Best Nutrition Habits for Workout Recovery
By Jake Boly
Recovery from a tough gym session should receive the same amount of attention as our hardest workouts. After all, training hard is awesome, but it will only go so far if no time and resources are spent on proper nutrition for muscle recovery.
Not giving this recovery practice enough attention can lead to burnout and daily fatigue, which can hinder long-term body-composition and fitness goals. If exercise were a set of home-improvement projects, recovery and nutrition would be the preparation and the tools that keep the projects moving forward. We have goals, but without these essentials, we’ll never accomplish them.
That’s why it’s imperative to build your own muscle-recovery formula. More than likely, your formula will look different from someone else’s, as your body will have different needs. The three ideas below will enhance your own muscle-recovery formula.
1. Fuel Your Post-Workout Properly
An easy first step in building a muscle-recovery formula is finding the right resources following a workout. To recover properly, the body requires proper nutrition, and in order for muscles to grow, protein should be included in a post-workout diet.
Protein shakes are an easy go-to that can pack in a ton of quality protein and be consumed virtually anywhere. This makes them a foolproof option for anyone extremely busy or with limited food resources. The best thing about protein shakes is that they come in multiple flavors and match a variety of dietary needs. For example, there are plant-based, vegan, organic, and all-natural shakes for those who have dietary restrictions and other nutritional goals.
2. Create the Perfect Post-Workout Recipe
A second step that’s important and also fun is building meals designed for recovery. These are meals that contain macronutrients (fats, carbs, and protein) that facilitate muscle recovery and contain nutrients to properly fuel the body.
The most important aspect of recovery meals is that they be consistent and made from foods you truly enjoy. Eating them will then be a joy and not a burden, so you’ll be more inclined to recover properly.
Personally, I’m a huge breakfast and “brinner” fan! Below, I’ve included one of my favorite post-workout brinner recovery meal.
- 1 Serving of Protein Pancake Mix: Approx. 200 calories, 3.5g fat, 23g carbs, 20g protein
- Calorie Free Pancake Syrup
- 1 medium banana: 105 calories, 0.5g fat, 27g carbs, 1g protein
- 1 Tbsp. Almond Butter: 90 calories, 7g fat, 4g carbs, 3g protein
This meal contains ample protein to promote muscle recovery and more importantly carbs to help replenish glycogen, which is an energy resource that is depleted when we work out. On top of its functionality, this meal is tasty and made with foods that keep calories relatively low across the board. So if weight loss is your goal, this is a good option.
3. Try a Night-Time Shake
Once the day has come to an end, another easy way to prolong recovery into the night is by consuming a pre-bed recovery meal. This meal should not contain sugar or heavy, greasy foods, and it should not be consumed too close to bedtime, as that can interfere with sleep.
Ideally, the perfect night-time meal will be something like a casein powder consumed roughly 30–60 minutes before you sleep. This form of protein is heavier than standard protein powder and is designed to prolong the release of protein into the body due to its slower digestion rate. This means that even while you sleep your body will have tools available to aid in recovery.
Casein powder can be consumed in a shake or mixed into a pudding-like texture in a bowl. With multiple flavors, it’s generally a very easy supplement to consume while relaxing after a long day’s work.
The Perfect Recovery Formula
There is no “one size fits all” recovery formula, but there is a formula that will suit your goals best. The best way to learn what your body needs is to experiment and choose the tools that you genuinely enjoy using. Pick supplements and nutrient-dense foods that you love consuming on a regular basis and recovery will forever be a breeze.