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Post-Workout Food & Drink

Whenever I’ve finished a workout, I feel like drinking a lot of water… and then eating a lot of food. Like many people, I sometimes end up eating more calories than I burned during my post-workout meal. This is fine if you’re happy with your weight, but if you’re trying to lose weight, it’s not ideal.  

It’s also extremely important to keep hydrated before, during and after a workout. You lose a lot of fluid and essential electrolytes during a strenuous workout that need to be replaced with either a sports drink or water.

Here are two tips for eating and drinking post-exercise:

Don’t overcompensate

If you’re working out with weight loss as a goal, it’s very important not to overestimate how many calories you burned during your workout, or underestimate how many calories you're consuming in your post-workout meal. It’s very easy to take in enough calories to compensate for those you’ve burned. For example, a 5’4, 140lb woman would burn 302 calories during a brisk 60-minute walk. That’s the same amount of calories in a small “Aloha Pineapple” smoothie from Jamba Juice, a national smoothie chain. Even if you don’t splurge on treats, you may be tempted to sneak second helpings at dinner or be less mindful of your snack portions, and those calories can quickly add up. 


If you sweat heavily, exercise in high humidity, or you workout for longer than 60 minutes, you might need a sports drink rather than plain water during exercise. These drinks are designed to keep you hydrated, and they also contain essential electrolytes to replace those lost in your workout. If your workouts are less strenuous or you workout in a gym or at home, plain water is likely all you need to stay hydrated.

The guideline to follow is to drink at least two cups of water two hours before exercise, another two cups about 15 minutes before you start working out, and another half-cup of water for every 15 minutes during your workout. Once you’re done, aim for another two cups of water or drink until you no longer feel thirsty. An easy way to see if you're dehydrated is to monitor the color of your urine - if you’re well hydrated, it should be clear, not yellow (if you take a multivitamin, your urine may be a bright yellow. This is normal and nothing to be worried about.) 

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Used under Creative Commons Licensing courtesy of Erik Nomm

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