Look toned and feel strong with the top five post-workout recovery foods to reset your body
After intense training, your body naturally enters a catabolic (muscle breakdown) state. Eating protein five to 15 minutes after working out will facilitate protein synthesis – a protein isolate in liquid form will be transported and absorbed by muscles the quickest.
Want fat loss as well as muscle toning? Take a branched chain amino acid (BCAA) supplement, containing valine, leucine, and isoleucine, which will specifically assist in strength, endurance, and recovery, rather than a whole protein one.
Eggs are highly nutritious, containing protein, biotin, and vitamins A, E and D. While the whites contain the protein, the yolks contain the vitamins, so skip the egg white omelette, eat the whole egg and avoid food waste.
These are needed to replenish glycogen, which is depleted following heavy training. The best form is simple carbohydrates, like glucose and maltodextrin. If you are not hungry after exercising, a protein supplement with added carbohydrate is a good option.
Extreme muscle tightness, cramps or twitching following a workout may signal you are lacking in magnesium. This essential mineral is required for hundreds of metabolic reactions, but one of its main actions is muscle and nerve control. Magnesium is easily lost via sweating, stress, and caffeine intake. When choosing a supplement, look for one that also contains sodium and chloride electrolytes to help rehydrate the body.
Another way to keep those important magnesium levels up is to incorporate magnesium rich foods in your recovery diet. Greens, seeds and nuts top of list, if this is how you prefer to get your minerals. If you’d like a detailed rundown on the magnesium content of various common pantry items, you can read more here.
These are a great source of slow-burning carbohydrate and also very nourishing to the nervous system, making them a great post-workout choice.
You can add raw rolled oats to the blender when whizzing up your protein shake, or make them into porridge with a dollop of protein powder, some coconut oil (a great source of conjugated linoleic acid, for instant energy), nuts, seeds, and a sprinkle of cinnamon (to counter inflammation).
Another great way to eat lean with oats is to experiment with protein and energy balls, using oats as the base. Try throwing together some oats, peanut butter, chia seeds, honey and protein powder for a post work-out treat or a mid morning energy boost.
This provides the essential fats needed to lubricate joints and decrease inflammation – it is particularly important if you are doing exercise that impacts weight-bearing joints, like knees and ankles.
And if you choose to take your essential fats in the form of fish, rather than a supplement, you will also get a decent hit protein as well. It’s a win-win way to eat lean.
Recipe: Super smoothie
Green smoothies may not be revelatory but there is a reason for their popularity. Green smoothies still rank highly as a quick way to replenish cells, particularly after strenuous exercise. The magnesium found in dark green leafy vegetables will help your muscles recover and give you energy for the day.
Combine with coconut water for extra hydration, and add some freshly grated ginger to help counter any inflammation that may have occurred from over training.
1 handful kale
1 handful spinach
½ handful parsley
1 cup coconut water
juice of half a lemon
freshly grated ginger
2 scoops protein powder of choice
1 teaspoon honey, if needed
This supercharged smoothie is packed with magnesium, potassium, calcium, iron, folate, vitamin C, and B group vitamins.
If you would like some additional advice on diets to optimise your exercise regime, you can read more here.
Of course, recovery is about more than simply eating well. If you tend to feel tight or sore after a work-out, perhaps you should invest in a massage gun to soothe those hard-working muscles. If you’d like to know more about this increasingly popular piece of exercise equipment, take a look at our detailed guide.