While everyone knows that exercising is good for you, not everyone knows that the way you eat after your workout can make a difference on all the good work you’ve just put in. You need to be sure that you replenish your energy and help rejuvenate your muscles after you’ve worked so hard. After a hard workout your muscles are primed for nutrient uptake, so you want to give them what they need to be the best they can be.
Here are a few tips to help maximise your recovery after putting so much into your workout.
First, you want to re-hydrate. Optimally, you would want to stay hydrated before, during and after your workout. The more hydrated the body is the better everything works. The American College of Sports Medicine recommends drinking about 2 to 3 cups of water a few hours prior to your workout, ½ to 1 cup during your workout and, again, about 2 to 3 cups after your workout. Of course, everyone is different, so adjust to what feels best for you.
Second you want to make sure that you eat a healthy meal or snack afterwards. It’s best to eat within 30 minutes after your workout, but if that’s not possible between 30 minutes and 2 hours after your workout will help replenish your body with the glycogen you’ve just used and to give you the energy you need for the rest of the day. It’s best to eat both carbs and protein after your workout to both refuel your body and to help repair those muscles. This is also the best way to stimulate insulin secretion, which in turn allows the body to best utilise the food you eat.
You’ll want to stick with easily digestible foods. These include fruits like bananas, berries and applesauce, grilled white potatoes or sweet potatoes and maybe some white rice for carbs. And some proteins like turkey, chicken, salmon, eggs, and/or a quality protein supplement. While the carbs will give you some quick energy to recover after your workout, the proteins provide the amino acids necessary to repair the muscle damage done during your workout, helping rebuild muscle tissue. You’ll want to try for about a 3:1 ratio (carbs to protein).
You’ll want to stick with real foods as much as possible as these are your best possible choices. Making your own after workout smoothie is easy and cost effective. Blend some milk or yogurt, a banana and berries and maybe some leafy greens of your choice, and you’ll have a smoothie in no time. Freeze your bananas and berries and it’s almost a dessert. This will also contribute to the re-hydration you’re looking for after all that hard work.
Again, remember everybody is different, so how you eat and drink will need to be tailored to your specific needs. Listen to your body. If you’re still thirsty after drinking what is recommended, drink some more. If you still feel tired or drained after eating, eat a little more next time, but remember to stick with the healthy real foods. You can adjust your routine until you find what works best for you and your body type.