11 Nutrition Myths That Cause Weight Gain

Losing weight is a journey, a confusing one at that. End the confusion with these myth-busting tips from Shape!

1. Going vegan is a healthy way to lose weight.

“While various research shows that vegetarians and vegans, on average, consume fewer calories and less fat than omnivores (a 2009 Oxford study found that vegetarians weigh 3 to 20 percent less than their meat-eating counterparts, and a National Cancer Institute study found that subjects who consumed four ounces or more of red meat weekly were 30 percent more likely to die of any cause than those who ate less), these numbers may be misleading,” says Rania Batayneh, MPH, a certified nutritionist and owner of Essential Nutrition for You.

Going vegan solely for weight loss can backfire, big time. If you aren’t vigilant with a vegan diet, it’s easy to lack in vital nutrients, vitamins, and proteins, which give you energy and help keep your metabolism stoked. Many first-time vegans may also find themselves reaching for more processed foods like vegan cookies, chips, or even ‘ice cream’ more often with such a restricted diet, and many end up packing on the pounds instead.

If you do decide to adopt a vegan diet, be sure to keep the ‘treats’ to a minimum and plan balanced meals. “Aim to get about 10 to 20 percent of your calories from protein (or about 1 gram per kilogram of body weight), replacing animal protein with healthy plant proteins, like those found in beans, legumes, nuts, seeds, and soy products,” Batayneh says. “And, whether you are vegan or not, eating more green, leafy vegetables is great for your health and your waistline.”

2. Cut all carbs to shed pounds.
Your body needs ‘carbs’ for energy, and many carbohydrate foods are rich in essential vitamins, nutrients, and dietary fiber that help you stay full and fuel your workouts. “Eliminating carbohydrates not only reduces whole grains, B vitamins, and a good source of fiber, but it also reduces your body’s feel-good capacity (it’s no wonder that most comfort foods are carbohydrate based),” Batayneh says.

Plus, cutting out food groups may only make you crave them more, and you may find yourself finishing off an entire bag of chips in a moment of weakness. “Starches and carbs are actually an important tool in weight management,” Batayneh says. “They provide belly-filling fiber, complex carbohydrates to keep your engine running all day, and they stimulate the production of serotonin, the feel-good neurotransmitter that regulates mood.”

Stay healthy, full, and happy while dropping the lbs. by swapping out processed carbs for fiber- and nutrition-filled foods like vegetables, fruits, and whole grains.

3. Diet drinks are a good way to cut calories.
You may think you’re doing yourself a favor by sipping artificially sweetened drinks, but recent research says you may just be setting yourself up to crave sweets even more. ‘Fake’ sugar can trick our bodies, since we aren’t actually providing it with any calories to back up the sweetness, causing a vicious cycle of cravings. “Artificial sweeteners tend to trigger your appetite, making you want more and more sugar, but without actually satisfying a desire for sweets like normal sugar does,” Batayneh says. “Diet soda-drinkers may end up eating tons of sugary and fatty snacks in order to satisfy their cravings.”

Case in point: One University of Texas study found that people who drink diet soda regularly (more than two per day) had a 70 percent greater waist circumference than those that don’t. Not to mention, diet sodas are also often loaded with additives, including caramel coloring, which is made by reacting sugars with ammonia and sulfites, resulting in two compounds that have been found to cause lung, liver, and thyroid cancers in mice, Batayneh says.

4. Fat-free snacks are better for your waistline.
“Reduced-fat versions of snacks typically have been stripped of one quarter of their original healthy monounsaturated fats, and to replace that flavor, the brand adds in fillings, additives, and sugar — all for the same amount of calories,” Batayneh says. “Picking reduced-fat products may even end up hurting your waistline: in one study, average-weight participants ate 22 percent more calories if the food was labeled ‘low fat’ and overweight participants ate up to 50 percent more.”

Your body needs fat to absorb vitamins, and it may also help you shed pounds — a recent Stanford University study found that people on a moderate-fat diet lost twice as much weight as subjects eating a low fat diet.

So skip the highly processed, fat-free snacks that are basically empty calories and fill up on healthy, whole foods that will help you stay satisfied on a lower-calorie diet such as avocados, nuts, and coconuts.

5. Fruit has too much sugar to be healthy for weight loss.
With all the sugar that is added to processed foods, the sugar in fruit is the least of your worries. Getting rid of fruit means you are losing out on valuable vitamins and nutrients that your body absorbs easily since they’re found in their natural, whole state.

