Training – Top 6 Foods for Post-Workout Recovery – Brendan Brazier US News
Whether you’re an endurance or strength athlete, recovery is a crucial component of your training. During your workout you’re breaking down muscles; it’s after your workout that you actually get stronger. Feeling stiff and sore for days after training can significantly reduce your ability to train again and get even stronger. Active recovery techniques such as foam rolling and stretching are important, but post-workout nutrition can make the biggest difference in your performance. These are my six favorite foods toeat post-workout:
1. Nuts and dried fruit. As you work out, your body starts to deplete the levels of glucose in your blood, and must turn to glycogen – carbohydrates stored in your liver and muscle tissue – to fuel your movement. A 4-to-1 carb-to-protein snack speeds the uptake of glycogen back into your muscles and initiates muscle building. Look for foods with the majority carbohydrates and a small amount of protein. I usually grab a handful of almonds and dried fruit, like raisins, to replenish muscle glycogen immediately post-workout. I then wait at least 20 minutes before consuming my high-protein meal.
2. Plant-based protein powder. After you’ve replenished your muscle glycogen with a 4-to-1 ratio of carbs-to-protein, aim to eat 10 to 25 grams of plant-based protein in your post-workout meal from a variety of sources to get a full spectrum of amino acids. Beans, nuts, legumes and organic soy are all options. If possible, reach for proteins that contain essential branched chain amino acids, which help signal your muscles to shift from a catabolic (breaking down muscle during training), to anabolic (building muscle) state. Brown rice, almonds, Brazil nuts, hemp and lima beans all contain BCAAs.
If I’m on-the-go, I always choose a multisource plant-based protein powder. When choosing a protein supplement, make sure it’s multisource (contains more than one plant-based protein source), and is made without soy, artificial flavors, colors or sweeteners. I formulated Vega Sport Performance Protein specifically for athletes. Each serving has 25 grams of premium plant-based protein, as well as 5,000 milligrams each BCAAs and glutamine.
3. Kale. Antioxidants help manage inflammation post-workout. While inflammation is a natural response by your body to stress, it can cause stiffness and soreness and limit your ability to feel great tomorrow. Dark leafy greens such as kale, Swiss chard and collard greens are rich in antioxidants and an important post-workout food. Incorporating a salad into your post-workout meal will help you manage the inflammation created during your workout. Or add a handful of dark leafy greens to your post-workout smoothie – you won’t even taste the difference. I keep bunches of kale in my fridge at all times.
4. Tart cherries. For more inflammation reduction, grab dark colored fruit – like tart cherries. Tart cherries contain compounds called anthocyanins, which block inflammation while preventing muscle damage. You can find dried tart cherries (look for unsweetened) as well as tart cherry concentrate. Both are excellent additions to post-workout smoothies or your electrolyte-rich drink.
5. Maca. Usually found in the supplement aisle, maca helps your body energize, balance and adapt after strenuous activity. This hardy root plant is grown in the Andean mountains of Peru and thrives in an extreme climate of freezing cold, fierce winds and intense sunlight at altitudes of 14,000 feet, where no other crops can survive. In spite of the harsh conditions, maca is rich in amino acids, antioxidants and phytonutrients. Add it to smoothies, oatmeal or in any baked good; it has a mild malted flavor.
6. Pumpkin seeds. Pumpkin seeds are a good source of both BCAAs and zinc, two key nutrients for recovery. Zinc helps the growth, building and repair of your muscle tissue. It can also help to support your immune system. Since periods of heavy athletic training have been shown to impair your immune system, eating foods that are rich in zinc and vitamin A can be very helpful to performance.