Things you should be avoiding following a workout

A lot of emphasis is placed on what society should do to ensure a proper exercise or workout regime, however not a lot of emphasis is placed on what you should be doing post workout. Following a hard workout session, your muscles are broken down by small microscopic tears in the muscle fibres.

This will cause your glycogen stores to be depleted, making you feel fatigued and much hungrier than prior to your workout. This is perfectly normal as long as you do the necessary things required for adequate recovery, ensuring you are following all the steps to successfully achieve your goals.

However, there are some very common mistakes that people tend to make following their workouts and these mistakes can literally hinder your progress and make you move further away from your goals, even if you are working out hard and consistently.

  • Misconceptions regarding fat in a post-workout meal

The fitness community is stuck in the belief that you cannot eat any sources of fat like eggs, avocados or steak after your workout. This belief has been around for a long time and is based on the fact that fats can slow the digestion of your meals. The idea behind this theory is that the fat would increase the difficulty and duration with which the nutrients get into your muscle cells and for your body to switch to repairing and rebuilding muscle instead of breaking it down.

Additionally, carbohydrates and protein play a big part in the muscle recovery and growth process, whereas fats do not help spike your insulin levels in the same way that carbohydrates do. Fat cannot be used to repair your muscle the way that protein can and in general do not have any direct anabolic properties. However, there is no evidence that suggests it is necessarily bad to have fat following your workout, even though it might slow the absorption of your post workout meal, it shouldn’t really hinder or reduce benefits that you experience.

Even though you do not want to delay your post workout meal, you don’t necessarily need to get all those nutrients into your muscles as fast as possible following a workout, especially if you have had a meal prior to your workout. The bottom line is that it is perfectly fine to have sources of fat after a workout, the exception being if you have not eaten anything in over four hours then you may want to limit your fat intake to help get the nutrients to your muscles faster.

  • Eating too much following a workout

Eating as much  food as you want following a hard workout might not be the best way of rewarding yourself for your hard work. Working out in general is going to make you feel hungrier when you are done and to put it simply, if you are trying to satisfy these food cravings with food you find at your nearest convenience store you are most likely going to end up overeating.

If you are trying to stay lean while building muscle or if you are trying to burn fat, the food you eat will have a bigger impact than the workout you performed. For example, two slices of pizza will require a 45 minute run to burn off the additional calories. This shows how important it is to manage your cravings and to not grab anything that is convenient!

If you find that you struggle with managing hunger following a workout, make sure that you have an already pre-prepared post-workout meal waiting for you in the fridge or even a quick protein shake that can help fill you up and manage your hunger for a little while longer.

  • Skipping stretching and mobility following a workout

Research has shown that static stretching before a workout is not the best approach as holding the stretches can weaken performance, such as running speed and actually tires out your muscles. However, it is very important to make sure that you stretch after your workout, especially if your workouts revolve around lifting weights.

Lifting weights and working out provides many benefits, one of the most obvious being muscle growth and strength over time. The problem being that as muscles get stronger, they tend to get tighter over time and having tight muscles can lead to a whole range of repercussions. For example, if you spend a lot of time training your chest with exercises such as the bench press, you will cause the muscles in your chest to tighten.

Not stretching these chest muscles out will result in tight pectoral muscles pulling your shoulders inward causing rounded posture. These postural imbalances caused by not stretching your tight muscles are far more likely to lead to an injury. Also in general life, even without working out, your muscles will slowly lose some of its elastic properties as you get older.

Resistance training is very important but should always be supplemented with a sufficient stretching and flexibility program. Making it a habit to always stretch after a workout can help you ensure that you maintain proper flexibility and mobility as you get older.

  • Having alcohol after your workout

Working out increases the blood flow to your muscles and blood flow will stay elevated for some time following a workout. Following a workout your body is expecting to receive some micro nutrients along with protein, carbohydrates and fats to start repairing the broken down muscle fibres.

However, drinking alcohol soon after a workout will cause this alcohol to travel through your bloodstream directly to those torn muscle fibers that require good nutrients for repair. Rather than helping your muscles grow , drinking alcohol post workout will lead to further muscle wasting and breakdown along with numerous other negative side effects.

Additionally if you are trying to lose weight by burning fat, your body will prioritize getting the alcohol out of your system before actually breaking down any fat. This will drastically slow down weight loss.

  • Waiting to long to consume the needed nutrients

If you want to maximize muscle growth it has been proven that supplying your body with a consistent flow of amino acids throughout the duration of the day can help keep you in a positive protein turnover rate which is beneficial for muscle growth.

Working out breaks down muscle tissue, which will slowly drain amino acids and put you into a negative protein turnover rate . The only way to counter this and get back into the anabolic muscle building state is to eat and more specifically eat protein to replenish those amino acids. If you had a meal approximately 4 hours prior to your workout, you will have adequate amino acids to start repairing the muscle fibers after a workout.

This implies you do not need to rush to get to your post workout meal, however if you didn’t eat anything all day or it has been more than four hours since your last meal, your body will end up being in a muscle breakdown mode until you take in some amino acids in the form of protein.

If you do consume a meal prior to your workout, waiting for longer periods after your workout to finally eat your post-workout meal, you will still be diminishing your muscular gains and recovery because within that period of time you will run low on amino acids and create a negative  nitrogen balance, leading to further muscular breakdown. To summarize, the best strategy will be to try and always consume a post-workout meal or protein shake within 2 hours following a workout.

  • Not enough protein post workout

Not consuming enough protein will cause you to not have the amino acids required to start rebuilding and regrowing your muscles. Try to have at least 0.14 grams of protein per pound of body weight after a workout. If you are having difficulty getting your required dose of protein through your diet, I highly recommend you use a protein shake to fill your body with the adequate micro nutrients.

  • Not getting enough sleep

It is common knowledge that the three key factors to maximizing muscle gains is to eat, exercise and sleep. Not getting enough sleep will hinder muscle growth just as much as inadequate diet and exercise. Your muscles grow while you rest and recover, not while you are exercising. The biggest leaps towards recovery are made during sleep and as such you should always try to get at least  six to eight hours of sleep consistently.

  • Not drinking enough water after your workouts

Exercise and sweat causes you to lose water weight, this is weight and water that requires replacement to maintain a healthy balance of bodily fluids. You will also lose a lot of electrolytes when you sweat during exercise. However, the best method to rehydrate is not always the electrolyte drinks that many companies promote as most of these drinks are filled with excess sugar and extra calories that can actually hinder your progress. Always try and rehydrate with something natural such as water or alternatives such as coconut water. 

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