7 Things You Should Never Do After You Work Out
After I (finally) bring myself to work out, all I want to do is eat, nap, and Netflix. Because I worked my butt off, I'll usually go for an all-in meal of all my favorite fatty foods. Naturally, this is not healthy (or helpful) behavior. To find out exactly what I could do—and what I should absolutely stay away from—I tapped a few fitness and health experts for their thoughts on the subject.
Below, you'll find all the drinks you should stay away from, the foods you definitely shouldn't eat, and a few common mistakes you're probably making along the way. Keep reading for all the helpful tips to keep your bod, skin, and wellness in check.
#1 Eat a heavy meal
"After an intense workout, it’s extremely important to give yourself time to cool down before eating, says Leila Fazel, co-founder of Aerospace. "A grueling workout will leave your body stressed and, subsequently, your brain will think you're more ravenous than you actually are. That can end in unnecessary bingeing." Instead, while your body is still revving, give yourself a breather before eating.
#2 Indulge in sugary sports beverage
"People tend to go overboard after a workout, fueling up with sugary drinks like Gatorade or Powerade," explains Fazel. "Unfortunately, those drinks are laden with sugar and high-fructose corn syrup. Though sugar in the short term makes you feel good right away, drinking a ton of sugar after a workout won’t allow your body to metabolize—it’s not rehydrating what your body has lost during the workout. Water is the best fuel post-workout."
#3 Take a nap
Fazel says, "Though your body may be exhausted after an intense workout, resist the urge to take a nap. Going to sleep directly after exercising won't allow your body to relax and cool down. It’s similar to slamming on the brakes in a car. Your muscles are still fatigued and overworked—it’s important to take an hour and a half to two hours to truly cool down before resting."
#4 Rush your stretch
Stretching is one of the most important (and often neglected) parts of a fitness routine. Fazel recommends, "Stretching post-workout helps the breakdown of lactic acid that your body built up during exercise, releasing it through the muscles. Getting into the habit will help avoid injury and soreness, as well as drastically improve your flexibility."
#5 Touch your face with a sweaty towel
"Think about it," SoulCycle instructor and holistic nutritionist Eve Lynn Kessner says. "You wipe your sweat off your shoulders, abs, then your face?! NO! Your hands are filled with germs you (or the person who used that machine before you) sweat out. First thing, wash your hands and splash your face with some cool water. Beauty comes from the inside out, but clogging those pores won’t help your cause."
#6 stay in sweaty clothing
"Take your time hydrating and cooling down after your workout, but don’t walk around all day in sweaty clothing," advises Kessner. "Let that inner glow shine (not chafe), and put on something clean and breathable."
#7 Forget to drink water
Kessner exclaims, "Always hydrate!" She continues, "If your workout was super sweaty, go for some natural electrolytes by way of coconut water—so many juice places now will serve it straight from the shell—or watermelon water (a favorite in my house)."