6 Best Foods for Muscle Recovery
I cannot stress enough the importance of refuelling your body properly post-workout to kickstart muscle regeneration. In fact, the goal of recovery nutrition extends beyond just repairing torn muscles to enable growth. The meal you eat immediately after exercise should also successfully rehydrate your body, provide nutrients to optimize your immune system, and boost your energy levels to prevent fatigue and mental exhaustion.
That’s a big deal, right? Absolutely it is! My clients know that they can move around meals in their diet plan freely, however their post-workout meal must always come within about an hour from when they finish training.
So, the obvious next question is what should you be eating to achieve all these goals? I got you. Here are my top six recommended post-workout foods to help you see amazing results from your efforts in the gym.
1. Protein, protein, protein!
This is a MUST! I actually would love to see you eating a good serving of protein with every meal and snack during the day, but it is absolutely essential after you train. Each day, I recommend consuming 1 gram of protein for every pound of body weight. And I suggest having at least a ¼ of the day’s requirement during this meal, meaning over 25 g of protein. An easy choice is a scoop of Kaizen Naturals (R) Isolate Protein, but you can also opt for a meal that includes lean meat proteins, such as chicken or tuna.
When it comes to what types of carbohydrates to eat post-workout, there are many options. The right carb to protein ratio to follow depends on your goals. A 3:1 (carb to protein) ratio is ideal for many exercisers, however if you are cutting for fat loss, you would want to reduce your carbs, perhaps even to match your protein intake. Fast-acting carbs, such as fruit or dairy, are stars here.
Not only is this watery summer treat delicious, but it’s also loaded with potassium, which will replenish the electrolytes you lost in sweat. This fruit also contains the amino acid l-citrulline, an ingredient found in many recovery drinks.
Do we need more reasons to love spinach? Well, I’m going to give you some anyway! Cooked spinach contains 5 grams of protein per cup along with key electrolytes needed for muscle recovery (potassium and magnesium).
5. Green tea
Relaxing with a hot cup of green tea provides your body with antioxidants and polyphenols and boosts your metabolism. You can actually burn more calories after training with this easy addition to your daily diet.
Okay, I’m throwing you a curve-ball with this last one. Eating nuts, like almonds, peanuts, or walnuts, is actually not ideal to ingest post-workout due to the high fat content. Is it, however, perfect to enjoy before bed. The healthy fats slow down the absorption of protein to provide your body with everything it needs for a long recovery as you rest.
Enjoy and happy training!
Coach Julie Germaine is an NFLA-certified fitness expert and prenatal trainer, and an NASM-certified nutrition specialist. She is also a fit mom to an active toddler and a 2x world-class fitness champion who has been featured in and contributed to numerous fitness, fashion, and lifestyle magazines and other media. She has loved helping men and women lose belly fat and maintain their incredible body transformations as a virtual coach since 2005.