Post Workout Recovery!

After a workout I feel great physically, but i’m always hungry! Honestly I don’t know of anyone who isn’t hungry after a workout! Even if you’re not hungry after an intense workout session you should still reach for some food! While you’re running, walking, dancing , or whatever it is you like to do to keep yourself in shape; your body is using up energy. Simply put, the energy you need to endure physical activity comes from glycogen stored in the muscles…where does glycogen come from? FOOD (which is broken down into glucose). If you’re anything like me, you’re ready to reach for just about ANYTHING after a workout. BUT…what you eat after you workout is important to recovery and even performance in the future. In the words of Nancy Clark, “Refueling is apart of your training program”. Whether you’re exercising as apart of a team sport or just for leisure the ultimate goal is to make sure your body is the best it can possibly be for the next workout or just to feel great everyday in general.

 

So What Should You Eat Post-Workout?

After a workout the muscles need protein (amino acids) to repair and build. They also need carbohydrate to restore depleted glycogen stores. The body benefits from a combination of these! You want to consume 3 times the amount of carbohydrate than protein. So a high protein shake post-workout wouldn’t be the best choice. Unless of course you’re trying to put on muscle, but thats a different post for a different day. For those just trying to maintain a healthy lifestyle  a fruit smoothie with a handful of almonds or even a fruit smoothie made with Greek yogurt would be your best bet!  Most of  the time after a run, I just want something cold and refreshing. So  a fruit smoothie is my go to…I love smoothies!! I’ll just grab my little single cup blender, put in a little ice with low-sugar juice or water, half a banana, some mixed berries, two scoops of Vi Shape and I’m good to go! Smoothies not your thing? Go for what works for you.
A post workout snack doesn’t have to be boring, choose whatever you like! If you love chocolate, like me! Chocolate milk is a great for refueling post workout as it contains a perfect balance of carbohydrates and protein! Also don’t be afraid to try new things or create recipes! Make your own trail mix, add a bunch of mix-ins to Greek yogurt! There are tons of ways to get creative with a post workout snack! Just remember to have a 3:1 ratio of carbohydrate to protein. Specific amounts to be consumed depend on your level of physical activity and individual body size. For carbohydrate, a target amount is 0.5 g  per pound of body weight; and 0.1 – 0.2 g of protein for every pound of body weight.

If snacks aren’t your thing and you want a real meal…go for that! Just keep in mind the ratio. Some good sources of carbohydrate post workout are pasta, brown rice,  sweet potatoes, corn, and don’t forget fruit! Some good protein sources include fish, lean meat, eggs, poultry, beans, and also soy! It’s really all about what you prefer. As for me, I love brown rice with salmon or tilapia. My brother on the other hand, after a game or workout, he’ll eat a giant bowl of pasta. At times i’m tempted to say that’s too much haha! But then I remember he is much bigger than I am and also spends hours a football practice. That being said, an individual who just goes to the gym for leisure will have different needs than  an  athlete who participates in daily physical activity. Along with being refueled your body needs to be rehydrated.

Hydration is already important without exercise. So with exercise, it is top priority! When you sweat you’re not only losing water but electrolytes too, and both of these need to be replaced.  So drink plenty of water! it’s needed for many metabolic processes throughout the body and your overall recovery as it helps with cramping and soreness. Potassium and Sodium are two electrolytes that are lost during sweating. Although it may seem convenient to reach for a sports drink, the electrolytes found in sports drinks can be found in food sources. Bananas, Yogurt, Mango and Papaya are good sources of potassium. (Make yourself up a tropical fruit smoothie!) Sodium can be found in any commercially prepared food products pasta sauces, cereals,breads, just about anything. There’s often more than needed in these foods, so don’t over consume, as too much sodium can cause high blood pressure. Definitely want to avoid that, after all, the overarching goal of nutrition and fitness is to be healthy and avoid such chronic conditions.

Along with proper refueling and hydration you might want to consider a few of these tips:

  • Go for foods that help boost Nitric Oxide levels. Nitric Oxide increases blood flow (this is particularly good post-workout when your muscles need the nutrients from blood). Some foods with NO include beets, kale, swiss chard, and spinach. 
  • Choose foods that are known for their anti-inflammatory properties. This can help with the muscle soreness. Blueberries, cherries, tomatoes, fatty fish, olive oil, and nuts.
  • Keep at it. Be consistent in working out and making healthy foods choices and you’ll start to see the benefits!

 

Make sure you’re refueling adequately! Happy Exercising! #FueledForIt

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