According to Dr Shona Hallston, Head of Recovery at the AIS, there are three key factors in improving post-exercise recovery – sleep, compression and getting the right nutrition. When it comes to eating well, your focus should be on good food rich in protein and carbohydrates and ensuring you are adequately rehydrated.
The goals of post-workout food
Three aims should guide your food and drink choices post-training:
1. Replenishing fuel stores that have been sapped throughout training or racing
2. Feeding our muscles protein to help them repair and grow
3. Restoring fluids.
Here are some food options to get you inspired, whether you’re exercising in the morning, over lunch or in the evenings…
You’ve done the hard yards getting up for an early morning training session – now don’t let your good work come undone by not adequately restoring your fuel and hydration levels.
Yoghurt and fruit is a winning combination, offering a quality source of protein in the yoghurt and healthy, carbohydrate-rich fruit. Choosing fruits high in antioxidants, like blueberries and dark cherries, has the added benefit of reducing the level of muscle inflammation, which can speed recovery.
Smoothies are another easy, speedy breakfast recovery food that can be made and eaten on the go. Opt for a whey-derived protein shake and mix in low fat milk and your choice of fruits. Bananas and blueberries are a great start!
If you can get a training run or strengthening session out over your lunch break, you’re onto a pretty good thing. To ensure you don’t hit an afternoon slump, fuelling up post-exercise is key. Sports Dietitians Australia recommends eating a salad roll with 60 g lean sandwich meat and a banana as a good recovery meal. Mix up the combos by trying a turkey bagel with spinach leaves or some sliced ham on fresh multigrain bread.
Fish and fish oil is a rich source of anti-inflammatory omega-3 fats, an essential fat in reducing the severity of inflammation as well as providing a good protein source. A delicious post-workout dinner could be a piece of grilled salmon with quinoa and greens or baked salmon with roast potato and mixed lettuce salad.
Chicken breast is another great protein source to create meals around, try a grilled chicken salad with avocado, cous cous and rocket or a risotto with chicken breast, asparagus, pumpkin and peas.