Without a doubt consuming the appropriate food and fluid post-workout will improve how quickly your body recovers. For the serious athlete, foods eaten post-exercise should be considered just as carefully as foods eaten pre-exercise. When there is limited time between workouts, it’s especially important to replenish carbohydrate storage and repair lean muscle.
When there is fewer than 8 hours between high-intensity workouts, don’t just flop down on the couch. Refueling practices should begin within 30 minutes. For longer periods between workouts (12+ hours), refueling won’t be quite as crucial. The earlier you begin to take in fuel, the faster your body will replenish depleted stores. This is due to greater blood flow to muscles and muscle cells are more sensitive to insulin, which promotes glycogen storage.
Post-exercise it’s good practice to refuel with a 4:1 ratio of carbohydrate to protein. Adding this small amount of protein will stimulate growth and repair of muscle, and it will enhance the restoration rate of glycogen. An athlete’s initial recovery snack should include 15-25 grams of high-quality protein, and 30-50 grams of carbohydrates. Within a couple hours post-workout, try to have a quality, balanced meal with fiber-rich carbohydrates, lean proteins, fruits and vegetables.
Some athletes may encounter problems with post-exercise eating. Problems such as loss of appetite, limited access to suitable foods or lack of interest to eat food due to fatigue. If this is the case, try and troubleshoot the issue. If food doesn’t seem appetizing post-workout then try liquid recovery sources such as chocolate milk, smoothie or meal-replacement beverages (ex. Ensure, Boost or Gatorade recovery shakes). A bonus to using these is that they will hydrate you at the same time.
Hydration & Electrolytes
Hydrating should be a top priority post-workout. Even when taking in fluids during exercise, you’ll only be able to replace about 80% of what you lose through sweating. Drink at least 2-1/2 cups (600 mL) for every pound lost during exercise. Headaches, nausea and/or not urinating within a few hours post-workout are good signs that you are dehydrated.
If you sweat heavily or tend to have salty sweat consider not drinking solely water. Replenishing electrolytes, especially sodium will be key. Go ahead and use the saltshaker on your food or include salty foods at meals and snacks.
When traveling I like to bring Nesquick or Horizon’s individual-sized milk cartons that have been ultra-pasteurized at a higher temp, making them shelf stable! They taste best cold, so if you don’t have them in a cooler or refrigerator put them on ice. They have carbohydrates, high-quality protein, fluids and electrolytes all in one package. Perfect to use when traveling, and are available in different flavors.
As the temperature outside begins to drop, I made this beautiful stew for dinner. Recently I’ve been experimenting with more root vegetables such as parsnips and turnips. I came across this recipe on the Food Network website by The Pioneer Woman herself, Ree Drummond. Now, I edited the recipe a bit by adding a few more seasonings and a couple Yukon gold potatoes. The boyfriend is a picky eater and he ate it up, parsnips and turnips and all! So I consider that a big success.
- 3 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 tablespoon butter
- 2 pounds beef stew meat
- 3 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 medium onion, diced
- 1 can or bottle beer
- 4 cups beef broth
- 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
- 2 to 3 tablespoons tomato paste
- 1 1/2 teaspoons sugar
- 1/2 teaspoon paprika
- 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
- Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
- 1 teaspoon dried thyme
- 1 teaspoon dried oregano
- 1 bay leaf
- 2 carrots, roughly sliced
- 2 parsnips, roughly sliced
- 1 small turnip, roughly sliced
- 2 medium Yukon Gold potatoes, diced
- 1 tablespoons cornstarch, optional
- Minced fresh parsley, for garnish
- Heat oil and butter in stock pot and brown the beef. Remove beef from the pot, add garlic and onions and cook until softened, about 3 minutes.
- Pour in beer, beef broth, Worcestershire sauce, tomato paste, sugar, paprika, salt, black pepper, thyme, oregano and bay leaf. Then return beef to the pot, cover and simmer on a low heat until the meat is very tender, 1-1/2 to 2 hours. If the liquid level gets too low, add additional broth as needed.
- Add the carrots, parsnips, turnips and potatoes and continue to simmer until tender and the liquid is reduced, about 30 minutes.
- If the stew is still too thin, remove a cup of cooking liquid from the pan and stir in the flour. Add the flour mixture back into the pan and stir. Simmer for 10 minutes until the stew is thick. Beef should be very tender; if tough, continue to simmer until tender. Remove bay leaf and garnish with minced fresh parsley before serving.
Source: Adapted from Ree Drummond – The Pioneer Woman 2012