Recovery is an important aspect of many aspects of life. Gaining a moment of recovery from things like work, school, and responsibilities is widely accepted as a beneficial thing. A common misconception is that time to rest and recover is not applicable to working out and that you need to push through the pain to see results.
Many people feel like they need to push past rest and recovery and continue achieving and doing. While this can yield short-term gain, in the long run you are doing yourself a disservice. Your body is not capable to go non-stop and without rest, you are not giving your body an opportunity to heal, adapt, and increase muscle mass.
Even the most gentle workouts place strain on your muscles, bones, and heart. While stress is typically perceived as a negative, in this situation it is what triggers your body to adapt and grow new muscle. You can think of working out as a small nudge to your body telling it that it needs to improve itself because it wasn’t prepared for the exercise.
Over time your body adapts to your exercise and you will typically notice that soreness diminishes and that exercises come much easier as you are building strength, muscle, and endurance.
Workout recovery is the part of working out where your body gets to work on increasing muscle mass and strengthening bones. During this time it is critical to ensure the cells in your body have everything that they need to repair, proliferate, and function optimally.
For many people this comes in the form of a post-workout recovery drink. Many people work out at inopportune times to enjoy a full-fledged meal and a recovery drink is a great option to hold you over and give your body the nutrition it needs when it needs it. Below is a list of ingredients that you can utilize to create a recovery drink that packs a nutritional punch to your recovery.
Berries are a great source of naturally occurring sugar, antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals. Strawberries, blueberries, blackberries, raspberries, cranberries, elderberries, and acai berries are all a part of the berry family and are full of valuable nutrition.
The traditional post-workout drink of choice is of course a smoothie and berries are a quintessential component of any smoothie. Berries in your recovery drink make it palatable, but they also have a long list of health benefits. Some of the most notable for workout recovery are improvements in cardiovascular function and assistance with the management of blood sugar.
Berries also have naturally occurring sugar which is essential in a recovery drink. When you work out you deplete your body's sugar stores. Consuming naturally occurring sugar can provide your body an opportunity to begin rebuilding list glycogen as well as giving recovering cells an easy source of energy in the form of blood glucose.
Coconut water comes from the liquid that naturally occurs within coconuts. It is mostly made of water but contains many different vitamins and minerals that make it ideal for recovery. Specifically, the electrolytes present in coconut water are great at replenishing the body's hydration and electrolyte balance following a workout.
When you exercise your body heats up as a result of the chemical reactions occurring to keep up with the exercise. To cool your body down it releases water and in the process also excretes some amount of salt. As you workout you are constantly losing water and electrolytes to the environment and it becomes important to replenish both hydration and electrolyte balance. Coconut water is able to assist and is why it is a great addition to the best recovery drink.
Plant-based milk is a great choice in smoothies even if you are not the biggest fan of them in cereal or to drink. Because of the other ingredients in the drink, plant-based milk plays somewhat of a small role in the flavor profile. While it doesn’t add much in terms of flavor to a smoothie, it is full of nutrition that is ideal for recovery.
For a recovery drink, plant-based milk is ideal because they are relatively low in calories, can have more vitamins and minerals, and are easier to digest. Nearly 65% of the human population has an intolerance to dairy and by choosing plant-based milk in your drink you can ensure that you won’t have to worry about it.
Protein powder is a must for any recovery drink. During exercise, your body's muscles endure microscopic damages that need to be mended. Typically this is accomplished through the creation of new muscle cells and the repair of muscle fibers. Both of these processes require amino acids. The consumption of protein is the way in which the body obtains amino acids.
By adding a protein powder to your recovery concoction you are giving your body the building blocks it needs to grow and recover. When choosing a protein powder it is important to ensure it follows any dietary restrictions that you have. For example, if you are vegan a whey protein powder would not work and you would want to opt for something plant based like pea protein.
The addition of a protein powder is crucial in ensuring your muscles get the macromolecules they need to recover and build muscle.
Seeds and nuts
Seeds are another plant-based ingredient that you should add to your recovery drink. Seeds and nuts like flaxseed and walnuts contain omega-3 fatty acids which can help reduce inflammation, lower cholesterol, decrease chances of cardiovascular illness, and can assist in reducing soreness.
Omega-3 is among the best supplements for sports recovery and adding seeds and nuts to your recovery drink can give you a natural source.
While veggies in a drink may sound odd, it is actually fairly common as leafy greens like spinach, kale, and other leafy greens are commonly added to recovery smoothies. Leafy greens are a great addition to your recovery drink because they are full of nutrition.
As an example, spinach contains vitamin k, calcium, magnesium, iron, potassium, and nitrate. Vitamin K, calcium, and magnesium helps support bone health while iron, potassium, and nitrate can help your cardiovascular system.
The nutritional density of leafy greens and low impact on palatability make them a must for your recovery drink. By supporting your bone and cardiovascular health through vitamins and minerals, veggies can help your body recover by giving it the resources it needs to repair and grow.
Bananas are a great snack, but they also make a great addition to a recovery drink. When blended a banana acts as a thickening agent and can give your recovery drink a thick and creamy consistency.
In addition to helping with consistency, a banana is full of potassium which is an essential mineral in proper muscle function. With the repeat actions of a workout, local potassium levels can decrease as a result. Having a banana can help to replenish this essential mineral and get you on a road to recovery.
While it can be tempting to try and blend everything under the sun into an ultimate smoothie recovery drink, it may not be the most palatable. While it is good to get as much of your nutrition through natural and whole foods, sometimes it isn’t really feasible especially trying to shove all your nutrition into a single smoothie.
Supplements are a great way to supplement your diet and get certain molecules into your body that you would otherwise miss.
A great supplement to take for recovery is MitoQ. MitoQ is a specially formulated CoQ10 molecule that is able to selectively target the mitochondria where it is integrated into the membrane to assist in free radical control to support mitochondrial health.
Mitochondria are the organelle that carries out cellular respiration and the production of usable energy for the cell. During a workout recovery your cells need immense amounts of ATP to carry out repair and the synthesis of molecules. Ensuring your mitochondria are at the top of their game can help ensure that cells obtain the cellular energy they need to successfully recover.
Exercise and diet are important in maintaining a healthy life, but post workout nutrition is just as important. Having a post workout smoothie is a great way to conveniently get all the necessary nutrition you need to allow your body to recover with everything it could ever need.
Reviewed by: Kai Man Yuen/ BSc., PGDipSci., MSc.