So you just finished a workout… now what? They say abs are made in the kitchen so apparently your fitness journey doesn’t end after you leave the gym. It can be complicated to figure out what is best for your body after a workout, so here are some “Do’s and Don’t’s” of post-workout recovery.
When to refuel
Eating properly right after a workout helps build strong muscle, which is the reason why most of us workout in the first place. After putting in all that hard work, your body is likely craving something to refuel. Eating 15-30 minutes after the workout is optimal, but if this isn’t realistic for you, try to eat within an hour.
What to eat
After putting all this time and effort into your body and health, make sure to refuel with something that is equally as good for you. Make sure you eat whole foods and stay away from all the processed stuff with tons of chemicals. It’s best to eat foods that are easily digested because they will increase the speed of nutrient absorption. Some examples of these types of foods are oatmeal, rice cake, sweet potatoes, whole grain bread, fruit, salmon, peanut butter, greek yogurt, avocados, and nuts. Some tasty combinations with these foods include a loaded oatmeal bowl with fruit and peanut butter, sweet potato toast with nut butter and sliced banana, avocado toast or avocado on rice cakes, and sweet potato with peanut butter.
Not everything has to be super fancy and gourmet. If you’re in a time crunch or just can’t wait, prep your post-workout meal before you go to the gym. Peanut butter and honey on a whole grain wrap is super tasty and portable. Grab a single serving size greek yogurt and throw in 0.5 cups of berries. Try 2 hard-boiled eggs with a slice of toast or whole wheat crackers. Check out this article for some more examples.
Hydration is key
Don’t forget to hydrate. Even if you didn't sweat, you still need to hydrate after a workout. You not only need to refuel your muscles but also the fluids in your body too. Drink lots of water or grab a Recoup. The 2 tsp of ginger aid in alleviating muscle soreness and the tree water is ultra-hydrating, perfect for after a sweat sesh. Sometimes it feels good to be a little sore after a workout just so you know that it was effective. But let me tell you, it is not fun to not be able to walk for a week after a workout. Going too hard and not taking proper care of your body can halt your progress and do more harm than good.
What to avoid
It can be tempting to reward yourself with an indulgent meal after a hard workout. Sure, do that sometimes, but avoid getting in a cycle of working out to eat/indulge. Enjoy and appreciate how you feel after a workout. The workout itself can become the reward if you focus on your increased strength, the sense of accomplishment and the endorphins running through you body. If you eat the right things your body needs, that feeling will keep going.
Avoid too much protein. Eating too much protein or not eating the right balance of protein and fiber can leave you constipated and sluggish. Research your workout and considering working with a nutritionist to find out what you really need. Not everybody needs a protein shake after a workout. You can get proper protein from a well-balanced diet and drinking a calorie-laden shake may actually be putting you in the wrong direction depending on which goals you have set.
Make it happen
The kitchen doesn’t have to be such a scary, daunting place as long as you do a little research about what’s helping and what’s harming you:)
Written By: Sara Tesser