Diet and exercise are the key pillars of a healthy life, but they are even more critical for those who struggle to regulate their blood sugar. Believe it or not, 96 million Americans struggle with healthy blood sugar levels, especially after working out.
If you’re trying to keep up with your exercise routines, you probably want to know how to leverage your diet for the best results. Luckily, we’re here to help with that. Let’s talk about the best foods for post-workout recovery to promote healthy blood sugar levels. .
Foods to Avoid
Generally, not just after a workout, there are foods people should avoid to prevent insulin spikes. However, it’s even more important to refuel your body after a workout when your sugar levels are likely to drop.
Ideally, you want to eat primarily complex carbs and quality protein after a workout, with some healthy fats in the mix. Avoid starches and sugars whenever possible. Complex carbs are much better as they take longer to digest, which lowers the risk of blood sugar or insulin spikes.
For example, a handful of berries is better than an ice cream sandwich. Essentially, you want to look for slower-digesting carbohydrates with more nutritional value.
However, that doesn’t apply to anybody when you are trying to regular your blood sugar. Milk already has sugar in it, and adding more is a recipe for a blood sugar spike. Unless your blood sugar is dangerously low after your workout, avoid simple sugars such as:
- Energy drinks
- Baked goods (muffins, donuts, cake, etc.)
- Sugary coffee
- Smoothies (most)
You should also avoid starchy foods, including white potatoes (such as fries, chips, etc.), white bread, and white rice. Maintaining your blood sugar levels is most important.
In general, you should also avoid deep-fried foods or foods that are extremely calorie-dense, like bacon or sausage. Eating smaller meals throughout the day with the right nutritional value is always recommended.
Nutrition for Post-Workout Recovery
When trying to maintain your blood sugar levels, there are certain foods you should try to eat after your workouts to refuel your body and start the recovery process. For example, you should eat some sugars to restore your body’s glycogen stores, which are often depleted after a workout, but they need to come from the right sources.
Always drink water before and after your workout, as post-workout hydration is critical for maintaining blood sugar levels and aiding in recovery. Aim for at least 16 oz before your workout and another 16 oz after.
Throughout the day, especially when exercising, women should aim to drink 11.5 cups of water, and men should aim to drink 15.5 cups.
Eggs and Whole Grain Toast
Whole-grain bread offers a rich nutritional portfolio loaded with fiber, complex carbohydrates, and some protein. Choose a thinly sliced bread if the carbs are too high, ensure that there is no added sugar, and find a bread you enjoy!
If you need some extra healthy fat or calories, add an avocado to your toast or nut butter for an extra protein kick. Are you looking to lower your fat intake? Try using only egg whites.
Don’t eat eggs? Scramble up some tofu for a similar texture and make it the way you like it!
For extra nutrition, scramble your eggs with onions, spinach, and tomatoes. These vegetables are delicious, low in carbs, and high in fiber and micronutrients to aid in recovery.
Meal idea: Egg sandwich or sunnyside up eggs on top of toast. If you need extra sugars, add a piece of fruit to the meal.
Also, for people who prefer to work out in the mornings, half a cup of oats has 23 grams of net carbs, 4 grams of fiber, and 6 grams of protein. Have a glass of milk on the side (or in the oatmeal) for extra protein.
Meal idea: To avoid adding too much sugar, use berries instead of sugary fruits or nut butter for some extra protein.
Greek Yogurt and Fruit
Remember, berries are some of the best fruits you can eat to prevent unnecessary spikes, and they are also loaded with nutrition. Also, there are plenty of options for low-sugar or sugar-free Greek yogurt available today, so mix it in with some berries for a quality post-workout snack.
Meal idea: Need extra carbs? Put some low-sugar granola or overnight oats into your yogurt, along with some berries.
Drink a protein shake along with some oatmeal, berries, or whole grains for a quality protein boost after your workout. A quality protein shake will help refuel your body, help with post-workout recovery, and post-workout hydration, and won’t cause sugar spikes.
Peanut Butter Sandwich
This should only be used with thinly sliced bread or low-carb bread, but always whole grain! Avoid using jelly or “fluff,” and have a glass of skim or 1% milk on the side. The amino acid profiles in bread and peanut butter create a “complete protein,” which means that it’s just as beneficial for post-workout recovery as eggs, meat, or dairy.
Be Consistent About Post-Workout Recovery
Diet and exercise are your best defense against insulin and blood sugar spikes, so take it seriously.
Now that you know some great post-workout recovery meals and nutritional advice, put it to use and keep yourself healthy! Stay up to date with our latest health & fitness news, and feel free to contact us with any questions.