Recovery is an important part of any workout or training cycle. Included in the process of recovering from a run or workout are proper nutrition, sleep, foam rolling or massage, stretching, compression, and low intensity activity. In particular, with the goal of maximizing the adaptations from a specific workout or preparing the body to be repaired and fresh enough to perform another training session, we should not overlook nutrition and hydration in the post run or workout, proper refueling will support our muscles and joints which will be happy to accept nutrients.
Goals of Recovery
Three main goals of recovery are to restore fluid and electrolyte balance, to replenish muscle and liver glycogen stores, and to stimulate protein synthesis. We can accomplish this by consuming carbohydrates, protein and fluids within thirty to sixty minutes of finishing our run or workout. Based on research data, athletes are encouraged to consume good glycogen to restore the muscles. It is particularly important for glycogen-depleting workouts, the training sessions that are longer than two hours or those with high intensity efforts, or if the day involves two or three workouts.
A carbohydrate to protein ratio of 3 or 4 to 1 has been demonstrated to provide the necessary requirements. As sodium helps transport carbohydrates out of the gut and into the bloodstream, including 500 to 700 mg of sodium in addition to approximately 500ml of water for each lost 0.5kg of water weight is also appropriate.
Using Whole Foods
Most whole foods contain all of the necessary nutrients to give the body what it requires. In some situations, when food is not available, a pre-packaged fluid source performs the dual role of hydrating and providing necessary nutrients. Many company brands have developed balanced recovery drinks in the form of powders or bars that meet recovery needs and are easy to carry in a pocket or mix with water for good fueling during our run, anytime we need it.
Recommended carbohydrate consumption post-workout is based on body weight. Current recommendations are for 1-1.2g carbohydrate per kilogram of body weight. Protein recommendations are based on an absolute amount, 10-25 grams.
Many athletes turn to the blender or Vitamix to whip up a well-balanced and tasty recovery drink. Fresh or frozen fruits and vegetables can be supplemented with whey protein powder, dairy or non-dairy milks, juices, water, yogurt, nut butters, or even coffee.
Wild blueberries, are high in a variety of antioxidant nutrients and research shows they improve antioxidant defences in body systems that need special protection from oxidative stress, including the cardiovascular system. The recipe below is a great option to consume the carbs and protein we need after a hard run or workout.
Wild Blueberry Recovery Smoothie
1 cup of wild blueberries (frozen)
1 cup of coconut milk
1 scoop of Vanilla Whey Protein
1. Add in all of the ingredients into a blender and blend until smooth. Enjoy!
This smoothie contains 260 calories, 42g carbohydrates, 9g protein, 6g fat, 27g sugar, 9g protein, 9g dietary fibre, 5g fat.
Another great smoothie full of nutrients for recovery is the Peppermint Green Monster smoothie. A scoop of organic whey protein powder is super healthy. Whey is an abundant source of Branched Chain Amino Acids which are used to stimulate protein synthesis. When leucine is ingested in high amounts, such as with whey protein supplementation, there is greater stimulation of protein synthesis, which may speed recovery and adaptation to stress (running or exercise). Whey has approximately three grams of leucine per serving and the threshold for optimal protein synthesis is three grams.
Peppermint Green Monster Smoothie
1 large frozen banana (peel before freezing)
1-1.25 cup non-dairy milk- almond, coconut, soy milk
Handful of fresh mint leaves, stems removed
1-2 handfuls spinach
1/8-1/4 tsp peppermint extract (optional)
1 scoop Whey Protein: vanilla or chocolate (optional)
1. Add in all of the ingredients into a blender and blend until smooth.
2. Adjust to taste and serve with a garnish of chopped dark chocolate and mint leaves. Enjoy!
Green smoothie contains approximately 260 calories, 7g fat, 57g carbohydrates, 24g protein, 200mg sodium and significant amounts of Vitamins A and C and Iron.
Vegan Athlete need to focus on getting carbohydrates and proteins without animal products. Many vegan athletes prefer brown rice and beans with guacamole for recovery from hard races or workouts. Rice, as part of a carbohydrate-rich post workout meal, ensures that our muscles are re-stocked with glycogen. Combined with beans, rice forms a complete protein, which means it includes all nine essential amino acids the body cannot produce on its own. And to add some nuts and fresh fruits will provide good protein and carbs, following a vegan diet.
We should include plenty of water to rehydrate. A recovery meal like this one will be best consumed a couple hours after exercise, so we should start with a rapid replenishment in the 30 minute window after the run or workout, and plan for a real meal of rice and beans later.
Here is a simple recipe for Vegan Athletes
Brown Rice and Beans with Avocado
1 cup dry brown rice (195g)
1 can drained and rinsed beans, or two cups cooked
1 onion chopped
1 clove garlic, minced
1 tsp vegetable oil
1. Cook the brown rice in a rice steamer or follow package directions. Heat up the oil in a large pan over medium-high heat and fry the onion for 5 minutes.
2. Add the garlic and fry for an additional 5 minutes. Stir in the beans and heat through.
3. Add salt and pepper to taste. Serve with rice. Enjoy!
4. Smash or cube one half an avocado and serve over the rice and beans.
This recipe contains 62g carbohydrate, 23g protein, and 429g sodium.
A good recommendation is finding some of our favourite foods and having access to them, which can make quick recovery fuel easy and enjoyable. We should experiment, and remember most often, having something is better than nothing, so we shouldn’t avoid eating to cut down calories and try to lose weight.
For good recovery fueling we need to just eat and drink!
Focus On Good Post-Training Nutrition For Great Recovery Post-Run or Workout, Feel Good, High Energy, Prevent Muscle Pain, And Enjoy Great Runs!