium and chloride, but low in other minerals like magnesium, potassium and calcium, which are key electrolytes used by the body to recover.


Though it's important to replenish sodium levels after a workout especially if you sweat excessively , the American diet is already high in salt and most of us get more than we need. Ingesting too much salt post-workout can contribute to raising sodium levels above the recommended amounts, which can elevate your risk for high blood pressure and other serious health problems. You just crushed that morning workout. Time to celebrate with mimosas at brunch, right? Sorry to be a buzzkill, but drinking after a training session dehydrates you, reduces protein synthesis and packs on empty calories.

Mayo Clinic Minute: Foods to fuel your workout

For example, if you eat two hours before your workout, the body needs to grams of carbohydrate and 15 to 20 grams of protein. However, if you eat one hour before, the body needs just 60 to 70 grams of carbohydrate and 5 to 10 grams of protein. In the post-workout recovery phase, eating as soon as the body is able following the workout provides several benefits. Physical exertion burns through electrolytes, calories and glycogen, so these depleted energy stores need to be replenished through nutrition.

After the workout, you should always aim for a combination of these macronutrients because, whether you focus on endurance or resistance training, your goal is to increase muscle hypertrophy. To make that happen, the muscles harden and strengthen with protein synthesis, suggests The Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition.

This accelerates recovery and optimizes the results you see. A baseline for water consumption is to drink 2 to 3 cups two hours before a workout, then another cup between five and 10 minutes before you start moving, according to the University of Colorado Hospital. Use these tips and suggestions to give your body what it needs after a workout. When you get your pre- and post-workout meals set up just right, you give your muscles what they need to grow so you can see the results from all your hard work.

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Or give it a thumbs up! I like this article You liked this article Thanks! Please note that the information provided in the Polar Blog articles cannot replace individual advice from health professionals. Please consult your physician before starting a new fitness program. To help you set and hit your fitness goals, CrossFit coach Frederik Aegidius advises how to avoid having your workout plans derailed when life gets in the way. While a simple activity tracker is great, the added value of monitoring your heart rate can take your fitness to a whole new level.

Check out the stat highlights from our infographic. Obstacle course racer, CrossFit athlete Christian Jonsson explains how to break the monotony of sit-ups and crunches with effective core exercises. WHAT TO Eat before A workout When munching on pre-workout fuel, consider the ratio of carbohydrates to proteins and how each will benefit your training.

Your fuel amounts should differ based on when you choose to eat. Read more In the spotlight Jessica Sanders Thiefels. Next up How to set and hit your fitness goals To help you set and hit your fitness goals, CrossFit coach Frederik Aegidius advises how to avoid having your workout plans derailed when life gets in the way.

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