“Eliminating fruit from your diet when trying to lose weight makes no sense,” Batayneh says. You’ll miss out on a whole lot of filling fiber, which studies have directly linked to long-term weight loss, and you may be more likely to reach for other processed, empty food items instead.

6. Protein shakes will help you lose weight.
Drinking protein shakes alone can’t help you lose weight, but replacing a meal with them could. The trouble is, many would-be dieters make the mistake of adding in a shake to their current daily intake, which can pack on the pounds (this is why bodybuilders trying to gain size use them often).

If you want to add protein shakes to your diet, look for a mix that is low in sugar and has a short ingredient list. Depending on the calorie count, and what you add to it (Batayneh recommends whey protein, milk, and fruit), you can substitute a shake for a snack or a meal to help move the scale down, not up.

7. A high-protein diet is the best way to shed fat.
While protein is important for weight loss, eliminating other food groups (like carbs) for the sake of eating more protein could be setting you up for a carbo-loading binge later. Plus, you may be missing out on the fiber, vitamins, and minerals found in unprocessed carbohydrates, and you run the risk of eating too much fat in your diet, which can lead to high cholesterol and triglycerides, Batayneh says.

Skip the yo-yo cycle and round out your meals with a healthy balance of protein, carbohydrates, and fat. “When you have all three macro-nutrients in your diet, you are less likely to feel deprived and may experience less cravings.”

8. Swear off all your favorite fattening foods to lose weight.
Anyone who has ever sworn off pizza, chocolate, or chips knows that as soon as you tell yourself you can’t have them, you start dreaming of swimming in gooey, cheesy pizza or rich, dark chocolate cake. “Moderation is key. We tend to be in ‘all or nothing’ mode when we diet. And while you can’t have pizza, french fries, and chocolate cake all in the same day, with careful planning, you can still enjoy them in moderation,” Batayneh says. Have your cake, and eat it too — just share it with a friend or save the other half for another day.

9. Eating after 8 p.m. makes you fat.
Eating after a certain hour won’t necessarily mean you’ll pack on pounds, just as staying out after midnight won’t turn you into a pumpkin. This Cinderella-esque fat fairy tale continues to exist, but the bottom line is that your metabolism doesn’t know what time it is, Batayneh says.
Skip the mad rush to consume as much food as you can before the clock strikes 8:00.

“Calories are calories, no matter when you eat them, but what does matter is what and how much of it you eat. Late-night snacking gets a bad rap because often the foods that are consumed late at night are calorie-dense foods (chips, ice cream, pizza, and other junk food) and may be in excess calories to your daily caloric needs, which translates to weight gain.”

10. You’ll burn more fat if you don’t eat before a workout.
Exercise normally burns away your glycogen (carbohydrate) reserves, and when you’re done burning those, you’ll start dipping into your fat stores for energy. It’s true that when you’re already running on empty, you burn fat right away, but you’ll likely run out of steam before your workout is over or end up ravenous and grabbing whatever food you can find in an attempt to refuel afterwards, Batayneh says.

“Energy comes from calories. A study from the University of Birmingham compared two groups of cyclists — some ate before their workout and the others fasted. While the group who fasted did end up burning more fat, the group who ate cycled at a much higher intensity than the fasting group, and burned more calories. A person needs fuel to run, just like a car, so find the foods that give you the energy to work out at your hardest.”

11. You can eat whatever you want on weekends.
If you do the math, eating ‘whatever you want’ Friday-Sunday adds up to 12 days, or almost half of a 30-day month! Not exactly the recipe for weight loss success. “When you throw caution to the wind on the weekends it can actually offset the consistency and success you had all week,” Batayneh says. Instead of taking a no-holds-barred approach to your weekends, Batayneh recommends trying to scale back the little things that really add up like the bread basket and having a few extra glasses of wine during dinners out, along with mindless munching out of boredom.

What a nutritionist eats when she starts feeling sick

Lee Holmes soup
Photo: Fair Winds Press
You’re at the office, hard at work, when your cubicle-mate shows up with a fist full of tissues and a nagging cough. Cue: panic. What can you do to avoid catching contagious bugs (short of threatening to work from home until spring)?
Heal Your Gut
Photo: Fair Winds Press

Cook. After all, you are what you eat, so whipping something up in the kitchen that’s both immunty-boosting and inflammation-fighting can help protect you from the inside out. At least, that’s what Lee Holmes, certified health coach, yoga teacher, and author of Heal Your Gutdoes when she starts to feel an inkling of sickness coming on.

