I remember in high school my brothers and I would go to the gym after school and would spend hours lifting weights, doing cardio, and playing basketball only to come home with a large appetite and even larger eyes for the fridge. We would clean the shelves, eating everything in sight – thinking it was absolutely okay because we had a great workout at the gym. Looking back, I should have avoided the second serving of steak or not eating enough greens.
Yes, while you should plan to eat something after a workout because that is when you absorb the most nutrients, you should be selective in what you eat in order to see through the healthy lifestyle you’re pursuing by working out.
Only Take What You Need
As I mentioned earlier, I was a hungry teenager. I wouldn’t have said no to an extra serving of steak and would have brushed it off as OK because it’s clean protein. “Considering most of us are sitting behind a desk all day at work, the average sedentary man should have about 56 grams of protein per day, and 46 grams per day for the average sedentary woman. To put this into perspective, a small 3-ounce piece of meat has 21 grams of protein. Although it may be hard, limit yourself to just one serving. You’ll thank me later.
Cap Your Night at One Drink
I understand- after work, happy hour is calling all our names. Unfortunately, all the progress you have at the gym or outdoors sets you back. According to a study drinking alcohol doesn’t let your muscles recover and rebuild. The solemn news is that one glass or beer or wine won’t do any harm, so happy hour away!
Treat yo’self. Within Reason.
My mom would always tell me “You’re not a dog; you don’t need to reward yourself with food for seeing progress.” Sorry mom, I love ya’, but I’ll reward myself- within reason. Here’s the thing, having “cheat days” shocks your system as it’s used to eating clean, and can even help your metabolism without veering off course in your diet. But cheat within reason. If you want to have that slice of pizza because you ran a mile two days ago, go ahead, but don’t do it more than once a week.
Don’t Skip Carbs
I’m not saying to dive into the deep fried chicken wings, but don’t avoid good carbs. Glycogen is critical to building muscle mass. Turn your fork to fruits and complex carbs such as sweet potato.
I always steer off course if I don’t have something already prepared in advance. It’s so easy to go downstairs into a fast food chain and buy something for lunch, but that will ultimately add to the waistline. Cook ahead so you know what to eat after a workout, so you won’t come home like my brothers and I did and sweep the shelves dry.