Love working out? Just starting a new routine? Whatever the case, we’ve got a friendly reminder for you: Be sure to give your body the chance to recover directly after a workout.
As much as you may love getting active, there’s no denying that the physical exertion saps your body of energy, can damage muscle tissue, and puts stress on your body.
This is precisely why you need to give your body the chance to rebuild, replenish and repair.
Skipping this important part of your routine can lead to a number of unpleasant symptoms, many of which can do harm to your body, your mood, and future workouts.
“Skimping on recovery can lead to symptoms of overtraining like decreased performance, elevated blood pressure, poor sleep, decreased immune strength, and general irritability.” (Source: healthline)
Not to worry, recovery isn’t about hard work — it’s about letting your body relax post-workout.
You may have already heard that nutrition, hydration, and sleep are the foundation of post-workout recovery. And we couldn’t agree more. But we’ve also got some lesser-known ways to help the recovery process along — including eating foods we’ve been told are off-limits.
EAT, DRINK, & BE WARY
- Eat protein. Don’t save your protein intake for post-workout only. If you want to set your body up for recovery success, you should be getting your protein in all day long. Here’s why:
- High-protein breakfasts help muscles rebuild over the course of the day.
- Some protein before you exercise helps repair damaged muscles during your workout.
- Another bit of protein after a workout helps your body recover lost glycogen (i.e., stored glucose).
- A light bedtime snack that is high in — you guessed it — protein helps with overnight recovery.
- Drink water. Forego the high-sugar sports drinks, and stick with some ol’ fashioned H20 to prevent dehydration and help with recovery. Experts recommend drinking half your body weight (in ounces) within 30 minutes of working out, so do a bit of math and start chugging!
- Be wary of false claims. If you’ve been drinking a sugary sports drink to replenish lost electrolytes, don’t sweat it — if you aren’t a professional athlete, you likely aren’t losing enough for this to be a real concern. If you do have reason to be concerned, try coconut water instead. And chocolate milk? We go into more detail below, but let’s just say there’s no reason to add sugar to a perfectly good protein source.
The next time you hear about a health claim that sounds too good to be true, reach out to a Health Pro at League to learn a little more before falling for a fad.
SPEED UP RECOVERY WITH THESE 3 TRICKS
- Listen to calming music. Slow, soft music has been shown to lower your heart rate and helps your body turn that post-recovery food (mentioned above and below) into energy. So enjoy that protein-rich, post-workout snack while listening to your favourite easy listening playlist. Or simply give this song a listen.
- Try CBD oil in the evening. Not only does it help relax you before bed (which helps you get that much-needed post-recovery sleep!), a high-quality blend can help minimize pain and reduce inflammation. If you aren’t comfortable taking CBD oil, willow bark and tart cherry juice are other natural pain relievers and anti-inflammatories you might consider trying.
- Try a topical magnesium supplement. This mineral has been proven to help with muscle pain, tightness, and cramping — you know, all those aches and pains you experience after a workout. So grab yourself some topical magnesium and massage it into your sore muscles for double the pain relief! If you think you may be magnesium-deficient, you can also incorporate magnesium-rich foods into your diet to help speed up recovery even more.
CHOCOLATE MILK, CARBS & COFFEE: YES OR NO?
- Chocolate milk? No. Let us start by saying this: Don’t buy into the chocolate milk myth. While whole milk is a great way to get some protein in, adding chocolate to the mix is totally unnecessary, and places milk in the ‘sugary sports drink’ category. There is zero added benefit — except maybe the taste — so next time, stick with the white stuff.
- Carbs? Yes. Carbs — you know, that food we love to hate. We give this one a great, big thumbs up. So what do carbs do to help with recovery? They work hand in hand with protein to help your body replenish glycogen. Just be sure to eat your carbs with your proteins (3:1 ratio) within 30 minutes of working out for the most impact. If you want to know how many carbs you should be consuming, you can do the (somewhat complicated math) right here.
- Coffee? Yes. Ah, coffee — our guilty morning pleasure — is recommended post-workout to help minimize delayed-onset muscle pain. Who knew? But we aren’t going to argue with science.
If you’re looking for a recommended way to recover after a specific type of workout, check out this great Post-Workout Recovery Guide.