Any vigorous exercise activity lasting longer than ~45minutes will deplete the body of it’s glycogen stores. The first 30-45 minutes post workout is the best and most critical time to replenish stores lost and help aid the body in recovery. This recovery includes replacing energy stores, avoiding muscle soreness, repair and rebuild muscle as well as preventing post workout fatigue.
What should I eat or drink?
The current suggested dose for optimal recovery is a 2:1 ration of carbohydrate to protein after strength sessions and 4:1 after endurance training. Don’t be afraid of CARBS. While, protein is essential to help rebuild muscles and prevent soreness, carbohydrates are needed to restore energy.
One type of natural food great to reduce inflammation and muscle soreness is tart cherry juice. It’s very rich in antioxidants and research has shown it to aid in athletic performance.
Foods high in Amino Acids like Leucine, can also help to replenish muscles after a workout. Leucine can be found in meats and dairy products such as: steak, eggs, milk, whole wheat and beans.
Plan ahead with liquid recovery meals.
Try liquid meals or drinks to help quickly (and easily) restore muscles and glycogen stores. Chocolate Milk is a great source of calcium, potassium and magnesium all very important electrolytes lost or depleted during vigorous exercise. It also contains leucine, an amino acid (mentioned above) that helps replenish muscles.
Liquid meals might be easier to digest after a hard workout. You can buy pre-made recovery drinks, or create your own with fruit, juice (like tart cherry juice) as well as a serving of your choice of protein powder.
Restoring glycogen and protein are essential to muscle recovery, so is proper hydration. The body uses large amount of water during exercise, and it could take up to 6 hours to restore. Water loss and dehydration can cause muscle fatigue and weakness and well as an electrolyte imbalance.
Always make sure to drink plenty of fluids during exercise, replenish post exercise and most importantly, rest.