The Best and Worst Foods to Eat After Your Cardio Clasphotodune-7433137-grilled-chicken-xsYou had a great workout and now you’re starving, time for a treat? Not so fast. If your treat has more sugar and fat than protein and carbs you may want to want to skip it. After exercise your muscles need fuel for recovery. The best kind of fuel helps your body build muscle, boosts metabolism and energy. Sadly, a double dip of your favorite ice cream or a chocolate bar won’t fill the bill.

Eat this

Choosing a good mix of protein and carbs after cardio helps your body make the most of your exercise. Think of the right post-workout fuel as a benefit extender. Working out is like earning an A and the best foods are like the extra credits that give you an A+.

For best results eat within 30 to 60 minutes after exercise. Easy take along snacks include:

  • Hummus with pita bread
  • Peanut butter and jelly on whole wheat bread
  • Greek yogurt with berries
  • Low fat chocolate milk
  • Protein shake with a banana

If you can get to it within an hour, dinner ideas include

  • Grilled chicken with sautéed vegetables
  • Whole Wheat pasta with lean meatballs
  • Whole wheat wrap with hummus and turkey
  • Grilled salmon with veggies and sweet potatoes
  • Black beans and brown rice

Don’t eat this

The danger of a good workout is the pass we sometimes think it gives us to overeat. Working up a sweat may make you feel you’ve earned that pasta alfredo or steak and loaded baked potato. Sure you can indulge your favorite cravings but do it in moderation so you don’t undo everything you did during your workout. Even some marathon runners fall into this trap while training. They run dozens of miles each week and are surprised to find that the scale is still creeping up. Exercise doesn’t necessarily mean you should eat more. It does mean you should try to eat better so your body is prepared for the demands of your activity.

Not so good choices include:

  • Standing at the sink scarfing cookie dough or a pan of brownies.
  • Most anything that is crunchy and comes in a bag – carrot sticks excepted
  • Super-sized anything
  • Foods with high fat and sugar content
  • Foods that are fried and sauced
  • Simple carbs, opt for brown rice or bulgur over white rice

The best food choices add to our health and promote feelings of well-being. They give us the energy and nutrients we need to perform at a higher level. Choose the worst foods only on occasion. After all, you wouldn’t put substandard gas or oil in a Lamborghini, would you? Your body deserves no less care.