Because she’s a pro, she’s devised a plan that doesn’t require holding your nose while chugging down some terrifying concoction. From vitamin C loaded nacho chips (yes, really!) to a soothing lemongrass Thai soup that will put your Seamless fave to shame, these recipes will fight the good fight all winter long.

Might be time to come up with another way to use those sick days….

Keep reading to see what nutritionist Lee Holmes eats when she starts feeling sick.

Lee Holmes turmeric Nachos
Photo: Lee Holmes

For a cold: Nachos—with a twist

Forget chicken soup—Holmes is all about snacking on nacho chips when she starts getting a little sniffly. The key here: they’re golden nacho chips. Yep, there’s turmeric in there.

The anti-inflammatory root “is good for all-around immunity, and I make my nachos with grated orange zest to get in some vitamin C, too,” she says. “Plus, the combo gives them just the loveliest color.”

Ingredients
1 cup almond meal
1 large organic egg
1 tsp turmeric
1/4 tsp cumin
1/4 tsp coriander
1 tsp grated orange zest
1 tsp Celtic sea salt
2 tomatoes, diced
1 cucumber, diced

1. Preheat the oven to 350°F.

2. Place all the chip ingredients in a large bowl and mix with a wooden spoon to form a dough.

3. Place the dough on a clean work surface between two pieces of parchment paper. Roll the dough out until it is 1/16 inch thick.

4. Remove the top piece of baking paper and transfer the dough and bottom piece of baking paper to a baking tray. Using a sharp knife, deeply score the dough every 1 1/4 inch, then do the same in the opposite direction so you form squares. Bake in the oven for 12 minutes.

5. Allow to cool before breaking them apart. To assemble the nachos, place the nachos chips on a chopping board, and top with the remaining ingredients. Any leftover chips will keep in an airtight container for up to three days.

Lee Holmes ginger tea tonicPhoto: Pixabay/Condesign

For a stomach bug: Ginger tea tonic

Gut problems are the worst. Luckily this is Holmes’ area of expertise, so she has a sure fix. “If you have a gut bug, garlic, ginger, and lemon in hot water is the best thing to drink,” she says. “Garlic is anti-bacterial, so it helps kill bad bacteria hanging around the gut, and the ginger is going to sooth you.”

Can’t tolerate sipping garlic? Holmes says a mixture of turmeric, ginger, lemon, and honey in hot water is a potent anti-bacterial alternative.

Ingredients
2 cups water
4 cloves garlic, minced
4 chucks of ginger root, grated
1 lemon

1. Boil water. Place garlic and ginger in water and leave covered for 15 minutes.

2. Add the juice from one lemon. Pour into a mug and drink.

Lee Holmes lemongrass Thai soup
Photo: Fair Winds Press

For a bacterial infection: Lemongrass Thai soup

“This recipe is a kaleidoscope treasure chest of medicinal herbs and spices,” Lee says. “The plant oils of lemongrass in particular have been shown to inhibit multi-resistant strains of bacteria and yeast, making it a must-have ingredient for strong immunity.”

You’ll also find Holmes’ go-to spice in the recipe (turmeric), along with apple cider vinegar.

Ingredients
3 cups vegetable stock
3 1/4 inch piece of galangal, peeled and grated
2 stalks of lemongrass, cut into 2-inch pieces
3 or 4 kaffir lime leaves, torn
4 scallions, sliced
7 drops liquid stevia
1 can additive-free coconut milk
1 Tbsp apple cider vinegar
2 Tbsp wheat-free tamari
1 red pepper, seeded and sliced
1 cup mushrooms, quartered
1/4 cup lime juice
Grated zest of one lime
Freshly cracked black pepper, to taste
Cilantro leaves, to serve

1. Bring the vegetable stock, galangal, lemongrass, kaffir lime leaves, scallions, and stevia to a boil in a large saucepan over medium heat. Reduce the heat to low and simmer for five minutes.

2. Stir through the coconut milk, vinegar, and tamari, then simmer for 10 minutes. Add the pepper and mushroom and simmer for another 5 minutes.

3. Remove from heat. Take out the lemongrass and lime leaves. Add the lime juice and zest, then puree in a food processor or blender until smooth. Serve with a grind of black pepper and garnish with cilantro.

