8 Things To NEVER Do After a Workout
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After a workout, your muscles are left broken down due to microscopic tears, and your glycogen stores are depleted. This leaves you feeling a little more tired and much hungrier than you felt before you started.
This is all perfectly normal as long as you do the right things after your workout to recover and take your body one step closer to your goal of burning fat or building muscle.
Here are 8 common things NEVER to do after a workout if you want to build more muscle and burn off that stubborn fat.
8 Post-Workout Mistakes
There are some very common mistakes that so many people are making at the end of their workouts. These mistakes can kill your progress and move you further away from your goal even if you’re working out hard and consistently.
Find out what you should be eating and doing after a workout to boost recovery. Avoid making these common weight loss and muscle building mistakes and you’ll get to your goals faster.
Mistake #1: Not eating sources of fat
The first mistake that I want to start with is believing that you can’t eat any sources of fat like eggs, avocado, or steak after your workout. This belief has been around for a long time, and I used to believe it too.
It’s based on the idea that fats can slow the digestion of your meal. This means that it takes longer for the nutrients to get into your muscle cells. And it takes longer for your body to switch from breaking down muscle to repairing and building muscle.
On top of that, while carbohydrates and protein play a big part in the recovery and muscle growth process, fats don’t help spike your insulin levels the way that carbs do. They can’t be used to repair your muscles the way that protein can, and typically they don’t have any direct anabolic properties.
Fats aren’t necessarily bad…
But with all that said there’s no evidence that it’s bad to have fats after your workout. Even though it might slow down the absorption of your post-workout meal, it shouldn’t hurt you or reduce the benefits that you experience.
While you don’t want to wait too long, you don’t need to get those nutrients into your muscles as fast as possible after a workout.
If your meal takes a little longer to absorb because you added fat to it, it’s not going to make a massive difference especially if you’ve already had breakfast or ate before your workout.
Even though the research that we have is limited and is based on cyclists rather than weightlifters, that research does still support that idea that even if you consume a very high-fat meal after working out—where 45 per cent of the calories are coming from fat—the recovery process should not be negatively affected .
The bottom line…
It’s okay to have sources of fat like whole milk instead of skim milk with your protein shake after a workout .
But if you haven’t eaten anything in over 4 hours, then you may want to limit your fat intake after your workout to help get nutrients to your muscles faster.
Mistake #2: Too many post-workout rewards
The next mistake is going overboard with rewarding yourself for your workout with food.
I’ve seen people with my own eyes, hit the gym and then right afterwards, stop at a 7-11 and pick up some candy.
Although one of the best times to have sugar is immediately after your workout. This is because it’ll help spike your insulin levels. But remember: there’s a big difference between having a banana versus sour patch kids.
Generally, working out is going to make you feel hungrier when you’re done.
And, if you’re trying to satisfy the hunger with food found at your closest convenience store, you’re probably going to wind up overeating, especially if that food is candy.
While that’s okay if you’re doing a dirty bulk—if you’re trying to stay lean while building muscle, or if you’re trying to burn fat—the food you eat will play a bigger role than the workouts you perform.
For example, if you have 2 slices of pizza, you’ll have to run for about 45 minutes to burn those calories off.
The bottom line…
You mustn’t lose your will power and give in to the increased hunger that you’ll feel after a workout by going for just any random food that comes your way.
If you find that you have a problem with managing hunger after your workout make sure that you have an already prepped post-workout meal waiting for you.
Even a quick protein shake can help fill you up and reduce hunger for a little bit.
Mistake #3: Not stretching post-workout
Another thing you should never skip after your workout is stretching.
Even though it’s not very wise to perform static stretches before your workout, it’s very important to make sure that you stretch after your workout. This is particularly important especially if your workouts revolve around lifting weights.
Working out and lifting weights provides many benefits. One of the most obvious benefits is that your muscles will get stronger and stronger over time.
The consequences of not stretching
The problem is that as they get stronger, they’ll also get tighter and tighter over time. And having tight muscles can lead to a whole bunch of consequences.
For example, if you train your chest often with exercises like the bench press and flyes, but you never stretch your chest after your workouts, your chest will probably get tighter over time.
When your pecs get tighter, they pull your shoulders forward and together, which contributes to a rounded shoulder posture.
On top of the postural imbalances that you can create by not stretching, tight muscles are also much more likely to lead to an injury.
The bottom line…
Even if you don’t work out, your muscles will slowly lose their elastic properties as you age. And while resistance training is very important, having a flexibility program and stretches that you engage in consistently is just as important.
By making it a habit to always stretch after your workout, you can help ensure that you maintain maximum flexibility and mobility as you get older.
Mistake #4: Too much alcohol
Next is alcohol. As you may know, alcohol is bad to have before a workout for some pretty obvious reasons. But it’s also really bad to have alcohol after your workout.
When you work out you increase the blood flow to your muscles. And blood flow will stay elevated for some time after your workout.
