Once you’ve blasted through beginner’s teething problems, most regular exercisers start to notice the odd niggle, consistent exhaustion, and even injuries. Often, these problems arise from poor recovery plans and doing too much too soon.
Eating can be the key to success. Unfortunately, many people approach exercise all wrong and think that, if they half-starve themselves, they’ll reach their weight goals in time for summer. Not only is this mindset potentially dangerous, but it can be massively counter-productive. Your body needs fuel to recharge your muscles, develop, heal, and grow.
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Here are just some of the great snacks and meals that will help your recovery process, so you can keep hitting up the gym:
Low Fat Chocolate Milk
Caffeine widens and relaxes blood vessels, which helps pump oxygen-rich blood around your body. Chilled chocolate milk also helps to bring down the body’s temperature post-workout, which helps reduce inflammation. Packed full of protein and carbohydrates, chocolate milk replenishes tired muscles, but can also boast a healthy dose of calcium, sodium, and sugar. So much better than Gatorade…
Protein Power Shake
Due to the acid build-up in your body after a workout, it’s not uncommon to experience a loss of appetite after exercise. However, refuelling after your workout is important. This is the perfect time to make a nutritious cocktail of protein powder, milk, nut butters, and/or berries. For a great selection of recipes, check out: http://www.bodybuilding.com/fun/proteinshakes.htm.
Don’t think of carbs as “bad food” – they’re one of your closest allies. Carbs replenish energy stores (ask any long distance runner). The main thing to remember is to not overdo it (a cup/a cup and a half of pasta usually does the trick). Create a delicious pasta meal for dinner, but remember to add some veg and protein too.
We hope that you’re a fan of hot food. If you are, you can make the most of the wonderful B vitamins found in chillies. Vitamin B helps transport oxygen to all of the body’s tissues, so it makes for a great recovery food. Create a chilli full of protein-and-carb-heavy beans for the perfect recovery meal.
Turmeric And Ginger
For centuries, these substances were used as painkillers! Really, turmeric and ginger contain curcumin, which helps to reduce inflammation. The perfect opportunity to combine these two roots is in a delicious curry!
You probably know already that bananas are full of potassium. You’ll be glad to hear that potassium helps to prevent the muscle contraction that often occurs after a hard session in the gym – that tightness can be relieved by a banana or two for a post-workout snack or in a meal.
Manuka honey is packed with anti-inflammatory properties and carbs so, if you can afford it, it’s worth picking up some of this golden magic syrup. Because manuka is so packed with antioxidants, it also supports the immune systems, which means no days off the gym due to the sniffles. This food distributor has some great info on health and wellbeing, if you want a great steer on nutrition.
Other Factors To Consider…
- It’s really important to ensure that you rehydrate yourself properly after a workout – you will have sweated out a substantial amount of liquid.
- Rest – this is where many people fall down. Sleep really will make a huge difference. Not everyone can hit 8 hours, but aim to get as much rest as you possibly can – this is when your body makes its repairs.
- Whatever you do, avoid overtraining – all the nutritious food in the world won’t stop you getting an injury from biting off more than you can chew. Listen to your body. Give yourself rest days. Vary up your exercise. And increase your goals slowly.
- Consider sports massage. Massage really does help accelerate the recovery process.
- Experiment with contrast water therapy. After your workout, jump in the shower and blast your muscles with cold water. Then, change to warm. Then, to cold again. This treatment encourages the blood vessels in your body to expand and contract, which really helps your muscles recover.
What’s your favourite post workout meal/snack? Leave a comment below.
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