Time to arm yourself with some more good advice: Here’s how to avoid burnout at work, and this 5-minute trick will calm your mind and gut in any situation.

GOOD FOOD| EMILY LAURENCE, JANUARY 19, 2017

10 Women With Tons Of Energy Reveal Exactly What They Eat All Day To Feel So Energized

 

 Food prep fresh vegetables

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It’s tempting to sip a sugary latte in the morning or grab a candy bar when you hit a midday slump. While those sweet treats can give you a quick boost, you’ll usually end up crashing—and craving even more sweets. But the right foods can keep you feeling energized all day, without all the ups and downs. These 10 women reveal what foods they reach for when they need to power through a long day. (Repeat after us: No more dieting. Ever. Instead, learn how to eat clean—with zero deprivation!—and watch the pounds drop off, with Your Metabolism Makeover.)

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 Mini-meals

“Two years ago, I was exhausted, overweight, and overwhelmed by life,” says Sarah Foster, a group fitness instructor in Poughkeepsie, NY. I was too tired to cook, so I ate a lot of takeout, and before long I’d feel drained again. To break the cycle, I started eating 5 or 6 small meals a day, which I prep in advance. Fueling my body properly increased my energy levels; it’s amazing how quickly my body responded.”

Favorite energy-boosting food: “My no-crash lunch is a turkey burger topped with guacamole, half a sweet potato, and a green salad on the side.”

MORE: 7 Reasons You’re Tired All The Time

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Eliza Whetzel, RD, a nutritionist at Middleberg Nutrition in New York City, noticed a dramatic improvement in her energy level after she started including more healthy fats in her diet—like avocados, walnuts, hummus, or coconut oil. “Adding fat has made all the difference,” she says.

Favorite energy-boosting food: Salad with chicken, quinoa, olives, avocado, and olive oil vinaigrette.

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Making smoothies for breakfast every morning “has been life-changing,” says Nancy Knutson, director of marketing for the American Birkebeiner Ski Foundation. “Thanks to that simple adjustment, I have more energy than I’ve ever experienced. Take my coffee—just leave me my smoothie.”

Favorite energy-boosting food: A smoothie made with frozen or fresh fruit, a banana, Greek yogurt, whey protein powder, spinach, and fiber powder or flax seeds. (We like NorCal Organic whey protein powder.)

MORE: 20 Super-Healthy Smoothie Recipes

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“The single thing that’s helped me most with maintaining energy throughout the day is water—lots of water,” says Lyssa Menard, a clinical health psychologist in Chicago. “Proper hydration is so critical to energy maintenance, but I wasn’t taking it as seriously as [my diet].” Once she made a point of frequenting her office water cooler, she says, “My energy shot through the roof.”

Favorite energy-boosting food: A glass of water (duh!).

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In her 20s, Kerri Axelrod, a lifestyle coach and yoga instructor in Boston, battled chronic fatigue caused by an undiagnosed autoimmune disorder. “There were days I literally couldn’t get out of bed,” she says. “It wasn’t until I transformed the way I approached food—transitioning away from processed foods and removing gluten and dairy from my diet—that I was able to see a lasting change. When I nourished my body properly, I was able to regain energy.”

Favorite energy-boosting food: Energy bites made with almond butter, dates, chia seeds, gluten-free oats, and dairy-free dark chocolate. (Here’s another tasty way to whip up energy bites.)

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After moving out on her own for the first time, Liana Werner Gray, a natural-food chef based in New York City, fell into a junk-food rut. “I was always drained,” she says. “I would be up one minute and down the next because my body was using so much energy to digest all the processed foods and refined sugars.” She started satisfying her sweet tooth with natural sugars— like honey, dates, and fruits—and found it much easier to sustain her energy.

Favorite energy-boosting food: Acai bowls, made by blending acai with a frozen banana. “It’s basically a smoothie poured into a bowl, with fun toppings like fresh berries, gluten-free granola, and chia seeds,” she says. (Here are 9 more breakfast bowls you’ll love.)

Sardines8/10    Photosiber/Shutterstock.
Lyn Alden, a finance blogger based in Atlantic City, NJ, says switching to a low-carb, high-fat ketogenic diet dramatically improved her energy. “From the moment I wake up to the minute I go to sleep, I never feel hunger cravings or drops in energy,” she says. (Not everyone will respond to a ketogenic diet the same way; the extremely low-carb count leaves some people feeling zapped.)

