The Best: Foods for Post-workout Recovery
There’s nothing we love more than that satisfying (albeit sweaty) post-workout feeling, when your endorphin levels are running high and you have the satisfaction of knowing you’ve worked hard. We’re also pretty keen to refuel again as soon as possible, but it’s important to make sure that we are making the right choices to ensure our body is getting the best possible ingredients to restore energy levels as well as aid in recovery.
During a good workout, you can use up all your stored glycogen and break down muscle and red blood cells as well as sweat out up to 2l of water. It is super important for both recovery and overall health to ensure that all of these are restored and the best way to do this is through your meal choices. It’s also important to eat ideally within 30-45 minutes of finishing the workout, as after this point your body will start producing cortisol, which leads to muscle soreness, and let’s face it, nobody likes the post leg-day ache!
Ideally, a post workout meal should include a source of protein, carbs and healthy fat to ensure you have restored the energy used and to keep you fuller for longer, but certain foods also have key characteristics making them an ideal post workout choice!
Below we’ve put together a list of our choice of the best 5 foods to eat after your next sweaty gym sesh, how they will help your body and some handy tips on how these could be incorporated into a meal or snack:
Best for: Muscle Recovery
Why: It’s so important to help your muscles recover after a workout and the main way recommended to do this is through eating a portion of carbs. Not everybody fancies a large plate of pasta post workout though, but luckily the chili pepper can help too! Chili peppers contain vitamin B6, which helps in transporting oxygen to all the body’s tissues, including the muscles, which aids in their recovery.
How: Chili can help improve almost any dish! Try your hand at making your own curry paste from red chili, fresh ginger, lime juice, coconut aminos, and garlic whizzed together in a blender, or add a diced chilli to your guacamole for a spicy kick.
Best for: Avoiding Cramp
Why: The main reason the body tends to cramp after a workout is down to not having enough electrolytes such as sodium, potassium and calcium. Luckily, potassium can be found in abundance in coconut, which will help in preventing involuntary muscle contraction, meaning no more painful post workout cramps!
How: Coconut is a great, versatile product. Why not try coconut butter spread on half a banana for a quick snack or for a tasty meal try oven roasted aubergines stuffed with desiccated coconut pan fried with chili, ginger and lime.
Best for: soothing post workout soreness
Why: Ginger has been used in natural medicinal practice for many years due to it’s great anti-inflammatory properties. This makes it a great healer for those sore post-workout muscles and is longer lasting than any over the counter options, not to mention a much more natural option!
How: Ginger is the perfect addition to green juice, and gives it a real zing! Next time you’re whipping up your favourite green juice, throw in a chunk of ginger as well and see for yourself. Our favourite is made from a mix kale, cucumber, celery, pear, lemon and ginger.
Best for: soothing post workout soreness
Why: As with ginger, honey is a great healer. It possesses anti-inflammatory properties, which helps in soothing your sore muscles. It also contains the carbohydrates needed to help rebuild muscle fibers making it great post workout choice.
How: For a sweet treat, swirl a heaped tbsp of honey into a bowl of gluten free oats or quinoa porridge for a great recovery meal. Honey is also a great alternative sweetener to processed sugars so why not try adding it to your next batch of baking or swirled into a cup of tea.
Best for: Muscle recovery and relaxation
Why: So this one may not have as many properties as the others in this list, but definitely still enough to warrant being able to eat chocolate post-workout! The caffeine in cocoa helps with widening and relaxing blood vessels so that restorative oxygen-rich blood can more easily flow through your muscles. This helps relax the muscles, which in turn speeds up recovery.
How: For a healthier chocolate fix blend 1 banana, 1 cup almond milk, a handful of ice and 2 tbsp cocoa powder. For an extra health boost, use raw cacao instead of cocoa powder, and why not try adding in a tsp of maca or lucuma for a hint of caramel.