Fitness Friday – Nutrition for Optimal Recovery

FeedYourRecoveryWelcome to another Fitness Friday!

Today rather than share a fun workout with you I want to focus on a critical aspect of fitness training  and overall health — Recovery.  More specifically I want to address post workout nutrition and the role it plays in optimal recovery.

When we engage in intense physical activity, as you would during a BURST or HIIT workout for example, we cause a lot of micro tears in our muscles and stress on our tendons and ligaments.  This leads to inflammation and soreness as the body sets out to repair the damage.  As the body rebuilds itself we become stronger which is the ultimate goal of our workouts. Proper nutrition is crucial for this desired outcome.  Ignore your post workout nutrition and your workout could be causing more harm than good.

There are 4 processes to optimal recovery which I call these the 4 R’s of Recovery:

  • Replenish muscle and liver glycogen stores
  • Repair micro tears and other tissue damage
  • Restore lost fluids
  • Rebuild and support the immune system

Rather than get into a confusing technical discussion of each of these processes here’s a simple way to remember how to maximize your recovery:

Replenish with Carbohydrates

Repair with  Protein

Restore with Electrolytes

Rebuild with Antioxidants

Carbohydrates  are essential for replenishing glycogen stores. Many athletes enjoy eating a banana or a couple of dates right after a workout. Those provide the needed carbohydrates and have anti-inflammatory properties as well that help in minimizing inflammation, thus supporting the immune system. But carbohydrates are not enough.

High quality protein is needed for our muscles to repair the thousands of tiny micro tears we’ve inflicted on them.  I prefer a whey protein sourced from organic pastured raised cows, because it is naturally high in collagen, another essential nutrient for cell repair. If you are vegan and prefer a vegetable based protein make sure it has a complete amino acid profile and comes from organic top quality ingredients.

Though you should be drinking water throughout your workout you’ll want to be particularly mindful of your electrolytes lost while sweating.  Sodium is a key ingredient here but I’m not a big fan of sodium enhanced drinks like Gatorade.  I much prefer coconut water which is naturally rich in electrolytes.

You’ll find all the antioxidants, vitamins and minerals you need in fresh or frozen fruits and vegetables, particularly dark leafy greens, berries and produce with anti-inflammatory properties.  As aways I recommend you choose organic produce as much as possible. In essence your body is vulnerable during and after a work out so give it only the best!  Kefir or pickled veggies rich in probiotics are a wonderful addition to your post workout nutrition as well.

The ideal post workout meal will combine all the nutrients necessary to support these four processes at once. My go-to: A delicious protein shake!

In addition to what you put in your body after a workout you want to be mindful of when you do this.  According to research, our cells are the most receptive to the nutrients needed for repair within the first thirty minutes following our workout. Now I know that if you’ve pushed hard and feel a little nauseous food would be the last thing on your mind. That’s why I tend to prefer a smoothie over a small meal that combines all the nutrients I need, and that I can sip slowly while I rest.

I use coconut water and coconut milk as my base to benefit from the rich electrolytes content, add a clean whey protein and a handful of fruits and veggies that are known for their anti-inflammatory benefits and high in antioxidants.

This Pineapple Spinach Protein shake is one of my favorites!

5.0 from 1 reviews
Pineapple Spinach Protein Shake
 
A delicious and perfectly balanced post workout drink for optimal recovery
Author:
Recipe type: Smoothie
Ingredients
  • 1 cup fresh or frozen pineapple
  • ¼ cup organic blueberries
  • ½ banana
  • 1 to 2 generous handfuls organic baby spinach
  • 1 serving vanilla protein powder
  • 6 oz coconut water
  • 6 oz coconut milk
  • Ice -- Optional
Instructions
  1. Place all ingredients in a blender.
  2. Blend until smooth.
  3. Sit back and enjoy!

Remember that another key aspect of recovery is REST so make sure you get a good night sleep each and every night, especially on your workout days.

What are some of your favorite post workout meals?  Is recovery something you pay particular attention to?

 

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About Valerie 

Valerie Remy-Milora is the mother of 3 amazing girls, an author, public speaker, coach and founder of Scrumptious Moms. She is passionate about empowering moms to embrace self care and live a vibrant, joyful life with their loved ones. A health and fitness nut, she is an advocate for chemical-free living, real food and GMO labeling. She believes in the sanctity of life from conception to natural death.

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Comments

  1. Thanks for the tips, I’ve been looking for a few tips on ways to recover

  2. I love protein shakes! Do you think its possible to make the, ahead of time or will they get too hard when you try to drink and defrost?

    • That’s a good question Kait. I personally prefer to make them fresh but I don’t think you’d be compromising on the nutrition if you froze your shake in individual serving sizes, then pulled it out of the freezer a few hours before drinking it. I would give it a quick, fresh blend for a nice smooth texture.. You might get a little more of a ice cream shake feeling by doing this. I think I may give it a try 🙂

  3. I don’t really like shakes that much, but I know I’ve got to get better at getting proper nutrition after a workout. The Pineapple Spinach shake sounds really good though, so I might give it a try. I’m a creature of habit, so I know once I get a routine going for an after-workout drink or meal, I’ll enjoy sticking to it.

    • I hope you enjoy the pineapple spinach shake Tisha. I too am a creature of habit so I hear you. It took me a while to get used to shakes, not because I don’t enjoy them but because I love and crave the texture of food. I use to eat a couple of sunny side up eggs or a veggie omelet after my workouts but I find a shake a lot easier to digest and I can sip my shake slowly while I do other things 🙂

  4. This is my ultimate smoothie combo! I was never a fan of green or “monster” smoothies till I started adding pineapple. That was all I needed! I can even get my kids to drink them with pineapple added. Will have to give your recipe a try!

  5. Thank you! I’m starting my workouts tomorrow so this is useful to know! Will try!

  6. I love drinking protein shakes before or after workouts, but I never tried one with pineapple before, though. And, I LOVE pineapples. 🙂

  7. I’ve yet to find a coconut water I like by itself, but it is perfect for smoothies.

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