Post-Workout Recovery: What You Need to Know

Fueling your body, and what you fuel your body with, after your workout is essential for your body to recover and rebuild and will ultimately affect your next workout and training program. There is a 30-45 minute window for athletes to maximize recovery. Those athletes who properly recover soon after working out have a distinct advantage over those who do not. The key to post-workout recovery is to remember these 3 R’s: Rehydrate, Refuel, and Rebuild.

  1. Rehydrate: The best way to know how much to rehydrate your body post-workout is to weigh yourself before and after you exercise. The general rule of thumb is drink 24 oz. of fluid for each pound lost during exercise. If you weigh more than before your workout, you most likely are drinking too much water. Keep in mind that the goal is to stay properly hydrated while exercising, therefore maintaining the same weight. So, for each pound lost during activity, drink an additional 16 oz. of fluid the next time you exercise. For example, if you drank 8 oz. while exercising for 60 minutes and lost one pound, your goal is to drink an additional 16 oz. during your next workout, totaling 24 oz. of fluid intake while exercising. Ultimately post-workout, monitoring your urine to make sure it is clear (meaning hydrated) will determine if you are drinking enough fluids.
  2. Refuel: In order to refuel your body you need to eat carbohydrates to replace your muscle and liver glycogen to refuel your energy stores. You also need carbohydrates to produce insulin in order to drive muscle building.
  3. Rebuild: In order to help the growth of new muscle tissue, and repair existing tissue that may have been torn, it is important to also consume protein. Exercise drains critical amino acids, which are the building blocks for protein used to build and repair muscles. So how much protein should you eat post-workout? The recommendation for the proper ratio of carbohydrate to protein is 4:1 after endurance workouts (2:1 carbohydrate to protein following strength workouts). It is commonly recommended that athletes consume between 15-25 grams of protein post-workout. Also, according to Dr. Michael Colgan, author of “Optimum Sports Nutrition”, athletes typically need to consume more protein throughout the day. Colgan recommends consuming 1.4 grams of protein per pound of lean body mass as the optimal amount for endurance athletes to consume per day.

Many athletes may experience appetite loss post-workout as exercise can act as an appetite suppressant. Therefore, liquid meals are often more appealing as a post-workout recovery option. Liquids are also absorbed more quickly than solid foods resulting in better recovery. Choosing your fluid wisely is essential. The best options include: 100% fruit juice (“Antioxidant rich foods help reduce inflammation and decrease muscle soreness. One of the easiest ways to get an adequate amount of antioxidants and carbohydrates is by drinking tart cherry juice. Research shows that drinking tart cherry juice aids athletic performance and comes highly recommended for recovery foods. Following juice consumption with a form of protein would be recommended” http://www.active.com/nutrition/Articles/Recovery-Foods-that-Ease-Muscle-Soreness), non-fat or 1% chocolate milk or soy milk, protein shakes with fruit mixed in, or sports drinks. Chocolate milk has actually been shown to provide some of the best post-workout recovery benefits as it not only provides carbohydrates, but also electrolytes, sodium, and potassium lost in sweat. Small snack options are also great in assisting recovery and include foods like: Greek yogurt, energy bars, crackers and peanut or almond butter, or cottage cheese and fruit with a small nutrient-rich muffin. I personally enjoy a protein shake made with chocolate soy milk with added fruit. I have included a few of my favorite shakes below.

Apple Almond Butter (Super Fabulous) Protein Shake

1 cup light vanilla soy milk
1/2 an apple of your choice (I use either Honey Crisp or Granny Smith as I like the tart, crisp taste)
Protein powder (I use 3 tablespoons vanilla protein powder. Use whatever protein powder you prefer and measure to equal between 15-25 grams of protein as is recommended; see above).
1 tbsp. almond butter
Dash of cinnamon
1/2 tsp. honey
2 tbsp. uncooked old fashioned oats
1 cup ice

Place all ingredients into blender and mix until smooth. Enjoy!
Printable recipe

Chocolate Banana Almond Butter (Shut your mouth good!) Protein Shake

1 cup light chocolate soy milk
1 banana
Protein powder (I use 3 tablespoons vanilla protein powder. Use whatever protein powder you prefer and measure to equal between 15-25 grams of protein as is recommended; see above).
1 tbsp. almond butter
2 tbsp. uncooked old fashioned oats
1 cup ice

Place all ingredients into blender and mix until smooth. Happy eating!
Printable recipe

