What to Eat After a Workout for a Flat Stomach

What to Eat After a Workout for a Flat Stomach

If you want to get a flat stomach, working out is a definite step in the right direction. But exercise alone isn't going to transform your body. You also need to follow a disciplined diet to make sure you don't undo your progress from the gym. After exercise, your first opportunity to support -- or counteract -- your flat-stomach exercise plan is your post-workout meal. Making proper nutritional choices can help reinforce healthy habits. Consult your doctor for specific nutritional advice.

Calorie Considerations
If you're trying to flatten your stomach, every calorie counts. No matter what foods you eat, you have to be sure to consume fewer calories than you expend each day to lose weight. While you may have quite the appetite after your workout, try not to eat more calories than you burned during your exercise session. If you keep your post-workout meal small, you won't have to worry about cutting back so much later in the day. The size of your meal may vary based on your exercise selection; a 160-pound person burns 533 calories per hour of high-impact aerobics, but just 204 calories per hour of walking at a 2-mph pace.

Protein
Protein is an important nutrient for workout recovery. Protein helps repair tissues damaged by the intensity of exercise, and as research from the June 2009 issue of "The Physician and Sportsmedicine" notes, consumption of protein supports gains of lean muscle. Muscle burns more calories at rest than fat, so gaining muscle can help support your flat-stomach goals. Choosing low-fat protein sources can help keep calories in check. Consider tilapia, shrimp, low-fat cottage cheese or skinless chicken breast for your post-workout protein source.

Carbohydrates
Carbohydrates provide your body with energy so you can engage in intense workouts that will help you achieve a flat stomach. But that doesn't mean you don't need them after your workout. Nutrition and fitness researcher Lyle McDonald notes that carbohydrates also play a role in post-workout muscle recovery. Of course, consuming too many carbohydrates can push you over your calorie budget, so you may wish to stick to nutrient-packed, lower-calorie complex carbohydrate sources such as apples, bananas, yogurt, or small portions of whole-grain foods.

Fat
While dietary fat does not turn directly into body fat, it is calorie-dense and eating too much fatty food may make it difficult to achieve your goal of a flat stomach. However, while fat doesn't play a muscle-specific role like protein in post-workout meals, fat is a vital nutrient for overall health. According to a study from the December 2003 edition of the journal "Obesity Research," your body burns unsaturated fat more efficiently than saturated fat after workouts. Thus, if you must have fat sources with your post-workout meal, eat unsaturated fats such as nuts or avocados, rather than saturated fats such as butter.