Favorite energy-boosting food: Salad with leafy greens, sliced avocado, a can of sardines, lemon juice, and olive oil. “Sardines taste like tuna, but are one of the most nutrient-dense foods you can eat,” she says.

 

Homemade energy bars 9/10    Ekaterina Kondratova/Shutterstock.

“After finding out about how beneficial a vegetarian diet was for the planet, I decided to try it and discovered another bonus—I have so much more energy!” says Julie Hancher, co-founder and editor-in-chief of Green Philly Blog. “I don’t need as much coffee as I did before going before vegetarian.”

Favorite energy-boosting food: Energy-boosting bars made with quinoa, dates, almonds, peanut butter, and a pinch of melted cacao chips on top.

MORE: 4 Energy Bars You Can Make In Your Slow Cooker

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Egg whites
“I didn’t eat breakfast at all for years, because I’ve always enjoyed eating in the evening and wanted to ‘save my calories’ for night,” says Devin Alexander, a cookbook author and celebrity chef in Los Angeles. “Just eating a small breakfast changed both my metabolism and energy level. When I start my day with lean protein, I’m satisfied and feel better.”

Favorite energy-boosting food: “I eat egg whites in some form almost every morning—breakfast sandwich, omelet, scrambled, you name it,” she says.

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Cindy Santa Ana, an integrative nutrition health coach in the DC area, said her afternoon slumps subsided when she cut back on carbs and sugar. “I started eating meals high in protein, fiber, and fat to keep my blood sugar balanced,” she says. “That also helped me shed 50 pounds!”

Favorite energy-boosting food: “Power salads,” which she creates by mixing 2 cups of greens, a cup of raw veggies, a protein (like grilled chicken, tuna, or hard-boiled eggs), and a healthy fat (like shredded cheese, sliced almonds, olives, or sunflower seeds), topped with homemade dressing.

MORE: 7 Things That Happen When You Stop Eating Sugar

By  Kara Wahlgren    January 13, 2017

The hidden health hazards in workout supplements

Dr Simon Hendel | Jan 19 2017Finally – it’s sun’s out, guns out season.

But with more and more men striving for that perfectly shredded beach bod, many are resorting to supplements to achieve it. But while mates might not let you forget leg days, real friends remind to find out whether the supplements you’re using are actually safe.

The industry is completely unregulated

Sports and exercise physician, Dr Krishant Naidu has had patients ask him for everything from caffeine to human growth hormone and anabolic steroids as they strive to get bigger.

You may think over-the-counter supplements are far less dangerous than anabolic steroids, but Dr Naidu says the real problem is the total lack of industry regulation. To put it simply, the powder you mix for a pre-workout boost or an after-workout bulk-up isn’t necessarily what it says it is.

“Unlike pharmaceuticals, there’s no requirement for manufacturers to prove the safety of the supplements they sell,” he says. “Or even guarantee what’s in them.”

The great supplement heist

International manufacturers can have components mixed together in some chemical factory offshore and then send this to another factory for branding as an appealing wild-berry-flavoured workout product. And if you order these online they won’t go through any testing in Australia before you consume them.

On the other hand, supplements made in Australia are subject to “batch-testing” which means the risk of contamination is low and they’re likely to contain what they claim – making Australian products much safer to use, says Dr Naidu.

So if you are keen on taking some kind of supplement, either pre- or post-workout, at the very least go Australian made.

Even ones that work may cause health problems

Creatine is marketed to improve performance and there’s some evidence supporting its effectiveness. Although Dr Naidu stresses the research looking at creatine is limited.

And its use can cause serious kidney damage even in people with healthy kidneys – especially if you’re dehydrated.

Supplements containing protein and carbohydrate are commonly marketed to gym-goers to increase their energy and improve recovery.

Dr Naidu says there’s good quality evidence that taking carbohydrates and protein together, in the first 30 minutes after a workout, will provide the best conditions for muscle gain.

But, he says, there isn’t any compelling evidence that carbohydrates and protein from supplements are any more effective than from a good diet.

Secret stimulants

Still other supplements that claim to help “shredding” often contain stimulants not listed in the ingredients to aid weight loss, says Dr Naidu. And these are usually derivatives of the drug ephedrine that can place the heart under considerable stress – even if they do work to drive weight loss and improve muscle definition.

