Post Workout Recovery Nutrition

Sun Run Training is in full swing!  

This annual Vancouver event is in 9 short weeks and there’s a lot of training going on throughout the Lower Mainland!

It’s a good time to talk about Recovery Nutrition.  With each and every one of your training sessions – whether it be a run, conquering the Grouse Grind or even biking the sea wall – your bodies’ will shine a little brighter with some recovery nutrition.

The sports supplement industry is bombarding us with commercial recovery foods and fluids – I’m going to suggest that what you really need is REAL food!

Real food nutrition!

Sounds complicated – and sure enough, the science behind it can be – but simply follow the three “R’s” of recovery – refuel, rebuild and rehydrate, you are sure to have your bases covered. The 3 Rs are the cornerstones of post-workout and recovery nutrition and they are also essential for maximizing your training effect.

1. Refuel
Nutritional recovery starts by refuelling with glycogen or carbohydrates. Carbohydrates provide the body and brain with the fuel needed to recover and ultimately adapt to the training session.

2. Rebuild
The next step is rebuilding cells by focusing on the protein and amino acids required to help maximize muscle repair. Even a simple cardio session results in muscle breakdown, so protein is an essential component for all post-exercise nutrition.

You can add natural sources of protein—like nut butters or beans—to your smoothie.  Almond butter has 7 grams of protein in 2 tablespoons, and blends seamlessly into smoothies. Or you can try adding a ‘clean’ plant-based protein powder.  Depending on the type and intensity of exercise, and the total calories needed for recovery,  a 3:1 ratio of carbohydrates to protein is great.

3. Rehydrate
The final step is rehydration. Adequate fluids help regulate body temperature and blood pressure and transport energy and nutrients throughout the body.

That is why it is essential to allow the body to achieve balance and maintain the process of recovery by replenishing any fluids lost during activity.  Cramping and muscle fatigue can often keep enthusiasts from sticking to a workout plan. By rehydrating and replenishing sodium, they’ll be able to reduce these post-workout symptoms.

So now you’re thinking – what DO I eat!?

Ideally, your post-recovery food would have everything your body needs to replenish and repair after you’ve pushed it to its limits:  protein paired with a good simple carb to kickstart muscle growth & recovery, along with healthy fats and nutrients 

Post Workout Recovery Smoothie

  • 1/2 Avocado for protein and healthy fats
  • 1/4 cup Hemp Seeds for protein and fats
  • 1 teaspoon Chia Seeds for protein and omega 3s
  • 1/2 Banana for a quick energy boost, + potassium and magnesium to relax the muscles
  • 1 cup blueberries for antioxidants, Vitamin C
  • 1 Medjool date for a quick energy boost and minerals
  • 1 1/2 cups Coconut Water for hydration, antioxidants, potassium, and magnesium
  • 1 teaspoon Sunflower Seeds for protein, iron, magnesium, and healthy fats
  • 1/2 cup ice

Throw all the ingredients in a blender for a whirl. Enjoy!

Post Workout Recovery Smoothie

Spices for Nutrition?

You bet! Spices have been used throughout history for their nutritional and medicinal benefits – Food as Medicine! Add these favourites to your recovery smoothie and use in cooking for maximum nutritional benefits.

  • Cinnamon: Natural blood sugar stabilizer and perfect to combine with the sugar from the fruits in this smoothie.
  • Turmeric: A powerhouse of antioxidants, anti-inflammatory compounds, and other health benefits. Turmeric has been one of my favorite ‘medicinal’ spices of late! Read more about Turmeric in this blog post. Here’s a recipe that’s sure to please and is a perfect Recovery meal.
  • Cayenne: Just a little dash will do! It stimulates digestion and metabolism, boosts the immune system, prevents stomach ulcers, and fights inflammation.

Whether you’re a weekend warrior or a ‘sweat daily’ enthusiast, your cardiovascular system (heart, blood vessels and veins) play a crucial role in your performance. Keep your heart pumping strong with these top 5 nutrients to support cardiovascular health.

Vitamin C
Vitamin C plays a variety of roles in our health, but we know it for being an antioxidant that helps to neutralize the damaging effects of free radicals – reactive molecules that have the ability to harm our cells, tissues and DNA. Vitamin C has also been shown to help relax blood vessels, which helps to keep blood pressure healthy – a win for your heart.

Best foods for Vitamin C and antioxidants: Citrus fruits, parsley, peppers, pineapple, papaya, cauliflower, broccoli, berries (also high in antioxidants), moringa leaves.

Electrolytes: Sodium, Potassium, Calcium, Magnesium
Electrolytes are electrically charged minerals that help to maintain fluid balance, blood pH, heart, nerve and muscle function. Low levels of fluid intake lead to low blood volume. When your blood volume drops, your body compromises circulation and has poor nutrient exchange, hormone balance and toxin removal.

Best foods for Minerals: Fresh fruits and vegetables – especially bananas, potatoes and leafy greens, fresh pressed juices, nuts and seeds – especially sesame and chia seeds, sea vegetables, seaweed, and coconut water.

Making it simple to incorporate in your daily routine: Use coconut water as the liquid base in your post workout smoothie, and add a handful of fresh leafy greens, a frozen banana, and a tbsp of chia seeds. For main meals, add roasted fingerling or baby potatoes and shredded nori seaweed to a hearty salad.

Iron plays a crucial role in helping transport vital oxygen from our lungs to our tissues, via our blood (red blood cells specifically). When we don’t have enough red blood cells, our heart must pump harder and faster to compensate for a lack of oxygen.

Best foods for Iron: Raw cacao, pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, lentils, spinach, peas, potatoes, oatmeal, beets and beet greens, collard greens, swiss chard, curry leaves, amla berries, moringa leaves.

If your main goal is to build muscle, try to eat at least 30g of protein and 30-35g of carbs within about 15 minutes of your workout. If you’re just trying to stay in shape or shed a few pounds, you can take your time and eat within 45 minutes or an hour after your workout.

These post-workout, recovery nutrition tips will not only help your body’s recovery but will help to maximize your training benefits!

Best of luck to all of this year’s Sun Run enthusiasts!!