How to help your body bounce back after exercise
The principles of recovery nutrition include providing energy to replace muscle glycogen stores, helping maximize muscle damage repair, and replenishing fluids and electrolytes lost during the workout.
Here, a brief overview of the three Rs of recovery: refuel, rebuild and rehydrate:
Refuel. Nutritional recovery starts by refueling with carbohydrates, which provide the body and brain with the fuel needed to recover and adapt to the training session. Research suggests that after a workout, the muscle cells’ ability to begin rebuilding and replenishment peaks at about 15 minutes, declining by as much as 40 percent within 60 minutes. That means if you immediately consume carbohydrates after a workout, you’ll see a 300 percent increase in muscle glycogen at two hours and a 135 percent increase at four hours.
[Also read: What to Eat Before Your Workout]
Rebuild. Step 2 is rebuilding cells by focusing on the protein and amino acids required to maximize muscle repair. Even a simple cardio session causes muscle breakdown, so protein is essential for all post-exercise nutrition. In one review, researchers found consuming 20 grams of protein can maximize muscle protein-synthesis rates during the first hours of recovery. But we often overestimate the amount of protein we need during the post-workout period. Depending on the type and intensity of exercise, and the total calories needed for recovery, a range of 0.3 to 0.5 grams per kilogram of bodyweight, or a 3:1 ratio of carbohydrates to protein, is recommended.
Rehydrate. The right amount of fluids help regulate your body temperature and blood pressure, while transporting energy and nutrients throughout your body. That’s why replenishing fluids lost during your workout is essential. Muscle fatigue and cramping can keep you from sticking to your workout plan. When you rehydrate and replenish sodium, you’ll be able to reduce these post-workout symptoms.
[Also read: Are You Drinking Enough Water During Your Workout?]