If recovery isn't a part of your workout plan, it should be!
Recovery is one of the most important aspects of exercising.
Recovering well allows you to feel better, get the most out of your exercise sessions, grow and condition your muscles and supports your immune function.
So, why is nutrition important for recovery?
Depending on the style of exercise, your body uses glycogen (stored glucose) to fuel your body and muscles. Once you finish exercising, your body works hard to replenish its glycogen levels to generate energy and repair your muscles. Eating nutrient-dense foods will help your body refuel quicker and allow the recovery process for your muscles to occur faster.
This will leave you feeling energized, help reduce muscle soreness and promote muscle growth.
What if I don't eat post-workout?
If you're not fuelling your body well after exercising, you will notice yourself feeling fatigued. Without replenishing your energy sources, your body has to work harder to convert energy from stored fat, followed by protein (essential in muscle repair), leaving you feeling flat and also slowing down your recovery and muscle conditioning process.
Not only will you feel fatigued, but your muscles may also feel sore and tired, often resulting in reduced performance in your next session.
When is the best time to eat post-workout?
Consuming a snack or meal that contains carbohydrates and protein within 30 minutes will significantly improve recovery as this is when your body is working the hardest to refuel and repair. If you can't eat within 30 minutes, try and eat within 90 minutes post-workout to ensure you are refuelling and rehydrating your body.
What should you be eating?
Protein is one of the fundamental building blocks that make up your muscles and is essential for recovery, which is why consuming it post-workout is so important. When you are exercising, the muscles tear slightly and then the body uses the amino acids from the protein you consume to repair the muscles, leaving them stronger.
Salmon is a great source of protein and it contains omega-3 fats which can help fight inflammation, help reduce sore muscles, and boost muscle growth!
Carbohydrates replenish your glycogen levels. However, the nature of your exercise will determine how much glycogen your body will use, thus how much carbohydrates you should consume. For example, endurance sports such as running will use more stored glycogen than weights training, resulting in the need for more carbohydrates post-workout.
Leafy greens are a great option as they decrease inflammation and boost your immune system, perfect for aiding recovery.
Along with these foods, make sure you are also consuming plenty of fluids to keep yourself hydrated and get a good sleep the night after a work out.