Sources: http://www.active.com/nutrition/Articles/5-High-Protein-Foods-for-Optimal-Recovery.htm; http://www.active.com/nutrition/Articles/Recovery-Foods-that-Ease-Muscle-Soreness; http://www.usaswimming.org/ViewMiscArticle.aspx?TabId=1596&Alias=Rainbow&Lang=en&mid=196&ItemId=2640; http://sportsmedicine.about.com/od/hydrationandfluid/a/ProperHydration.htm; http://www.virtualmedicalcentre.com/healthandlifestyle/exercise-recovery/186#C6; http://www.rei.com/learn/expert-advice/hydrate.html; http://www.active.com/nutrition/Articles/How-to-Hydrate-Before-During-and-After-a-Workout?page=2; http://healthyeating.sfgate.com/food-rebuild-muscle-after-exercise-3987.html; http://www.active.com/nutrition/Articles/Your-Post-Workout-Recovery-Ritual.htm

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Why I Ride

There’s something about a small town coffee shop that gets me thinking of home. I grew up in a tiny little town on the south shore of Lake Superior. The people from town to town are of course always different, but the conversation hardly changes—how’s the football team doing this year, did you hear about Mr. or Mrs. So-and-so down the street, what about that local business down the road that just went up for sale. But as I sit here today, I’m really thinking about why some of us have this deep passion to push our bodies, to feel out of breath, to feel like we might fall over at any moment from the intense workout we just experienced.

While reminiscing about home and thinking of this burning desire to push myself I immediately think of my father. He’s that guy that just showed up at the coffee shop on his bicycle with his sandals that also have clips on the bottom for his pedals. He’s wearing some greenish gray windbreaker type capris and a shirt that has something to do with biking; today it’s his evolution of man shirt that ends with the man riding a bike.

My father is the very reason why I push myself to the edge, why I’m always looking for that next intense workout to kick my rear. My dad entered the bike scene in his college days. (This was also the time period when he was an avid runner before the numerous sprained ankles took effect). He loved the bike scene, the “bicycle freaks and geeks” as he states it. He began entering bike races and found out that he was good, really good. The hundred (I don’t know how many there are, but I would bet it has to be a hundred, if not more) trophies in the basement of his and my step-mom’s house are proof. As a child these trophies were kept in a case (not a glass case, but more like a trunk), if I remember correctly. I’m not even sure how often my dad would show me these trophies, maybe it was only once, but that was enough. I knew, even at the age of five or six, that when I grew up I wanted that many trophies with my name on them.

As I sit here, I realize how fitting it is that my love for biking, truly biking, the long strenuous rides, began in college. My dad always knew he loved biking, but didn’t get into the scene until college because of the small town he grew up in (the same town I grew up in). It just took me longer. Maybe it was realizing how important family really is, or that I couldn’t do the sports I did in high school for the rest of my life. Maybe it was just the right time.

I’m not sure if I’ve really answered any questions to why people push themselves; maybe I’ve jumped around in my reminiscing as too many thoughts crowd my mind at once. Anyway, maybe it will help you realize why you have this same burning desire to be something great, or push yourself to that edge, that maybe you hadn’t thought of before.

Libby & Dad

Bananas, Potassium, and Preventing Cramping

Every week I buy bananas I seem to have 2 left by the weekend that are quite ripe, so I’m always looking for healthy banana recipes. Bananas provide a good source of potassium which helps prevent muscle cramping. Both the Colorado State University Extension and the Linus Pauling Institute at Oregon State University, recommend eating bananas to prevent, not treat, muscle cramps associated with low potassium. (Source: http://www.livestrong.com/article/359794-can-bananas-be-good-for-muscle-cramps/#ixzz2LG435wlx) This weekend, I found a great banana oat muffin recipe that I altered slightly. (I’m always adding my own twist to recipes, some that work, some that don’t. I promise to only share the ones that work with you though of course!) One thing that I especially liked about this recipe is that no butter was used. It does call for vegetable oil, but that can easily be substituted with applesauce. This recipe is simple (I love simple!), quick, and relatively healthy. You will find it below; I hope you enjoy these muffins as much as I did!

Banana Oat Muffins

Makes 12 muffins
Ingredients:
1 1/2 cups whole wheat flour
1 cup rolled oats (not instant)
1/4 cup white sugar
1 tbsp. brown sugar
2 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
1 egg
3/4 cup vanilla light soy milk
1/3 cup vegetable oil
1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
2 ripe, mashed bananas
3/4 cup chopped walnuts (optional)
Directions:
  1. In a medium bowl, combine flour, oats, sugars, baking powder, soda, and salt.
  2. In a large bowl, lightly beat the egg. Stir in soy milk, oil, and vanilla. Add the mashed banana, and combine thoroughly. Stir the flour mixture from your medium bowl into the banana mixture until just combined. Line a 12-cup muffin tin with paper bake cups, or grease your tin, and divide the batter among them. Sprinkle walnuts on top of each muffin batter.
  3. Bake at 400 degrees F for 16 to 18 minutes.

Printable recipe