Ensuring that you eat the right foods after training, or a competition is just as important if not more important than the foods you eat beforehand. Training depletes your muscle glycogen and to ensure a proper recovery it is important to make sure you replenish your stores within 20-24 hours post a strenuous training session or competition. If you want to ensure you are training and competing at your best, you need to make sure you body is getting the right fuel it needs to recover properly.
Sometimes, you may find it difficult to refuel and rehydrate straight after a session. For example, high intensity and strenuous exercise may result in a lack of appetite afterwards. Or perhaps you need to attend a post competition meeting with your coach and do not have enough time.
To combat this, taking some time throughout your week to prepare your recovery foods will make refuelling easier. Find what works for you and your schedule. If you are not hungry, just have a small snack within 30 minutes such as a banana or a sandwich with plenty of water and wait a few hours before having a carbohydrate and protein rich meal.
What foods should we be consuming for proper muscle recovery?
Recovery meals and snacks should be predominately carbohydrate and protein based. This is to reload muscles with glycogen and promote protein syntheses allowing your body to rebuild muscle tissue and replenish depleted energy stores and fluids. This means, that staying hydrated is just as important as the food we are consuming.
Here are our top picks for foods that help to promote muscle recovery:
Water. Hydration is key for recovery and fluids lost during exercise should be replaced. For children, water should be the primary choice, however where excessive fluid loss has occurred, there may be the need to rehydrate with a sports drink to also replace lost electrolytes.
Cucumbers. Cucumbers are 96% water, making them the perfect accompaniment as a recovery snack. Sprinkle some sea salt on them and have with some hummus dip on rice cakes or with cheese on a sandwich for the perfect carbohydrate and protein rich snack.
Eggs. Whilst many advocate not to eat the egg yolk due to its high cholesterol content. For muscle recovery, egg yolks are a source of various B vitamins and choline which together with the amino acids found in eggs, may help to delay muscle fatigue. Boiled eggs are a fantastic snack that can be prepared in advanced. Otherwise, a veggie omelette with you favourite meat (or meat alternative) or scrambled eggs on toast make for an excellent recovery meal.
Bananas. Bananas are high in potassium which will help to replenish your electrolyte stores and reduce muscle soreness. Everyone loves a banana smoothie, just make sure it is made using real bananas (rather than artificial flavouring), your favourite milk, ice and a small amount of honey.
Nuts & Seeds. Nuts & seeds contain omega 3 fatty acids which fight inflammation in the body and protein which will help with muscle growth. A peanut butter and honey sandwich with a banana are easy to prepare and can be eaten either pre or post exercise. If you suffer from a nut allergy, oily fish such as salmon make a great alternative to getting in your omega 3’s.
When choosing your post exercise recovery meal, as long as you are choosing wholefoods and eating at regular intervals you will be getting all the nutrients your body requires to recover. Avoid highly processed foods which offer very little to no nutrients and are high in fat. It is also important to stay adequately hydrated and replace lost fluids.
*Provided by Bio Island Nutritionists