Enhance Your Exercise Recovery

5 Nutritionist-Approved Tips

By Sue Van Raes

If you are like me, your days are full. With all you have going on in your world, I am sure you want every work out to count, and the recovery time in between workouts to be effective and supportive to your body.

Today, I have for you a few important tips and tricks to add into your post exercise regimen. These are tiny tweaks you can make to increase your lean body mass and reduce oxidative stress on your body post-exercise.

1.How to Hydrate:

Hydrating during and after your workouts is imperative, but getting enough water is not the only type of hydration to focus on. For optimal recovery, you may benefit from broad spectrum electrolytes.

Electrolytes are made up of minerals – including potassium, sodium, magnesium and calcium. Electrolytes exist throughout your body, in your blood and bodily fluids. 

When you exercise, sweat, and urinate you lose electrolytes. An electrolyte imbalance can be caused by dehydration, over exercising, illness or a poor diet. Hydrating your body with electrolytes creates happy muscles and blood chemistry, ensuring an easy and effective recovery.

There are many great sources of electrolytes: 

  • Electrolytes powders (be sure they are free of high glycemic sugars or artificial sweeteners)

  • Vegetable or bone broths

  • Coconut water

  • Green Juices (such as celery or cucumber)

If you notice muscle cramping, dizziness, fatigue or light-headedness after exercise try adding more electrolytes.

2. Elevate your Anti-inflammatory Eating:

Most of us associate exercise with health. While this is mostly true, exercise, when not handled with care, can wreak havoc on your cells, tissues, and skeletal system. When we exercise rigorously, we must tend to our recovery rigorously as well.

One effective way to boost a healthy post-exercise recovery is by eating an anti-inflammatory diet, and specifically refueling with anti-inflammatory super-foods.

Here are some of my favorite anti-inflammatory super-foods:

  • Omega-3 fatty acids (such as wild fish, chia seeds, flax seeds, or an omega 3 supplement)

  • Turmeric

  • Avocados

  • Dark chocolate

  • Berries

  • Nuts

Include these foods in your diet after you work out as often as you can to nourish your body – and recovery – effectively.

3. Power Up with High Quality Protein:

Exercise initiates the breakdown of glycogen and muscle proteins. After your workout, your body rebuilds its glycogen stores and repairs muscle proteins while also building new muscle. 

Eating an adequate amount of protein after your workout ensures that your body has ample amino acids to repair and rebuild muscle, as well as build new muscle for a stronger and leaner body.

A simple snack or protein shake of 20-40 grams of protein has been shown to increase the body’s ability to build muscle after a workout.

Here are some post workout proteins to try:

  • High quality (low sugar) protein shake

  • Green smoothies with collagen powder

  • Grass-fed, wild-caught or pasture-raised animal protein

  • Bone broth

  • Greek yogurt (low in sugar)

  • Pasture-raised eggs

  • Kefir (low in sugar)

  • Quinoa

  • Nuts and seeds

4. Add in Alkalizing Fruits and Veggies: 

Fruits and vegetables keep your body in an alkaline state and fuel you with nutrient dense vitamins and minerals. Fruits and vegetable affect your strength, stamina, and endurance. A low intake of fruits and vegetables can lead to fatigue, muscle damage, lack of muscle strength and lowered immune function.

Aim 6-9 cups (measured raw) of fruits and vegetables (go heavier on the vegetables) per day.

5. Restore and Rest:

Rest is integral to exercise recovery, and if you're not giving your muscles enough downtime, you could end up slowing down your progress.  

  • Take a rest day each week (do restorative stretching, YIN yoga, or a gentle walk)

  • Give your body as close to 24 hours between intense workouts to ensure your muscles have enough time to repair, rebuild and strengthen.

  • On your menstrual cycle?  Many women feel better backing off a little (volume and intensity) especially if you are feeling fatigued.

  • If your body tells you to rest, listen to it.

Like many things, more is not always better. Exercising smarter is something to consider, giving your body what he/she needs for optimal recovery. Try including these little tips and tricks into your exercise regimen and power up your body for the best results.

Join Sue for our first free nutrition talk in our Power Up Your Plate Series at Mecha on Wednesday, August 28th from 7-8pm.