Great, so you’ve just nailed a killer workout. Your body thanks you! You’re drowning in your own sweat, your muscles are sore, and you can barely breathe. If you have any strength left, pat yourself on the back.
Why not? You’ve bypassed the tricks your mind played on you to prevent you from exercising, and you’re building a better body. Now that you’ve destroyed your procrastination, it’s time to face the day head on. But wait, your work is not done yet. You’ll probably feel depleted after a hard workout, and your energy levels drop. What is the best way to recharge your body’s energy levels?
Well, that’s a long answer, so you might want to sit down for this! Because there is an extensive list of “unconventional” foods to boost your energy after a workout. So keep scrolling down to find out some delicious, but exotic foods that will bring your energy back to its normal levels so you can make your day amazing!
Table of Contents
The Effects of Working Out on your Body
Okay, before we take the plunge, you need to understand what your body lost during your workout before you know what it needs.
Right, you know that your body loses a significant amount of water through sweating. That’s not all that you lose from your body though because your body also loses vital minerals while you’re pushing through your reps; therefore, you need something more than water, (but that doesn’t mean water isn’t necessary!).
During your exercise, your body uses your entire glucose store for energy. Glucose is your body’s source of energy, and carbs ensure that your body has enough of it. Even though many diets advises to minimise carb intake, we don’t recommend doing that post-workout.
In addition to glucose, you also lose a considerable amount of electrolytes during your workout. You probably heard the word ‘electrolyte’ thrown around in sport drink commercials. Possibly, your next question is: Why they are that important.
From Dr Axe, “Electrolytes are certain nutrients (or chemicals) present in your body that have many important functions — from regulating your heartbeat to allowing your muscles to contract so you can move. The major electrolytes found within the body include calcium, magnesium, potassium, sodium, phosphate and chloride.”
According to the National Center for Biotechnology Information, these are the major important electrolytes:
- Sodium (Na)
- Potassium (K)
- Chloride (Cl-)
Our bodies lose these electrolytes (sodium, potassium, magnesium, and chloride) during heavy sweating.
Before you are tempted to reach for the sugary sports drink, think about the healthy foods that can do a better job than sweet water even if it contains the energising electrolytes.
These foods are not your average post-work out nourishments. You most likely know that eating a banana is good for you after a workout. Therefore, we’ve gone the extra mile to find those foods that probably never crossed your mind as legitimate post-workout foods.
Strange Foods with Energy Boosting Qualities
According to the University of Illinois, potatoes and sweet potatoes fall under the starch and “starchy” vegetables group. Starchy vegetables are rich in carbohydrates; the serving will always depend on your body weight. However, it is wise to check the Nutrition Facts Label as one serving from this group has 15 grams of carbohydrates.
Remember: adding salt, butter, and gravy could easily turn this perfectly healthy food into a burden on your body. Stick to the most basic recipe you can find.
2. Pickled cucumber
As reported by the University of California’s Berkley Wellness, Julius Caesar, Queen Elizabeth I, Napoleon and Jefferson favourited pickles. According to the same source, pickles are not healthy in themselves, but they are a source of sodium and electrolytes. Therefore, they are made to be post-workout food. Consumed in small quantities, pickles, whether cucumber, tomato or onions get your energy levels to the top after a workout.
3. Frozen Produce
For some people, frozen food is just a polite way to spell “poison.”
However, I’m not talking about ready meals here.
I’m talking about nutritious and divine fruits and vegetables!
Instantly, you can imagine the benefits of fruits and vegetables for your energy levels, how can you capture their essence? In this particular case, frozen defeat fresh.
How come? Well, if you think about how the produce travels to your local shops you’ll begin to understand how long the journey is. During that time, it bleeds out most of the benefits due to exposure to the elements. However, once the produce is put in a frozen state immediately after being picked, it preserves most of those essential nutrients including electrolytes.
4. Dark Chocolate
What a pleasant surprise! Science confirmed the many nutritional benefits that chocolate has to offer.
Just like with other foods on this list, we don’t mean all kinds of chocolate. Most, if not all, chocolate bars you see on TV won’t make the cut. In short, you’re going to have to abandon milk chocolate without looking back because it’s all sugar in chocolate disguise.
What then? Go for the tasty, nutritious dark chocolate (70 percent cocoa, at a minimum). Cocoa is the key word here, as dark chocolate with high cocoa content has numerous health benefits including energy boosting. According to SELFNutritionData, one bar of dark chocolate, 70-85% cocoa solids contains:
- 31% Carbs
- 64% Fats
- 5% Protein
It is also an excellent source of Magnesium (230 mg), Iron (12.0 mg), Copper (1.8 mg) and Manganese (2.0).
If that chocolate bar which catches your eye at the checkout appeals to you, remember dark chocolate. Do your body a favour. The darker and less sugary the better!
Insects contain every amino acid you can imagine, 70 percent protein, good fats, and high in iron calcium, vitamin B12, and zinc.
Bugs is the new “superfood.” It’s maybe strange to us in Western cultures, but it is eaten all over the world, from to China to Cameroon.
Many bugs protein bars startups cropped up lately, which makes it a legitimate business. According to PercisionNutrition.com, “the average insect is around half protein by dry weight, with some insects (such as locusts) up to about 75% protein.”
Entomophagy, the eating of insects, is healthier and a better source of protein than chicken and beef. It’s eco-friendly and economical.
According to the FAO, there are thousands of edible insects, from spiders to scorpions and much more. If you can get past it, eating bugs after a workout can be a great energy boost.
The Junk Food Problem
You should listen to your body, but you shouldn’t always do what it says. It’s natural to crave some foods after working out, including so-called junk food.
If you want to eat pizza instead of a banana after a workout, it may have to do with the way you approach exercise.
Therefore, just as you hacked your brain past procrastination above and other obstacles to working out, you can hack it to approach exercising as a reward instead of punishment.
You are most likely to feel a need to “reward” yourself with junk food after working out If you view exercise as a choir. If you think it’s fun, only then you will stay on the track of health.
To make your workout more fun less grind, invite a friend to exercise with you, listen to music, or join a group. Bottom line: love the process, and don’t obsess over the results. Also, remember our strange foods next time you work out.
Founder of calisthenics-101.co.uk. Training calisthenics since 2012.
Currently working on: 30 second one-arm handstand, muscle-up 360, straddle planche.