Refueling for Recovery: Post-Workout Eating Tips

Posted on October 18 2015

By Sarah Craven 

 

If you’ve ever experienced an injury or soreness after a workout, chances are that you appreciate the idea of recovery. And for good reason: it is crucially important to get the most out of your workouts. However, “recovery” from exercise doesn’t simply mean taking a day or two to rest (though scheduling rest days into your regimen is also very important!); it also includes rehydration and making the food choices that will best refuel your body. Properly supplying your body with the nutrients it needs to recover will help you get the most out of your next workout.

 

Is a post-workout snack right for me?

A special workout snack is probably unnecessary if you’re already planning to eat relatively soon after you finish exercising. How much to eat after a workout and the importance of doing so is also heavily dependent on both the type and duration of exercise you’re doing. If your workout of choice is something like yoga, walking, or a light jog, then refueling after a workout becomes much less important. Individuals participating in activities with longer duration (such as distance running) or those that demand maximal or near-maximal effort (sprints, intense resistance training, etc.) are most likely to benefit from a post-workout snack.

 

With that said, even more important for recovery than a snack, regardless of intensity or duration of exercise, is proper rehydration!

 

What should a workout snack look like?

Of course, not all post-workout snacks are created equal! In the case of recovery, carbs are your friend. This is because the body’s storage supply of carbohydrates, called glycogen, is the primary fuel used during exercise. Replenishing these stores adequately is essential to maximize your progress and avoid the development of hypoglycemia (resulting in symptoms such as dizziness, nausea, reduced concentration and mental alertness, and cold sweat, among others). As glycogen is rebuilt at much faster rates in the first couple of hours post-exercise, you should aim to consume a snack as soon as possible, preferably within an hour after working out. In addition, it is important to consider adding protein to your workout snack, as it is required for muscle building and maintenance.

 

Antioxidants can also play a role in recovery by scavenging the free radicals generated during exercise (particularly through high-intensity activities). Whole foods such as fruits and vegetables are the best sources of these powerful molecules, as they supply an abundance of vitamins and minerals that we can lose through exercise!

 

Alright, so with all the science-y stuff out of the way, where do we go from here? Focus on a well-balanced diet rich in fruits and vegetables. My go-to post-workout snacks include PB&J’s, pita chips and hummus, or a healthy smoothie. On the subject of smoothies, Jujubeet offers tons of great options, such as the Power Green, Athlete’s Fuel, and Cacao Ruby. So if you’re looking for a yummy smoothie packed with whole foods or you don’t have time to prepare a snack after your trip to the gym, stop in and see us!

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