Many regular exercisers and athletes may ask the following questions:
What should I eat after a hard workout?
We see a lot of advertisements for commercial recovery foods making all sorts of suggestions as to why you should consume their products for optimal benefits. Although these ads do offer an element of truth, that does not mean that commercial recovery foods are more effective than regular foods for helping the body refuel its energy stores and building muscle.
Your recovery meals and snacks should include a foundation of carbohydrate rich breads, cereals, grains, fruits and vegetables, as well as a smaller amount of protein (10-20grams/recovery meal or snack)
What are some good Carb-Protein recovery foods?
-Fruit smoothie (greek yogurt, banana, berries)
– Cereal and milk
– Multigrain bagel and milk
– Pretzels/crackers and hummus
– Baked potato and cottage cheese
– Whole wheat pasta with meat and vegetable
DO NOT consume just protein, as in protein shake or bar after a workout. Protein will help fill you up and help to build and repair muscle; however protein does not refuel your muscles. Muscles need 3 or 4x more calories from carbohydrates than from protein. If you like the convenience of protein shakes, you should add some carbs to them, for example blend in a banana, fresh or frozen berries or graham crackers.
What should I drink?-Electrolytes
Electrolytes help enhance fluid retention and restore normal fluid balance in the body. After a hard workout many people reach for a sports drink thinking it is loaded with electrolytes (sodium and potassium) however, milk, chocolate milk, and orange juice are actually better sources of electrolytes than many sports drinks. Sports drinks are dilute and more beneficial for us during extended exercise rather than afterwards.
Sources: Recovering from Hard Exercise. Clark, Nancy. The American Academy of Health and Fitness-Issue22. Feb.22.2012.