You've just emerged from a successful yoga class and you feel great! Now, your goal should be to retain your newfound sense of self-awareness and remain at ease as the day continues.
The food you consume after you depart the yoga studio can have a huge impact on your ability to achieve this goal.
Unsure as to what to eat or whether you should eat at all? This guide will ease your confusion regarding post-yoga nutrition.
Hydration is imperative before yoga and throughout the entirety of your class; a lack of hydration can lead to muscle cramping and numerous other forms of discomfort. Fortunately, if you have neglected your water bottle before and during yoga, you can make up for lost time after class.
The first thing you should do after yoga is finished is drink at least 12 ounces of water, or more if you've previously neglected hydration. Continue to sip water as you go about your day, taking care to replenish anything you've sweat out in yoga. This is particularly important if you have taken a hot yoga class, as the heavy sweating experienced in hot yoga can quickly lead to dehydration.
If water bores you and soft drinks seem more enticing, consider adding a few slices of fruit to your water for a subtle, yet delicious flavor.
Although water is a great source of hydration, it is by no means the only beverage you can drink after yoga Class. Many yoga enthusiasts prefer coconut water, as it effectively replenishes electrolytes lost during yoga class. Electrolyte water can serve the same purpose, as can a bottle of water with Emergen-C or some other supplement mixed in.
Sufficient protein intake is important throughout the day, but especially after yoga. Protein aids in muscle growth and repair, and is thus an essential part of your meal or snack after a rigorous hour on the yoga mat.
Sources of protein may vary considerably based on your preferred diet, as well as the time of day you take class. If you attend yoga early in the morning, crack open a few eggs and make yourself an omelet to fuel your day. Later in the day, chicken on your salad or salmon over rice may be preferable.
If you're vegetarian or vegan, feel free to whip up a tasty meal involving beans or tofu -- or grab a handful of nuts for a nutritious snack.
Carbohydrates have received a bad rap over the years, and while it's true that many types of carbohydrates are best avoided, some can do your body a world of good after you've spent an hour or more in the yoga studio. That being said, carbohydrate consumption after yoga should not be heavy.
Fruits and vegetables are essential, of course, and few things are as satisfying after yoga as a big bowl of salad. If you have a sweet tooth, fruit salad will hit the spot, especially if a handful of walnuts are tossed in.
Avoid Refined Sugar
No matter what you eat or don't eat after yoga, take care to avoid refined sugar. As enticing as a candy bar or donut may seem after working your butt off on the yoga mat, these tasty treats will undo the physical rejuvenation and mental clarity you've worked so hard to gain.
Sugar in and of itself is not bad, and in fact, is an important part of your post-yoga nutrition regimen. However, any sources of post-yoga sugar should be completely natural. If cravings are taking over and you're tempted to run to the closest gas station for an emergency candy bar, substitute it with a handful of blueberries or some apple slices with peanut butter.
Time of Day
As you prepare your ideal post-yoga snack or meal, it's important to keep the time of day in mind. A meal that replenishes after a morning yoga class may make it difficult to sleep if consumed after a late night vinyasa session. Although hydration and nourishment are vital every hour of the day, certain foods -- and amounts of food -- lend themselves better to certain periods of the day.
At night, it is best to keep food light, as a large meal will keep you up long after your final savasana has calmed you down. In the morning and near lunchtime, a heavier meal is acceptable, ideally with a good balance of carbohydrates, protein, and fruits or vegetables.
No matter the time of day, you should aim to eat within an hour of your yoga session's completion. The sooner you eat, the sooner you'll replenish nutrients and the less likely you'll be to give in to cravings.
Perhaps the greatest nutrition mistake yoga enthusiasts make is failing to plan their post-yoga meals and snacks ahead of time. It's best to simply assume you'll be hungry after yoga, so that you always have a nutritious meal ready to go. This will reduce your desire to stop at the convenience store on the way home or the vending machine once you've arrived at work.
If possible, prepare meals ahead of time so that you can simply reheat and serve after yoga. If you doubt your ability to make it home without getting off track, consider packing a nutritious snack in the car or in your gym bag.
The right food can aid your progress as a yogi and ensure that the blissful feeling you carry with you after yoga continues throughout the rest of the day. Plan carefully to replenish your body after yoga -- and to avoid the temptation to overindulge in refined foods that will erase your newly-achieved mental clarity and well being.