What you eat post workout will make or break how you feel for the remainder of the day, not to mention how your muscles recover.
I know that when I started to eat after exercise (I used not to), I noticed I wasn’t always as sore, and that my energy was better afterwards. I’m sure this is no surprise to you, but there are tips and tricks for post workout fueling.
Note: This is for exercise that is high intensity for longer than 25 minutes, or endurance for longer than 45 minutes. Otherwise, it may not be hugely necessary to have an extra snack/meal over and above the norm.
The general rule of thumb is that this is one of the best times of day to eat your complex carbs. When you exercise, it is a stress on your body – a good stress though. Either way, stress raises your cortisol levels, a stress hormone. Carbohydrates after exercising work to reduce your these cortisol levels so that you have good energy moving forward, and sleep well during the night.
A good ratio is between 3:1 and 4:1 carbs to protein for what you’re eating. Here are some good carbohydrate ideas:
When we workout, the muscles break down, so adequate protein intake is required to rebuild them. Now, you certainly don’t need the ‘muscle milk’ type protein tubs that you see advertised on Men’s Health magazines (neither guys nor gals need that). What you can do though is add a bit of protein powder to a meal, it’s something like oatmeal or a fruit smoothie, or add a small amount of chicken or fish to your savoury complex carbs. This is also good for balancing out your blood sugar, especially if you’re having the fruit.
While you’re at it, add in some anti-inflammatory ingredients. I don’t want to confuse you, but here’s a quick inflammation 101:
Exercise typically works to lower chronic inflammation in the long term; however, exercise is actually acutely inflammatory in the short term. Sometimes, what is acute can become chronic, leading to issues. Overexercising or large amounts of exercise without enough recovery can be highly inflammatory.
A great example of an anti-inflammatory ingredient would be ginger. I love adding some ginger to a pineapple smoothie. Another option is turmeric, as the cir circumin in turmeric is anti-inflammatory.
Foods high in magnesium are hugely beneficial and even magnesium supplementation can work really well for those exercising a lot. Leafy greens, nuts and seeds are all great sources of magnesium, and if you’re looking to supplement, I would try Natural Calm before bed. It will have you sleeping like a baby.
Last, but certainly not least, please please please put down your Gatorade and Powerade. Unless you literally ran a 1/2 marathon, chances are you don’t need the extra sugar, and if you do, you can get it from natural sources like coconut water, dates or maple syrup.
An awesome electrolyte replenisher that is clean and full of beneficial ingredients is the Vega Sport Electrolyte Hydrator. It’s essentially just the electrolytes, along with stevia as a sweetener.