The food you eat following a workout can provide necessary nutrients to maximize the effects of your hard work and boost your immune system… or you can chose foods that totally negate your workout. Let’s focus on what your body requires following exercise and then get creative in the kitchen with foods for optimal recovery.
Nutrients for Optimal Recovery
Which nutrients do you need to promote optimal recovery from exercise? First, you must understand your nutrition goals and then identify the nutrients that accomplish those goals.
More: Recovery Nutrition Guidelines After Hard Exercise
These are your nutrition goals for exercise recovery and the nutrients necessary to achieve each goal:
- Rehydrate → Fluids, protein and electrolytes
- Promote muscle carbohydrate storage (glycogen) → Carbohydrate
- Support the immune system → Carbohydrate, protein and antioxidants
- Stimulate muscle growth and repair → Protein and omega 3 fatty acids
- Alleviate muscle soreness → Antioxidants, anti-inflammatory spices and omega-3 fatty acids
Maximize Your Metabolic Window
Following exercise, you have 15 to 60 minutes to maximize the effects of nutrition on exercise recovery. To fully replenish glycogen stores, eat carbohydrate-rich foods within 15 to 30 minutes of finishing your workout.
More: Are You Eating Enough Carbs?
To support muscle growth and repair, you have 60 minutes to eat a balanced meal. The bottom line: The clock is ticking for recovery. Eat soon after completing your workout to get the most out of your recovery meal.
Don’t Forget Fluids
Did you know that protein helps you rehydrate? Protein, along with sodium, is crucial for hydration. When you drink a tall glass of water with one of the meals below, you will provide all the necessary nutrients to rehydrate following your workout.
More: How to Create a Race-Day Hydration Plan