When people typically begin their journey through wellness and physical exercise they focus on what exercises to do and what to eat. While these are important to achieving your health and wellness goals, many people do not stress recovery and what the body needs during this critical time.
During a workout you are placing controlled stresses onto your body and the cells within you. Muscle cells experience micro-tears, bones are strained, the heart is pushed, and your metabolism is pushed to support energy demands.
While all of these may sound detrimental, they are all necessary to improve your wellness. During recovery your body responds to these stresses by building back better than before. Over time a consistent workout schedule may seem less arduous and that is because your body has adapted to the stresses and has made you stronger.
To allow your body to recover optimally, it is important to supply it with the vitamins, minerals, and nutrition it needs to rebuild and replenish after a workout. Specifically, the body needs to replenish glycogen stores for energy and rebuild muscle through amino acids. Having your recovery meal within an hour of your workout can give your body the time to digest and properly allocate the nutrition to where it is needed.
Below is a list of eight foods and supplements that can help your body during its recovery from a workout. By properly fueling your body's recovery you are ensuring you are getting the most growth and biological benefits from your workout.
When people think about spinach in relation to building muscle and exercise, you can’t help but think about Popeye and his iconic can of spinach. While spinach will not give you instantaneous muscles and increased strength, it is a good food to include in your recovery meal.
Spinach is full of different vitamins and minerals that can assist with recovery. Spinach contains vitamin k, calcium, and magnesium which help in the facilitation of health bones. Iron is also present which is an important component in blood to allow for efficient transfer of oxygen. Potassium and nitrate are also important nutrients in spinach that can improve your cardiovascular functioning.
These many nutrients found in spinach make it ideal to add in your post workout meal. Improving circulatory and bone health is ideal when your body is in a state of repair and recovery. Simply adding a side of spinach to your recovery meal can give your body a great boost in vitamins and minerals.
Berries are a great snack, but they can also make for a great recovery food. Berries include strawberries, blueberries, blackberries, raspberries, and cranberries. Berries are a great recovery food because they contain a high volume of water, fiber, carbohydrates, vitamins, and antioxidants. These all combine to help your body function properly and recover.
The unique nutritional composition of berries can help support your vision, immunity, skin, heart, and weight loss goals. These benefits in addition to their relatively high concentration of antioxidants makes them ideal for a post-workout food.
Berries are sweet and can easily be added to a smoothie. There is nothing quite like a cold refreshing smoothie after a workout and by adding berries, you are ensuring your body has the support it needs to recover.
Whey is a derivative of manufacturing cheese and dairy. Whey has skyrocketed in popularity in recent years due to its high concentration and availability of protein. In its powder form it makes it easy for busy people to get the protein they need after a workout for the proper repair of muscles.
One study found that the consumption of whey protein after a workout and the morning after helped maintain the ideal protein balance that is needed in muscle repair. Whey is an ideal recovery food if you find yourself in a pinch and need a quick meal. Blending whey into a smoothie is a great way to get a majority of your recovery nutrition in the convenience and portability of a cup.
Nuts are packed full of protein which makes them ideal for muscle recovery. Many sports bars have peanuts, almonds, and walnuts for a good reason. Nuts are a great natural source of plant-based protein and are easy to carry around. When you go to the gym you can easily carry a sports bar with nuts or even a bag of mixed nuts with you to consume following your workout.
While many people tend to gravitate towards lean chicken when on a mission to improve their health, salmon and fish can offer more for you and your recovery. Salmon has many nutrients in addition to providing just as much protein as chicken. Fish can provide you with a high amount of omega-3 and selenium which are important molecules in the healing process.
Fish is also a large component of the Mediterranean diet where it is typically the main source of animal protein as opposed to red meat and poultry. The Mediterranean diet has been associated with supporting healthy aging and when paired with MitoQ you are supercharging your body to run at its best. Optimal bodily functioning is an important aspect of recovery and adding fish to your diet can be just what it needs to do so.
Many people reserved the consumption of sweet potatoes for the holidays where sweet potato casserole is a staple dish. The truth is that sweet potatoes are great for more than just an occasional meal. Sweet potatoes are a great food to add to your recovery food tool belt.
Sweet potatoes are a great source of carbohydrates, fiber, and vitamins and minerals. Carbohydrates are a necessary component to a recovery meal due to the glycogen lost during exercise. Glycogen stores are the body's way of saving reserve glucose for energy.
When you work out there is only a limited amount of glucose in the bloodstream that gets used up quickly. Once blood glucose levels begin to drop, the body begins breaking down glycogen stores which reintroduce glucose into the bloodstream.
Including sweet potatoes in your post-workout meal is ideal to assist your body in replenishing glycogen stores as well as helping to fuel cellular processes involved in recovery. Within each cell there is a structure known as the mitochondria that utilizes carbohydrates to produce the usable form of Adenosine Triphosphate (ATP).
Sweet potatoes are a great source of carbohydrates because they have carbohydrates in addition to antioxidants, calcium, iron, potassium, and fiber.
Green tea is a tea that is derived from the camellia sinensis plant. It can contain many beneficial molecules, nutrients, and vitamins. Studies suggest that the consumption of green tea could have beneficial effects of cardiovascular risk factors.
In addition to the nutritional components offered by the camellia sinensis plant, green tea is a great way to get hydrated. Hydration is a key component in recovery because you tend to lose quite a lot of water through working out and replenishing water loss is important. Water is known as the universal solvent and it is a key player in the transport of molecules throughout the body. Staying hydrated aids in the recovery process because it assists with the deliverance of essential nutrients to cells that need to proliferate, grow, and repair. Green tea is a great way to get that much needed hydration while also getting beneficial molecules to your health.
While gaining your necessary nutrition through food is ideal, it isn’t always ideal or realistic. Many people only have a limited amount of free time in the day and planning meals to get your daily value of everything your body needs can take up a ton of time.
Amongst the best supplements for sports recovery is MitoQ. MitoQ is a specially formulated form of CoQ10 that helps support the powerhouse of your cells, the mitochondria. During recovery your cells still require quite a bit of energy. Building, dividing, and repairing all take energy and resources for your cells to accomplish. Bolstering your mitochondria through taking MitoQ is a way that you can ensure that your cells are receiving the energy demands that they need to properly recover.
Working out and eating healthy are undoubtedly beneficial to your wellbeing. The recovery period is the time that your body utilizes your nutrition to fuel positive physiological changes as a result of your workout.
Post-workout recovery nutrition is important to get the most out of your hard work put in the gym. Spinach, berries, whey, nuts, fish, sweet potatoes, green tea, and supplements are a list of a few foods that can help supercharge your recovery.
While these foods are great for recovery, you should consult a nutritionist to ensure that you are getting all of the necessary nutrition you need to function and perform your best. A nutritionist can take into account your food preferences and tailor a diet plan for you and your unique needs.
Reviewed by: Kai Man Yuen/ BSc., PGDipSci., MSc.