If you’re an athlete or a gym-goer who loves the challenge of a good workout, physical activity and fitness is likely among your top priorities in life. From building your muscles with weight-lifting to increasing your endurance through cardio, you feel best when you’re pushing your body to its limits.
But even athletes in top shape know that exhaustion and soreness can follow after an intense training session. exercise can take quite the toll on your body’s nutritional resources.
Once you’ve expended all that energy molding your body to excellence, it’s important to reward yourself with foods that will replenish your vital nutrients and boost your energy levels so that you’re ready to take on your next workout.
Wondering how to speed up muscle recovery? If you want to stay powered up for the gym and life in general, you’ll need to know these top recovery foods for athletes and why they’re important.
Why are Post-Work Recovery Foods Important?
Eating well after your workout is a necessary component for post-workout recovery. From sweating to burning calories, you expend a significant amount of your body’s energy, resources, and nutrients while getting in shape. So it’s important that you replenish them.
Some of the vital nutrients and resources our bodies rely on include:
These and other nutrients are the fuel that keep your body powered up and ready to meet whatever challenges you throw at it.
However, these nutrients don’t renew themselves.And without them, your body can't perform to the standards you set for it. Failing to resupply your body’s nutritional reserves after you’ve been pumping iron can leave you feeling drained and prevent you from meeting your athletic goals.
On the other hand, eating properly after a workout can:
- Help promote muscle growth
- Improve your immune system
- Improve bone mass
- Enhance metabolism
Many of the best muscle recovery foods are staples of a healthy diet for any athlete, which gives you even more reason to add them to your post-workout plate. here’s what you should be eating after your next session to reduce soreness and aid recovery.
Recovery Foods: What to Eat After Exercise
There are three primary nutritional goals every athlete should set for themselves after a workout:
- repair your muscles
- replenish glycogen levels
What you eat and drink after your workout needs to support these goals, which is why choosing the right recovery food or organic supplements is so crucial. So, let’s take a closer look at each goal and what you can do to reach it.
Our bodies are around 60% water.2 That simple mixture of hydrogen and oxygen is the elixir of life. Without it, our bodies cannot function.
This is because water is packed with electrolytes—charged substances that the body uses to perform an array of necessary functions, such as:
- Growing new cells
- Balancing fluid levels3
- Regulating chemical reactions
- Moving muscles
When you sweat, you lose electrolytes at a fast rate, so rebuilding them after your workout is crucial for athletes. But it’s not enough to hit the gym and then chug a sports drink afterward. You need to be adequately hydrated before, during, and after your workout for optimal recovery.4
What does “adequately hydrated” mean, you ask? According to the American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM), it begins with ingesting fluids and eating well during the 24 hours before your workout. Then, the ACSM advises:
- Drinking at least 17 ounces of water roughly two hours before your workout
- Drinking 4-8 ounces of water at regular intervals throughout your workout
- Replenishing with at least 16 ounces per pound of lost fluid afterward5
Depending on the intensity and duration of your workout, you may need to hydrate more.
Wondering what to drink after a workout? Aside from water, you can also rehydrate your body after a workout with:
- A protein smoothie
- Natural fruit juice
- Chocolate milk
- Water-rich fruits, such as watermelon
After a workout, your body needs to repair damaged muscle tissue, build new muscle tissue, and strengthen existing muscle tissue. In order to do all this, it needs one thing in particular: protein.
Even if your exercise goals don’t include bulking up like a bodybuilder, your body needs a significant amount of protein after a workout to support your muscles as they repair, recover, and build. This is why it’s recommended that you ingest just over an ounce of protein after you work out.6
Here are the foods that help muscle recovery and can help you reach your post-workout protein goals:
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Glycogen is a form of sugar that’s stored in the muscles. If the body were a car, glycogen would be the gas: it fuels the body’s cells and gives you the energy you need to get through your workouts.
Unfortunately, our bodies aren’t super efficient when it comes to storing glycogen and maintaining high levels of it. Even when you’re kicking back after your workout, nearly 20% of the energy you’re using comes from glycogen.8 That can jump up to as high as 85% when you’re in the midst of your exercise. Because of this, no post-workout food plan is complete unless it focuses on replenishing your glycogen levels.
Our bodies get the glucose that it turns into glycogen from carbohydrates. First, our bodies metabolize or break down carbohydrates into glucose through a process known as gluconeogenesis. Once that’s complete, our bodies take that glucose and start making glycogen, which it then stores in our muscles.
So, loading up on the following carbohydrate-rich foods is critical if you want to make sure your body is producing and storing optimal levels of glycogen:
Whole wheat bread and whole wheat crackers can also give your body a healthy carbohydrate boost.
Bounce Back from Your Workout Faster with Cymbiotika
When it comes to rebuilding your body’s nutrient reserves after a workout, getting the proper amount of water, protein, and carbohydrates isn’t always easy. This can be especially true for those of us with dietary lifestyles that don’t include meat, dairy, and other animal by-products.
At Cymbiotika, we know that getting the right amount of nutrients is important to you, and we know that our modern diets don’t always make room for what’s most essential. Our mission is to fill that gap.
By combining innovative science with traditional Eastern medicine, we’re crafting the best supplements on earth from high-quality, plant-based ingredients. Another great supplement to boost brain power and improve memory is magnesium L-threonate, which can help support your overall wellness goals.
Browse our selection today to learn more.
- Wellness Daily. 7 Essential Nutrients Your Body Needs. https://www.wellnessdaily.com.au/health/7-essential-nutrients-your-body-needs
- Medical News Today. What Percentage of the Human Body is Water? https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/what-percentage-of-the-human-body-is-water
- Roswell Park. Electrolytes—What Are They? What Happens if You Don’t Have Enough? https://www.roswellpark.org/cancertalk/201808/electrolytes-what-are-they-what-happens-if-you-dont-have-enough
- Orthopedic and Sports Medicine Institute. Eating for Post-Workout Recovery. https://www.osmifw.com/eating-for-post-workout-recovery/
- National Library of Medicine. American College of Sports Medicine Position Stand. Exercise and Fluid Replacement. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/9303999/
- Healthline. The 10 Best Muscle Recovery Foods and Drinks. https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/best-muscle-recovery-foods#3.-Fatty-fish
- Healthline. The 9 Healthiest Beans and Legumes You Can Eat. https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/healthiest-beans-legumes#TOC_TITLE_HDR_6
- Muscle Sound. What Is Glycogen? https://www.musclesound.com/2016/05/23/what-is-glycogen/
- Harvard School of Public Health. Protein. https://www.hsph.harvard.edu/nutritionsource/what-should-you-eat/protein/