Recovery after workout is a nutritional strategy used by athletes to refill their glycogen stores, feed their muscles, and rehydrate their bodies after exercise.
It is often used in conjunction with fueling and carb-loading, but it can also be used as a standalone strategy after any physical activity.
In this blog you'll learn all you need to know about proper muscle recovery.
What is recovery after workout?
Recovery after workout is the act of supplying your body with three vital nutrients immediately after exercise.
The purpose of recovery is to allow your body to quickly restore energy levels, repair and grow muscle tissues, and replenish the electrolytes lost in sweat during exercise.
Proper recovery will allow you to reduce fatigue and muscle soreness and feel more energized and motivated to perform your next training session. On the long term, proper recovery also prevents illness and injuries, as it allows you to sustain a strong immune system and correct body functions.
On the other hand, the lack of proper recovery has the opposite effect. You will feel more tired, your muscles will be sore, your body functions will be impaired, and over a prolonged period of time, you will chronically increase stress levels, weaken your immune system, and drastically increase chance of illness and injury.
The purpose of recovery is to provide your body with carbohydrates, protein, and minerals immediately after exercise.
The vital nutrients for recovery
To properly recover after exercise, you need to provide your body with carbohydrates, protein, and electrolytes immediately after exercise.
Carbohydrates for recovery
After exercise, your body's glycogen stores are low or, in case of prolonged high-intensity exercise, fully depleted.
Refilling your glycogen stores should be one of your top priorities, as low glycogen stores mean low energy levels and increased stress levels. Without energy, your body won't be able to function, while stress is a threat you should always aim to keep low.
Low energy levels and increased stress also lead to a weakened immune system. If you fail to recognize the importance of a strong immune system, be sure to remedy this mistake now!
Many athletes rush to consume protein after exercise, but as important as protein is, it won't do you much good if your glycogen stores are empty.
The best source of carbohydrates to quickly replenish your glycogen stores is a combination of glucose and fructose, ideally in a 1:0.8 ratio. These two simple sugars will be quickly absorbed in your body and stored as glycogen in your muscles and liver.
Protein for recovery
Everyone seems to know that after exercise you need protein. And this observation is in fact correct. After exercise, your muscles are weak and damaged, and a good source of protein is exactly what they need.
There are many viable options in terms of the sources of protein you can supply to your muscles, and the requirements don't seem to be as strict as with carbohydrates, so you can choose whatever source you like.
There is one aspect to consider, though. The ratio between carbohydrates and protein. You can find different ratios being tossed around, such as 2:1 or 3:1 carbohydrate to protein ratio, but research seems to confirm that for an endurance athlete, the optimal ratio is actually a 4:1 carbohydrate to protein ratio.
And let us also leave you with a fun fact.
Endurance athletes actually need more protein than weightlifters.
Minerals for recovery
Whatever small thing your body wants to do, it needs an electrolyte to carry out the task. Electrolytes, which are simply minerals that came in contact with your blood, pretty much run the show.
After exercise, plenty of minerals will have left your body through sweat, and you'd do well to replace them immediately.
The minerals you need to replace are:
- sodium chloride aka salt
Getting the minerals back from food is actually quite difficult, as it's best to get them all in one fell swoop, but since salt is the mineral you lose most of, that one is the easiest to find pretty much anywhere.
If you are one of the three people in the world who are interested in such cold and boring facts, you might want to learn more about the optimal mineral composition.
High absorption rate
Highest level of absorption
The best way to recover after workout
If you want to trigger the optimal recovery after a workout, you need to provide all the necessary nutrients (carbohydrates, protein, and minerals) to your body within 30 minutes after your workout.
This is incredibly difficult to do consistently with ordinary food for two simple reasons.
- Consuming a full meal immediately after a workout is very impractical.
- It is difficult to hit the right concentration of nutrients with regular food.
This is why many athletes use recovery drinks.
A proper recovery drink contains all the nutrients you need.
- A perfect combination of fast-acting sugars.
- The correct amount of high-quality protein.
- The optimal concentration of minerals.
While there is a variety of recovery drinks on the market and not all of them are optimal, a good recovery drink is by far the best way to consistently recover after a workout and allow your body to perform at its best over a prolonged period of time.
Recovery after workout is a nutritional strategy used by all types of athletes to provide their body with the nutrients it needs to refill glycogen stores, repair and grow muscle, and rehydrate.
To recover, your body needs carbohydrates, protein, and minerals within 30 minutes after exercise. The most efficient way to provide these nutrients is by using a recovery drink.
Taking care of proper recovery will allow you to perform at your best over a prolonged period of time and realize your full athletic potential, while avoiding stress, illness, and injury.