Fuel Your Recovery

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You’ve taken the first steps into a new exercise routine, or perhaps you’ve increased your intensity, duration or resistance, and want to make the most of your efforts, right? Focusing on your post-workout nutrition is a big component of progressing towards the changes you want to make.

Protein and Carbohydrates are the two macro nutrients to be sure to include after a workout. These guidelines aren’t required for casual walks, yard work, or anything that is leisure activity. Workout guidelines are for exercises that increase your heart rate for 30 minutes or more and/or include resistance training (weight lifting) that is challenging.

We know that protein is important for muscle recovery and repair, but did you know that carbohydrates play a large part as well? Your body’s glycogen stores are used as fuel during exercise, and some of the proteins in your muscles also get broken down, so consuming both post-workout, will help your muscles recover better.

Post-workout nutrition has three main goals:

  • Replenish energy stores (glycogen)

  • Repair muscle damage

  • Build muscle tissue

Protein intake, post-workout, should be between .14 grams and .23 grams per pound of body weight.*
Carbohydrate intake, post-workout, should be between .5 grams and .7 grams per pound of body weight*

*Based on intensity of exercise. Lower intensity resistance workouts would be on the lower side of the ranges. Endurance exercises (distance running) and high intensity/high resistance training would require closer to the high side of the ranges.


For example: A 150 pound female who completed light-medium resistance training would want at least 21 grams of protein (.14 grams x 150 lbs = 21 grams) and 75 grams of carbs ( .5 grams x 150 lbs = 75 grams).

Or, a 150 pound female completing an high intensity interval training + weight lifting may require up to 35 grams of protein (.23 x 150) and 105 grams of carbohydrates ( .7 x 150)


Post-workout meal timing is also important. The typical window is 45 minutes - 90 minutes after your workout to refuel. However, if you work out in a fasted state (no food for 8 + hours) you may want to aim closer to the 45 minutes for refuel.

Below are some great foods to include, to fuel your recovery:

Carbs:

  • Sweet potatoes

  • Chocolate milk

  • Quinoa

  • Fruits (pineapple, berries, banana, kiwi)

  • Rice cakes

  • Rice

  • Oatmeal

  • Potatoes

  • Pasta

  • Dark, leafy green vegetables

Protein:

  • Animal or plant-based protein powder

  • Eggs

  • Greek yogurt

  • Cottage cheese

  • Salmon

  • Chicken

  • Protein bar

  • Tuna

Let’s not forget healthy fats. They are part of a balanced diet and are okay to include in your post-workout meals, without making them the focus.

Fats:

  • Avocado

  • Nuts

  • Nut butters

  • Trail mix (dried fruits and nuts)