There’s nothing like a good old-fashioned sweat session, especially one that burns a lot of calories. Whether you ride a bike, go for a run, take a Zumba class, shadowbox, or engage in a high-intensity interval workout, it is necessary to fuel the body with nutritious foods to accelerate recovery time.
Many athletes and exercise enthusiasts make the mistake of not eating after they workout. Some don’t know what to eat, and others just eat to replenish calories that they burned. It’s easy to wolf down a sugar-laden, high-carb meal, but that does more harm than good. The quality of your post-workout fuel is of the utmost importance, especially if your goal is to lose weight.
Respect The Fuel Window
After you complete your workout, aim to consume food within 15-60 minutes. Your muscles are ready to receive fuel and begin repairing themselves before your next workout. To accelerate recovery, eat or drink your food within the first 30 minutes after completing your workout.
Get Out Of An Acidic State
When you exercise, the body produces acids, and it is your job to neutralize those acids with post-workout fuel. Failure to neutralize the acid forces the body to do it by using calcium from bones and nitrogen from muscles. Leafy greens, sprouted vegetables, and certain fruits help to alkalize the body. Try to avoid processed, animal-based protein powders because they are acid forming. Minimally processed plant-based protein powders are better options.
Replace Los Electrolytes
You lose electrolytes when you sweat, but you need to replenish them as soon as possible. Electrolytes are energy conductors that transmit electrical impulses throughout the body. Fruits, coconut water, dulse flakes, and sea salt all contain electrolytes.
5 Post-Workout Foods
These little antioxidant-rich superfoods are packed with fiber, vitamins, and protein. Since exercise causes mild oxidative stress, it is necessary to include antioxidant-rich foods in your post-workout meal. Blueberries help to accelerate muscle recovery time and they can be incorporated into many snacks or meals. Pair them with chia pudding, overnight oats, or green smoothies.
Carbohydrates help to repair muscle fibers that break down during exercise, especially strength training. Sweet potatoes are great sources of complex carbohydrates, which don’t spike your blood sugar like refined carbs do. They are also rich in tryptophan, which is an amino acid that counteracts cortisol, a common stress hormone. Additionally, sweet potatoes are rich in potassium, which is an important electrolyte that is often depleted post-workout.
Similar to blueberries, leafy green vegetables like kale, spinach, arugula, chard, collards, and watercress are rich in antioxidants, fiber, vitamins, and minerals. Leafy greens are also rich in iron, chlorophyll, B vitamins, and magnesium. They provide the body with protein that is easily absorbed. So when you need a lot of nutrients post-workout, a green smoothie is never a bad choice.
Rich in protein and complex carbs, lentils are excellent post-workout foods. People typically have an easy time digesting them, which aids optimal nutrient absorption. Because lentils are rich in fiber, they are not good to eat before your workout. You can add lentils to a salad or combo them with your sweet potatoes.
Avocados are excellent sources of healthy fats, but that’s not why they are on this list. They contain potassium, which helps to regulate fluid balance and electrical activity of the heart, and they are rich in magnesium, which accelerates muscle recovery. Additionally, avocados contain vitamins B6, C, and K, all of which help to reduce inflammation that is caused by exercise-induced stress. Pair your avocado with a green smoothie, salad, or chia pudding.