Plan and Prep Your Meals
Plan and Prep Your Meals
Do a Mind-Body Scan
Do a Mind-Body Scan
Practice De-Stressing
Practice De-Stressing
Create and Use a Sleep Ritual
Create and Use a Sleep Ritual
Use a Targeted Recovery Strategy
Use a Targeted Recovery Strategy
Think on a Continuum
Think on a Continuum
Eat Mostly Whole Foods
Eat Mostly Whole Foods
Eat Protein and Colorful Plants
Eat Protein and Colorful Plants
Practice 80% Full
Practice 80% Full
Practice Your Fitness Mission
Practice Your Fitness Mission
Maintain Progress
Maintain Progress
Deep Health
Deep Health

Don’t Be Fooled By Fitness Foods

Keep making smart carb choices, both in and out of the gym.

Wow, you totally tore up that workout!

You were like some kind of beast! YEAH BUDDY!!!!

Now that you’ve gotten your sweat on, it’s time for post-workout refuelling.

You grab your spoon and get to work.

You scoop out 8 delicious and nourishing sugar cubes and chow down.

But don’t forget, you need some protein and your fruit too.

So you take a little piece of steak and stuff it into a Twinkie, then slather it with jam.

Now that is one healthy post-workout meal, my friend. Well done.

Wait . . . what?

What’s really in your fitness foods

What you actually consumed there was a bottle of Gatorade and a commercial granola-based protein bar.

One standard-sized bottle of Gatorade contains 32 grams of sugar. That’s about 8 sugar cubes.

(have you ever wondered . . . what exactly makes it blue, anyway?)

And the amount of trans fats, sugar, and artificially processed fruits in a commercial granola-based protein bar makes it more or less equivalent to a deep-fried, jam-slathered Twinkie.

OK, you wouldn’t really eat a pile of sugar cubes and a Twinkie after a workout.

But could you be unwittingly sabotaging your progress with your “fitness food” choices?

Fitness foods are not “healthy”.

Some foods claim to be “healthy”, but aren’t.

Most “fitness foods” fall into this group.

This includes:

  • protein bars
  • “energy bars”
  • “energy gels”
  • granola bars
  • sweetened protein powders or “workout recovery” blends
  • commercial fruit juice-protein shakes such as Jamba Juice or Booster Juice

Sometimes, these things come in handy, or they’re the best available choice.

For instance:

  • If you’re an elite athlete who’s putting in several hours of hard training every day, you might find it easier to grab a granola bar between sessions.
  • If you’re running the Sahara and logging 50 miles a day (like these folks, then an energy/electrolyte gel would definitely be useful.
  • If you’re driving through a rural area with no other food for hundreds of miles, and the only food available at the gas station/trucker bar where you stop for fuel is either a protein bar or some beef jerky that looks like it’s from 1980 . . . go with the protein bar.

Most of the time, processed “fitness foods” are a “worse” choice.

This is especially true for folks trying to lose fat and get healthier (i.e. you!).

Reason 1: They’re highly processed.

For example, here’s an ingredient list from one commercial protein bar.

Soy protein isolate, whey protein concentrate, calcium caseinate, corn syrup, milk chocolate flavor coating (sugar, palm kernel oil, whey protein concentrate, cocoa powder, soy lecithin, natural flavor), chocolate flavor coating (sugar, fractionated palm kernel oil, cocoa powder, whey powder, nonfat dry milk, soy lecithin, natural vanilla flavor), crystalline fructose, Dutch processed cocoa, almonds, water, marshmallow bites (sugar, corn starch, fructose, soybean oil, corn syrup solids, natural flavors, salt, soy lecithin), coconut oil, glycerin, natural flavor, guar gum, apple fiber, non-GMO soy fiber, dicalcium phosphate, magnesium oxide, ascorbic acid, ferrous fumarate, d-alpha tocopheryl acetate, niacinamide, zinc oxide, copper gluconate, calcium pantothenate, pyridoxine hydrochloride, riboflavin, thiamin hydrochloride, vitamin A palmitate, folic acid, biotin, potassium iodide, cyanocobalamin.

That looks like a chemistry experiment mixed to explode.

Reason 2: They’re often higher in calories and simple sugars.

Not good if you’re trying to lose fat. For instance:

The main idea:

One of these “fitness foods” after every workout — or a protein bar plus a sweetened workout drink — starts to add up.

You end up consuming stuff (like sugar and industrial chemicals) that you don’t need or want. Your hard work in the gym goes down the drain.

Here’s what to eat after your workout.

You don’t have to eat special “fitness foods” or rush to gobble something the second your towel hits the bench.

First, if you’re not hungry after your workout, wait a little while. Follow your hunger and fullness cues.

Let your body be your guide.

Second, once you feel truly physically hungry, have a normal meal of real food.

When in doubt, ask yourself:

  • Am I truly physically hungry?
  • Does this meal nourish my body?
  • Does this meal help me look, feel, and perform better?
  • Does this meal add value to my body?

Simple changes = big improvements

You can easily improve the quality of your intake with some simple changes.

  1. Watch for processed “fitness foods”.
    Start by checking your daily intake for sugar-laden workout drinks, protein bars, overly sweetened protein powders, etc.
    Consider whether you truly need or benefit from all of these, all the time.
  2. Ask: What’s the alternative?
    How can you substitute whole, unprocessed choices? Look for small improvements.
    • Instead of Gatorade, plain old water is just fine unless you truly need electrolyte replenishment.
    • Instead of sugary bars, try having a banana or a handful of starchy carbs, such as whole grains or sweet potatoes.
    • Instead of a commercially prepared shake, try a Super Shake (more about Super Shakes). You don’t have to get anything “perfect”. Just shoot for “a little better”.
  3. Slow down. Pay attention. Eat mindfully.
    Don’t guzzle or gobble as you rush out of the gym if you can avoid it. Often, it’s not necessarily the workout that makes “fitness foods” look attractive. Rather, it’s feeling rushed and busy.

Instead of rushing, pause, even for 30 seconds or a couple of breaths, to notice what you’re consuming. Then, make a considerate choice for you and your goals.