“No pain, no gain.” “Sweat is fat crying.” “Pain is weakness leaving the body.” There are so many sayings encouraging you to push yourself to the point of pain when you work out. But there are no words of encouragement to tell you how to recover from a workout.

All this constant exertion to reach your goals might in fact run counter to your goals. When you don’t give your body the time and the conditions to recover, then it expends energy constantly trying to repair itself, rather than doing the work to help you reach your fitness goals—your muscles, for example, won’t bulk up if they keep trying to repair the tears from workouts that are too intense.

There are many things you can do to help your body recover: Take a 20-minute power nap; use a foam roller; stretch to keep muscles loose and limber; take a cold shower (or an ice bath) to reduce soreness; de-load or take an extended break from the gym. But one of the most effective methods for faster recovery is to take nutrition seriously.

Beginner’s Guide to Sports Nutrition

It’s said that abs are made in the kitchen, not in the gym. You can spend hours lifting weights every day, but if you don’t get your nutrition right, your hard work will go to waste. It all starts and ends with nutrition—literally. Below is your guide to nutrition and what you should be eating throughout the day.

Breakfast: Have a protein-rich breakfast. Protein helps you build muscle and may help you curb your cravings later in the day, helping ensure that you don’t lose your workout gains to unhealthy snacking. An omelet is a good way to start the day.

Pre-workout: What you eat before a workout varies depending on how much time you have to digest it and how intense your workout is going to be. Generally, you should eat a mix of carbs and protein, with a bit of fat if you’re eating hours before a workout. You can have something heavy (such as a salad and sandwich, or brown rice, a lean protein, and vegetables) if you’re eating three hours before a workout; a lighter meal (oatmeal topped with fruit and nuts) if it’s two hours before; and a snack (Greek yogurt) if it’s an hour before.   

Post-workout: You’re in for a treat: The best recovery drink after a workout is…chocolate milk! The non-fat or low-fat kind contains an excellent mix of carbs and protein, setting the stage for muscle recovery. Studies have shown that chocolate milk is an even better recovery drink than plain milk, water, or sports drinks.

You can follow that up with a protein shake (whey protein is the go-to supplement) or any protein-rich meal. Experts recommend aiming for 20g to 50g of protein. (A lettuce wrap is just one way of getting 20g of protein.) You’ll also need a good amount of carbs—eat 20 to 30% of your total carb intake for the day post-workout. While you’re at it, add something that’s high in potassium to replenish what you lost while you were sweating it out. There’s a reason athletes eat bananas to keep from getting leg cramps—the potassium helps prevent an electrolyte imbalance.

Pre-bedtime: You might be tempted to let loose and have a few drinks because you’ve “earned” it. But one study showed that alcohol doesn’t mix well with muscle damage. Instead of indulging in a few drinks, show your body some love by having a light snack with even more protein; food like trail mix or veggie sticks dipped in hummus can hit the spot and will help your body go into repair mode as you catch some zzz’s.

After getting your fill of protein and carbs, it’s time for you to go to bed and get at least seven hours of sleep—another important tip for how to recover from a workout. The combination of the right fuel and adequate rest will help you speed up recovery and reach your fitness goals more quickly.

  

Sources:

https://www.bodybuilding.com/

https://www.muscleandfitness.com/

https://greatist.com/

https://greatist.com/

 

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