So what are the few cardinal rules of post-exercise recovery and how do they help the body recuperate after leg day? Let's investigate.
There's no secret that great nutrition is an essential element that will positively impact your workout routine. However, while the pre-workout meal often gets lots of attention, it's your post-workout meal that actually does a lot of the hard work for you. After exercise, your body needs fuel, in the form of food to restore lost glycogen and aid in muscle recovery (1). A meal or a snack that is rich in complex carbohydrates and protein should be enjoyed within 2 hours of your exercise session (1) for max benefits. Without a balanced post-workout meal, your muscle fibres and your metabolism are not able to recover and much of that sweat and energy will go to waste.
So, what to eat? Glad you asked! Opt for foods that are easy to digest and not too heavy; consider things like peanut butter wholegrain sandwiches, greek yoghurt, protein smoothies, or lean meats. If your next main meal is more than 2 hours after your exercise or you can't quite stomach a full feed, consider this as a treat to help your muscles recover.
Drinking water is the best way to recover lost fluids after a workout. Aim for 2 to 3 cups of water for every 20 minutes of exercise (1). For workouts that extend for more than 60 minutes, like a long training run or bike ride, it’s recommended to include hydrating drinks like coconut water that are rich in electrolytes and can give you that additional boost, in carbohydrates to keep you going (1).
So the hard work is done! You've been pulling and pushing those muscles, and you're feeling fatigued - but don't stop now. Stretching is one of the most critical ways to support your recovery and ensure you stay injury-free.
It might sound like it’s still part of the exercise routine, but the difference is that it helps transition your body from the stress of exercise to a relaxed state with a slower heart rate while lowering your blood pressure (2). Doing gentle stretches also improves flexibility, decreases the risk of injury, and improves the range of motion for joints (3).
Nutrients are needed for the body to function optimally and recover before and after exercising but sometimes we can't get everything we need from that one protein bar. If you're keen to elevate your workouts and improve your results - here are our top picks for supplements to help you get there!
Acetyl L-carnitine supports post-exercise recovery and helps alleviate muscle injury. This amino acid increases blood flow and supply of oxygen to the muscle, and in turn, reduces fatigue (8).
We need magnesium for 300 processes in the body a few of which are essential for muscle relaxation and recovery. But did you know that Magnesium levels can be depleted through heavy sweating from exercise, stress, and daily life? To ensure you get enough magnesium after a workout to support energy production assists sugar and carb metabolism and decrease muscle cramps consider supplementing with a high-quality bioavailable form of Magnesium Citrate.
Asta-what-now?! Astaxanthin. This is a potent natural antioxidant and anti-inflammatory and is known for giving salmon their coral colour. It supports skin health, eye health and most importantly, athletic performance.
It is also important to note that while supplements can assist the body’s recovery post-exercise, food sources still provide the optimum amount of nutrients your body needs to thrive.
The easiest way to get your own post-exercise recovery vitamins
A solid post-exercise workout routine is sure to make exercise more effective along with proper diet and pre-workout preparations. Vitable vitamins offer quality supplements for your health needs through vitamin subscription. Create your own custom vitamins which are bundled and curated as daily vitamin packs for easier use. Purchase your own packs and get one of the best vitamin delivery services in Australia with Vitable.
*Always read the label. Follow the directions for use. If symptoms persist, talk to your health professional. Vitamin and/or mineral supplements should not replace a balanced diet.