Exercise runs our bodies through trying demand which is why recovery is such an important aspect of exercising, it’s just as important as the activity of the workout itself. Recovery offers time for the damaged muscle fibres to fully replenish and therefore build, however, this process requires the right fuel which you can gain from the right diet routine and foods. Discover how to implement this right here.
Consuming food straight after exercise fuels your body with the nutrients which aid and optimise regeneration of muscle. This process is made up of the following steps:
- Refuelling of liver glycogen and muscle
- Replacement of electrolytes and fluid perspired during workout
- Synthesising proteins for repair and the formation of ‘new muscle’
- Support for the immune system in the adapting process and challenges brought forward by exercise
The optimal window for max effectiveness in protein consumption is in the 45-60 minutes directly after exercise, the window tends to close after 2 hours.
Start by consuming something simple straight after a workout such as a slice of fresh fruit to give you a boost of glucose as well as enhancing glycogen synthase activity (this helps replenish glycogen). A recovery drink is an excellent quick fix, using seaweed or vegetable ingredients helps assist replacing fluids and the electrolyte minerals lost to sweat.
Studies have proven that implementing 20 – 30g of protein and roughly 100 – 150g of “fast-releasing” carbohydrates in the first 2-hour window post-exercise drastically improves the many important processes involved in recovery including glycogen replenishment and muscle protein synthesis (which assists in turning around a quick recovery time). A split of roughly 4:1 (carbs:protein) are great quantities and ratios to keep to when approaching your post-exercise recovery food.
Discover optimal workout times in our post addressing the question 'what's the best time in the day to workout?'
Athletes generally aim to uptake 1.2-2.7g of protein per kilogramme of body weight. This is completely achievable for those on a plant-based diet, focus on consuming quality proteins such as fresh fruits, raw green vegetables, beans, shelled hempseeds, nuts, seeds (especially beans, sprouted seeds, and pulses), and wholegrains such as buckwheat, quinoa, barley, millet, oats and barley. These are all also superb fibres, minerals, antioxidants and essential fats.
Try making up some post-exercise shakes and smoothies with an abundance of protein seeds, fresh fruit and vegetables such as celery and cucumber. These liquidised meals are efficient for their speedy means of consumption and their high-quality nutrition straight after a workout. They’re also highly alkalizing, this helps balance and counteract the acidic build-up during exercise – aim to take these in the first 30 – 45 minutes of recovery.
Top foods for post-exercise recovery…
Sweet potato – Pumped full of fibre and nutrients
Quinoa – Otherwise known as the perfect carbohydrate, it’s rich in minerals, protein, and B vitamins for energy production
Watercress – Ideal as an accompaniment to soups, stir-fries or salad
Wild rice – A superb gluten-free carb which is also rich in minerals
Avocado – Everybody loves avocado and it’s not hard to see why, it contains an abundance of goodness in its soft flesh including vitamin E (great for the skin) and healthy fats. Throw these greenies into your salad or use it as a spread!
Squash or pumpkin – Regarded as a highly nutritious and easy-to-digest recovery food along with root vegetables and sweet potato. These also pack in a lot of antioxidants too!
Romaine lettuce – Incorporates a whole scope of minerals essential to energy metabolism, and also a great source of calcium.
Hempseeds – These are a rarity in the plant-world as it holds a huge amount of omega-3 fatty acids and protein. Widely consumed to aid exercise performance and recovery.
Apples – A powerful antioxidant, rich in vitamin C and fibre pectin helps apples reach its reputation as one of the best ‘performance foods’
Choose a great recovery drink based on its benefits but also on flavour, it’s important to choose a drink you’re able to stomach easily and enjoy – this will also help you rehydrate better. Sea vegetables are a great addition to your recovery drink due to their high volume of electrolyte minerals.