After your workout, your body is expecting to receive some micronutrients as well as protein, carbs, and fats to start repairing your broken-down muscles.
But if you drink alcohol soon after your workout, it will be shuttled through your bloodstream directly to those torn up muscles that need good nutrients for repair.
The bottom line…
Rather than helping your muscles grow, drinking alcohol after a workout will only lead to further muscle wasting and breakdown as well as other negative side effects. If you’re trying to burn fat, your body will prioritize getting the alcohol out of your system over breaking down fat. In turn, this drastically slows fat loss.
Mistake #5: Waiting too long to eat post-workout
As opposed to eating too much after your workout, the next mistake is waiting too long to provide your body with the nutrients it needs to recover.
The anabolic window is indeed a myth. For those of you that don’t know, the anabolic window is a short period of time after your workout—usually within 30 minutes—where you absolutely must either eat or take down a protein shake to make sure that you don’t lose gains.
Well, this is not true. You don’t have to rush home as fast as possible to eat a meal.
If you want to maximize muscle growth it’s proven that supplying your body with a consistent stream of amino acids throughout the day can help keep you in a positive protein turnover rate. This is essential for muscle growth.
When you work out you break down muscle tissue. This slowly drains amino acids and puts you into a negative protein turnover rate. The only way to reverse this and to start building muscle again is to eat. More specifically, you need to eat protein to replenish those amino acids.
The good news is that as long as you’ve had a meal somewhere within about 4 hours before your workout, you really shouldn’t worry about rushing to take in your post-workout meal. This is because the amino acids that you took in before your workout can easily be used to start repairing your muscles after the workout.
However, if you didn’t eat anything all day before your workout or it’s been hours upon hours since your last meal, your body will end up being in a muscle breakdown mode after your workout rather than a muscle-building mode until you take in some amino acids.
Even if you do eat before your workout, if you wait 10 hours after your workout to finally eat your post-workout meal, you’ll still probably be hurting your gains and recovery. Because within those 10 hours you’ll run low on amino acids and create a negative nitrogen balance. This leads to muscle breakdown.
The bottom line…
Although you don’t have to rapidly make a protein shake at the gym after your workout to ensure that you don’t miss the anabolic window, it still is a good idea to not wait too long. In most cases, it’s best to eat a post-workout meal or shake at least within 1 to 2 hours after your workout.
Mistake #6: Not enough protein post-workout
And this brings me right to the next mistake, which is not having enough protein after your workout. Without consuming enough protein, you won’t have the amino acids required to start rebuilding and growing your muscles.
You want to have at least 0.14 grams of protein per pound of body weight after your workout.
So, for a 215-pound man like myself, I would want to have at least 30 grams of protein post-workout.
You can achieve this with a protein bar, a protein shake, or a meal. Just make sure you get some protein in within a reasonable time after your workout to start the muscle repair process.
Also, remember that generally, meals are better than shakes. So even if you have a post-workout shake try to still eat a high protein meal later on.
Mistake #8: Not getting enough sleep
Another big mistake is depriving yourself of sleep after your workout. It’s pretty common knowledge that the 3 big things that you need to do to maximize muscle growth are to:
- train, and
I’ve seen people nail the first two, but without getting enough sleep you’ll struggle to build muscle just as much as you would if you weren’t eating or training correctly. Your muscles grow while you rest and recover, not while you hit the gym.
The bottom line…
The biggest strides that your muscles make towards full recovery are made while you’re sleeping.
Staying up all night watching tv or playing video games can diminish your returns from eating right and training hard.
Do your best to get at least 6 to 7 hours of sleep per night regularly.
And don’t forget…
Last but not least, don’t forget to drink plenty of water after your workout especially if you’ve sweat a lot during your workout.
When you exercise and sweat you lose water. You need to replace the water that’s lost to maintain a healthy balance of body fluids.
You also lose electrolytes when you sweat.
Some great marketers have made many people believe that to replace those electrolytes you need to grab yourself something like Gatorade. But don’t make that mistake.
Gatorade is far from the ideal post-workout drink to rehydrate with, especially if you’re trying to watch your calories. Instead, just make sure you have enough water. If you’re concerned about replacing electrolytes after a workout that makes you sweat profusely then you can go for coconut water instead of Gatorade.
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- 45% fat intake for cyclists after their workout didn’t seem to have any negative effects on muscle glycogen recovery.
- Whole milk may have increased utilization of available amino acids for protein synthesis (when compared to skim milk).
My passion for fitness began when I was 14 years old. I naturally fell in love with training and haven’t stopped since. At 18 years I acquired my first personal training certification from ACE after which I opened my first of 3 transformation studios in 2011. I love to share my knowledge through personal training, my online courses, and youtube channel now with over 3,000,000 subscribers! I can happily say that we've helped over 15,000 people get in great shape over the years. I'm always here for my customers so if you need help don't hesitate to send your questions to firstname.lastname@example.org