Being Fit takes a lot of effort and dedication. From finding motivation and time to work out, to planning meals and good workout routines. There are so many things we think about that sometimes we forget that the things we do before and after a workout affect our results as much as the workout itself. The last thing we want of course is to work-out for nothing.

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When we eat right and commit to exercising regularly it may seem hard to understand why we don’t see the progress we would like to see. The truth is that sometimes we sabotage our own progress by silly mistakes we do after a work-out that we can easily avoid. The things you do post-workout are as important as working out itself. That’s why I decided to look into 6 of the most common post workout mistakes people do:

6 post workout mistakes:

1. Oversnacking

This is one of the most common mistakes. Most of us (and I include myself here) overestimate the amount of calories we burned during a work-out. We think that because we feel sore, and we just sweat like we ran a marathon  that means we must have burned 1000 calories. Anyone else here is with me? But the sad truth is that most of the times we burned half of the amount of calories we think. Of course this varies depending what we did for exercise. Jus to give you an idea, a person who weighs 120 pounds (54.5 kg) burns 191 calories in hour of doing Pilates and 298 calories during 30 minutes of weight lifting (this are estimations that were found in previous research). While this numbers are by no means insignificant amounts, they are also not enough calories burned to justify the calories we consume if we over snack. This means that if you eat unhealthy snacks after a workout, most likely you will end up consuming more calories than what you burned which may result on weight gain. Remember that junk food has more calories than we think even when eaten in moderation. So don’t fall into the trap where you think that eating unhealthy snacks after a workout won’t jeopardize your results.

2. Drinking sports drink instead of water

Drinking a sports drink is something you should avoid unless you are a doing a super intense workout for hours (think of athletes). The issue with sports drinks is that they are full of sugar which helps deliver the amount of electrolytes that a body loses during an intense workout. This also means that sports drinks have a lot of calories (some of them contain 330 calories which is almost the same as a serving of ice cream!) Can you imagine eating an ice-cream during your work out? Not even in a million years right?! Drinking a sports drink is consuming unnecessary calories that at the end of the day will just sabotage all your efforts. That’s why if you are working out between 40 to 60 minutes then your best friend to keep hydrated is simply water. If you find yourself really craving a drink with flavor to keep you hydrated during a workout, then try coconut water instead. It has a sweet flavor, barely any calories and is extremely healthy.

3. Waiting too long to eat after a work-out

Some people don’t give much thought to whether they eat or not after a workout. Some others, like me do this automatically because they naturally feel hungry. But which is the right thing to do? After a work-out our bodies are gasping for calories and it is very important to eat something to keep blood sugar levels normal and avoid feeling tired. Ideally you should eat something within 30 to 40 minutes after you are done exercising. Besides the fact that if you don’t eat after a work out you are going to end up feeling more hungry and overeating afterwards, if you don’t eat after a workout you can slow down your muscle building in a long run.

I know sometimes our busy schedules can make it hard for us to work out, and even harder to find time to eat after a workout. Especially is you are working out before you go to work or to school. But it is essential to do so! A good  tip is to prepare your after work-out snacks beforehand. This way once you are done you can just reach out for  it. Try eating foods rich in proteins like eggs or Greek yoghurt with fruits. However, if you really feel like you have no time to sit and eat a real “post-workout meal” that’s okay. There are simple ways that will help you make sure that you always eat something within the ideal time frame. For example I always pack a banana and apple with me when I know I’m going to work out. This way I make sure I get some nutrients into my body right away. regardless if I am in a rush to get somewhere.

4. Eatin snacks high in refined sugars

Okay Fit Girls the fact that you need to eat something after a work out doesn’t mean you can eat anything you want. Eating foods with high levels of high refined sugars after a work out is as bad as not eating anything at all! Here is why: Refined sugar is basically sugar that has been so processed that it contains no nutritional benefits. This means that is has been depleted from vitamins and mineral and transformed into a refined carbohydrate (which are the bad types of carbohydrates). In other words, refined sugar is basically full with empty calories. On top of that, this type of sugar is addictive which means that in the long run the more you eat it, the more you will crave it.

If you eat a snack with high amounts of refined sugar after a workout you will get an energy boost first but it will wear off quickly which will make your body crave for more sugar and feel more tired afterwards. This is known as a sugar spike which means that your body goes from being low in its level of sugar- to being extremely high-to being extremely low again. Obviously having our sugar levels change so drastically, so fast is really unhealthy!

5. Drinking alcohol right after you worked out

Sometimes it may feel tempting to pour ourselves a glass of wine after completing our workout. Especially if you are working out in the evening before ending your day, like me. However reaching for that glass of wine, or any type of alcoholic beverage would be a mistake. To begin with, when we work out we sweat and lose liquids. If on top of that you add booze which is dehydrating the result won’t be nice. Also some studies have shown that alcohol keeps muscle from synthesizing protein after a work out which in turn keeps them from repairing torn muscle fibers. This means more soreness and less muscle growth which is the opposite from what you want to achieve. Also alcoholic beverages are full with calories which is another reason why you should avoid them after working out.

6. Not cooling down and stretching out after your work out

Not cooling down and stretching out is one of the worst things for your body after a workout. When we are exercising our muscles are constantly contracting as we push ourselves through our work-out. If we don’t stretch out we are at higher risk of getting an injury because we don’t bring our muscles back to their natural, relaxed form (stretch out). Also not stretching out can lead to permanent or chronical contractions. As someone who has a chronic contraction, believe me it sucks! It limits your workout because the muscle is basically in the shape of a ball and it hurts when you do certain exercises. As for the cool down, think of it as a car which is driving fast speed and out of the sudden the driver stops abruptly going from 100 km p/h to 0. This will damage the motor of the car at some point right? Well the same counts for our bodies. During our workout our heart beat goes much faster than normal and we are sweating because the temperature of our body rises. Cooling down allows our heart beats to slowly return to its normal pace and our temperature to regulate. Also keep in mind that cooling down and stretching out can prevent muscle soreness the next day (or make it less). Forgetting to cool down is a NO GO and a recipe for disaster. Believe me, this is a mistake I swear by!

Now you know what are some of the silliest mistakes we do after a workout and how they can actually get in the way between us and our ultimate goals. Try to avoid these behaviors and I’m sure before you realize it all your efforts will start to pay off. Remember, what we do after a workout is jus as important as what we do during a workout itself. 

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