Step 3: Eat Smarter After Exercise

Getting rehydrated after your workout is so critical to setting you up to be healthy and to recover as quickly as possible. Getting hydrated will help to keep your blood volume at optimal levels which helps with circulation. Your brain also needs water to function properly, so if you’re dehydrated after your workout you’ll have trouble at school, or just having a conversation. Once you’re done your workout, drink some water. If you’ve had a really hard workout try coconut water or watermelon juice.

Carbohydrates are critical for replenishing muscle glycogen stores, and proteins are crucial for initiating muscle and other soft-tissues repair. The question is, how much of each should you consume? In part, the answer depends on the type of exercise you performed. If you're an endurance athlete such as a cyclist, triathlete, runner or swimmer, you exercise longer at sustained intensities. This type of work depletes your muscle glycogen, so replenishing it is a priority. Without enough glycogen you can’t work at high intensities, or you may run out of fuel in your next training session. Therefore, we recommend consuming a light snack with a ratio of 4 carbohydrates to 1 protein.

If you're doing strength training or if you're doing a sport that require greater demands on your muscle, microtears can produce in the muscle and soft tissues such as tendons or capillary beds. For any exercise that makes your muscles sore, protein synthesis is therefore crucial to repair these tissues. In this case, the ratios change, and a higher protein content is warranted. We recommend about 2:1 carbohydrates to proteins after a strength-type workout.

As little as 6 to 10 grams of protein accelerate protein synthesis in the muscles following exercise, but you can calculate your approximate protein requirement based on your body weight. In general, sedentary people need about 0.8 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight, and as an athlete you need about 1.6 to 1.8 grams per kilogram. Regular foods (e.g., chicken, beef, fish, beans and legumes, and eggs) can provide the necessary amino acids, and some protein powders are acceptable and convenient options.

Similarly, when choosing carbohydrate sources you should consider the nutrient content of that food. Having a slice of white processed bread is not going to provide as many of the vitamins and minerals that are necessary for your health as whole grain sprouted breads, a cup of cooked quinoa or brown rice. In the milling and refining processes, grains lose their germ layer which is rich in micronutrients. Choose whole grains and starchy vegetables and legumes over refined breads and pastas as much as possible when picking your high carbohydrate fuels. 

Today's POWER-UP: Post-exercise snack ideas

LISTED BELOW ARE SOME IDEAS FOR SNACKS TO EAT DURING THIS POST-WORKOUT WINDOW OF TIME.

> RECOVERY DRINK MIX (4:1 CARBS TO PROTEIN FOR ENDURANCE WORKOUTS, 2:1 FOR STRENGTH WORKOUTS)

> GREEK YOGURT + FRUIT/BERRIES + GRANOLA

> CHIA PUDDING: 3 TBSP CHIA SEEDS + 1 CUP COCONUT MILK + 2 TBSP RAW HONEY + 1/2 TSP CINNAMON (LET SIT OVERNIGHT)

> CHOCOLATE, VANILLA ALMOND OR BROWN RICE MILK + PROTEIN POWDER

> ORGANIC TRAIL MIX (UNSULPHURED DRIED FRUIT AND RAW NUTS/SEEDS)

> COTTAGE CHEESE

> ONE OR TWO HIGH-QUALITY SNACK BARS (ELEVATE ME, SIMPLY WHEY, GENUINE HEALTH FERMENTED VEGAN PROTEIN+, PURE FOOD ORGANIC VEGAN GREENS, OR VEGA SPORTS BARS)

> BROWN RICE CAKE(S) + JAM + NATURAL NUT BUTTER (E.G., ALMOND, CASHEW, PEANUT)

> AN EGG-SALAD SANDWICH (PREFERABLY ON WHOLEGRAIN BREAD)

> PROTEIN BALLS: 1 SCOOP PROTEIN POWDER + 2 TBSP ALMOND BUTTER + 4 TBSP ALMOND MILK + 2 TBSP MAPLE SYRUP (ROLL INTO BALLS AND FREEZE)

SOURCE: TRIONNE MOORE, BA RHN, WWW.TRIONNE.CA & DR. MELISSA PIERCELL, ND, NATUROPATHIC DOCTOR