I love the fact that anyone can exercise at any time, in any city of the world. Depending on your exercise of choice, it can be a great way to see the sights (even if it is just your neighbourhood), get some fresh air in your lungs and work through your daily strategy.

Fuel your body

An integral part of your daily strategy should really include the kind of ‘petrol’ you are going to use to fuel your body for peak performance.

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Yes, I know that lots of people don’t bother putting much thought into this bit, but if you are going to make the effort to get up and moving, don’t let your body down by not recovering properly immediately after your exercise session.

Eat your way to recovery

Paying attention to what you eat and drink straight after a workout enables you to walk, function and be productive for the rest of the day, which is kind of important isn’t it?

So the question is – do you want to be a BMW or a clapped out car ready for the scrap heap?

Recovery is key to both your muscle regenerating and energy management and will dictate whether you are able to continually push for that personal best or feel the need for a good lie down on the carpet instead.

What are the best foods for muscle recovery?

Timing is everything

The clock starts ticking the minute that your body stops moving.

The ideal recovery window for refuelling your muscles and liver is between 15-30 minutes after you have finished. This piece of the puzzle can be so challenging because it is very easy to waste crucial recovery time doing something else after your exercise session; like talking to your exercise buddies, getting yourself and others ready for work and school or just generally faffing about.

Changes in your body

Your blood is flowing quickly after exercise and there are enzymes ready and waiting to pick up some petrol to transport back to cells and assist your muscle recovery.  This might mean a ‘transition’ snack before your next meal to get the process happening. Hit the timer on your watch to keep yourself on track.

Best choice: Protein + carbohydrate = handful of almonds + banana

Carbohydrate Calling

foods for muscle recovery_3

Best choices:

  1. Bowl of grainy cereal like oats or Weetabix with milk + fresh or frozen fruit

  2. 750ml sports drink + a handful of nuts

  3. 1 cup low fat milk combined with 2 tablespoons skim milk powder

  4. 1 small tub low fat yoghurt + banana

Protein power

Protein is integral in assisting your body to recover effectively following physical exercise. According to sports science experts around the world, protein is most important for muscle recovery following exercise rather than during.

Athletes should aim to consume 10-15 grams of protein within 1-2 hours following training, and the earlier the better.

Protein in food

Luckily, protein is found in many common foods that we eat, so generally speaking, protein supplements are not required. Some examples of foods containing 10 grams of protein include a peanut butter sandwich, a handful of trail mix (fruit and nuts), an energy bar, 250ml custard, a 200g tub of yoghurt or a glass of a reputable nutrition drink.

Keeping wet

One of the most important aspects of recovery is your rehydration strategy.

Fluid recovery is essential and a quick easy way of checking your fluid loss is by monitoring your weight before and after training.  The difference between the two is your fluid loss and the aim should be to replace 125-150% of this loss over the next 2-6 hours.

If you have lost 1 kg in weight you will need to drink 1250-1500 ml to fully rehydrate.

Best choice: Water is the best recovery fluid in combination with food but if you are only taking fluids on board; make sure you glug down plain or flavoured milk or an electrolyte/carbohydrate beverage.

Chocolate

As a kid I loved chocolate-milk, so it’s pretty exciting that it’s now championed by science. Sports nutrition research has shown that choc-milk, other flavoured milk or just plain milk supplies the exact nutrition your body needs after exercise.

Milk and its flavoured counterparts provide you with:

  • Carbohydrates to help refuel muscles and energy stores

  • High quality protein to promote muscle recovery and growth

  • Fluid and electrolytes to help replenish what is lost in sweat

Best choice: Try a 300ml flavoured or plain milk for a recovery boost.

 

Read more from WatchFit Expert Julie Meek.

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