A dangerous addiction

Former gym devotee, Mina, 35, who doesn’t want his surname published, knows first hand the risks of using supplements.

His fitness motivation morphed from being healthy and fit to being driven by image, one where bigger was better.

Mina was using so many stimulant-based supplements that he needed ever-increasing doses for the same effect. He recalls regularly having to pull over on the way to the gym after taking pre-workout “supps” because he had tremors and heart palpitations.

“The older formulations were incredibly dangerous,” he says.

Focus on the real issues

Mina’s use of supplements and other aids was also a money pit. At his peak, he says he was spending more than $600 a fortnight – not including gym memberships.

He’s now completely off it all and says “not a single minute” was worth it.

Dr Naidu’s message to anyone considering adding in supplements as a boost to reach their end goal is simple: focus on your health, not your looks.

 

Here’s What To Eat After Every Type Of Workout

We’ve all been there. You workout hard and, for one reason or another, you don’t eat quickly enough afterwards. You start to feel shaky, hangry, jittery and maybe even anxious.

Eating properly after exercise is important not only to replenish the energy you’ve just burned, but also to make sure you get the most out of your workout — so you can see the results you want.

“Post workout nutrition provides fuel and nutrients for the body and helps prevent blood sugar lows and fatigue,” nutritionist Fiona Tuck told The Huffington Post Australia. “The body needs nutrients to help with muscle recovery and cellular repair.”

Nutritionist and celebrity chef Zoe Bingley-Pullin agrees.

“Looking after yourself doesn’t stop at exercise — taking care of nutrition is critical,” Bingley-Pullin said. “Proper refuelling will also allow you to have more energy for your next workout.”

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The harder your workout, the higher your post-nutrition needs.

According to Alexandra Parker and Anna Debenham, accredited practising dietitians from The Biting Truth, whether you’re an amateur or a professional athlete, what you eat pre- and post-exercise is crucial.

“Following a workout, what you eat is vital in helping you reach your training and health goals and in ensuring you make the most of your workout,” Debenham said.

“Every time you exercise, carbohydrate stores (in the form of glycogen) are utilised for energy and your muscle protein is broken down. It’s therefore essential to replenish these stores afterwards.”

“Exercising actually makes your muscle tissues more sensitive to certain hormones and nutrients, which means that muscle is most responsive to nutrient intake during the first 30 to 90 minutes post-workout,” Parker added.

When it comes to post-workout recovery, always consider the three Rs:

Refuel

  • Refuel your glycogen (carbohydrate) stores to avoid muscle tissue breakdown and low energy.
  • Lack of glucose to fuel the brain can lead to decreased alertness and concentration, and low mood.
  • Aim for high quality carbohydrates sources (think wholegrain breads and cereals).

Repair

  • Repair damaged muscles with protein.
  • Consuming protein post-workout will provide amino acids for the building and repair of muscle tissue. This will help you to recover more quickly.
  • Aim for lean protein sources (think lean meats, eggs, nuts, legumes, tofu and reduced fat dairy).

Rehydrate

  • Rehydrate with fluids.
  • Most of us finish a workout at least a little dehydrated, and you will continue to lose fluids through sweating and breathing. It is essential that you replace these fluids immediately.
  • Your thirst is not the best gauge of hydration. The best way to tell how hydrated you are is to look at the colour of your urine. You want to aim for straw-coloured urine. The darker it is, the more dehydrated you are.

When we skip post-workout nutrition, the effects on the body are negative and quick to arise.

“While skipping a post-workout snack every now and then isn’t necessarily an enormous deal, it should never become a habit,” Parker told HuffPost Australia.

“If you don’t adequately replenish your stores following a workout, not only will you not make the most out of your workout, but your body can experience some other negative consequences.”

These include:

  • Hypoglycemia (low blood sugar levels), which can make you feel disoriented and could even cause you to pass out
  • Increased fatigue (during training and at work or school)
  • Reduced performance at your next training session or event
  • Suboptimal gains from the session just completed — you won’t make the most out of your workout
  • Increased muscle soreness.

“Blood sugar can drop which can lead us to feeling shaky, tired, lightheaded and even nauseated,” Tuck said. “The brain relies on a constant supply of glucose to stay mentally alert, so our attention can wane and we can feel low in energy and mood.”

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This feeling is the worst.

When it comes to actual post-workout food, Parker said the type and amount comes down to your fitness goals, more so than the exercise itself.

“Generally, the principles are very much the same, but exactly what your body needs most varies slightly depending on the type of exercise you’re doing and what your goals are,” Parker said.

“The time of day of your workout is also going to make a difference to the meal or snack you have (lunch food is very different to a snack).”

As a general rule, Parker recommends that all post-exercise foods should be rich in good quality carbohydrates to replenish muscle fuel stores, contain some lean protein to repair muscles, and include a source of fluid and electrolytes to re-hydrate effectively.

“The higher the energy intake (calories) depends on the intensity of the amount of physical exercise,” Tuck explained. “Long distance endurance training or weight training or body building would be different to a relaxing yoga class, for example.”

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Here’s what to eat after different types of workouts.

1. Cardio work (e.g. running, endurance, cycling)

“The key is replenishing carbohydrate stores, and adequate hydration is essential,” Debenham said. “For example, a slice of whole grain bread with peanut butter and banana. It’s full of potassium which soothes muscles, high quality carbs, protein and heart healthy fats.”

Other great post-cardio options include: a banana and a handful of nuts, or 1-2 slices of whole grain toast with either ricotta and fruit or cottage cheese and tomato.

“Athletes, such as endurance runners and cyclists, need specific sports nutrition to ensure adequate nutrients and calories are consumed for the body to be able to function at its optimum,” Tuck told HuffPost Australia.

“This may involve consuming nutrients and electrolytes during the actual exercise, as well as pre- and post-work out nutrition.”

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2. Pilates or barre

“Again, it depends on your goal. Is the goal to lose weight, or perhaps you’re looking to boost core strength and increase your muscle mass,” Debenham said.

“If your goal is weight loss, then a nutrient rich meal within 60 minutes of your workout is essential as the meal will be more efficiently digested. If your goal is to improve strength, then protein is key.”

Try two hard boiled eggs with multigrain toast, or a slice of roasted vegetable and feta frittata.

3. Yoga

“Your food choices post-yoga should aim to repair your tired muscles and replenish your energy stores,” Parker said. “To do this, your body needs a hit of protein, some low GI carbohydrates and fruits or vegetables.

“Try a small tub of Greek yoghurt with a couple of spoons of natural muesli containing nuts and fruit. Or for something savoury, a small can of tuna, four bean mix and some chopped veggies.”

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4. Resistance or strength training

If your goal is to gain muscle, then an energy-rich diet with adequate amounts of protein is just as important as your well-developed strength training program.

“While an increased intake is essential for muscle gain, your intake should be low in fat and high in nutrients,” Parker said.

“Following strength training, protein should be consumed. Consuming carbohydrates in conjunction with protein allows the protein to be used for muscle growth and repair.”

“Smoothies are a great option and easy if you’re on the run. Simply blitz the ingredients together in the blender the night before (berries, low fat yoghurt, oats).”

Tuck recommends trying a delicious chocolate smoothie with protein powder, banana, cacao and milk.

“This provides carbs, protein, fats and important minerals such as potassium and magnesium,” Tuck said.

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5. High intensity interval training (e.g. cross fit, HIIT)

After high intensity interval training, Debenham recommends opting for an egg omelette with sautéed onions and capsicum, plus a bowl of chopped fruit. Hint: include pineapple.

“Aside from their protein content, eggs are high in leucine which triggers muscle protein synthesis. The vitamin C in the capsicums is essential for maintaining healthy cartilage you need to cushion your bones,” Debenham said.

“Research suggests that bromelain (an enzyme in pineapple) may help to reduce exercise induced inflammation.”

Another delicious option is overnight oats — simply combine oats, yoghurt or milk of choice, mashed banana and chia seeds.

MARIA SHUMOVA VIA GETTY IMAGES

Other post-workout snack and meal ideas:

  • Peanut butter and banana in a whole grain wrap
  • Lean chicken and salad roll
  • Bowl of muesli with yogurt and berries
  • Fresh fruit salad with Greek yogurt
  • Tin of tuna with crackers, plus a banana
  • Lean meat, chicken or fish with potato and vegetables
  • Stir fry with lean meat
  • Toast with banana, reduced-fat ricotta and honey, plus an orange.

11/01/2017 1:38 PM AEDT | Updated 13/01/2017 8:41 AM AEDT|Juliette Steen|Associate Food Editor, HuffPost Australia