If you're training for a race, to improve your endurance or just working on your overall fitness, it's always a good idea to have a good stock of recovery foods at the ready to chow down after your efforts.
The ideal recovery meal contains a blend of carbohydrates and protein.
Your body uses carbohydrates as the primarily fuel for your training sessions. Naturally, we need to refill our tanks when they've been depleted. So after you've sweated it out on the bike, or at the gym, you need a hit of good carbohydrates afterwards.
Carbs are found in a variety of foods - but there are good types, and bad types. Sugary treats will contain empty carbs and calories that we just don't need, so it's best to stay away from those sweets when you're body is starving for nourishment. "Good" carbs can be found in fruits and vegetables which are nutrient rich with bonus vitamins and minerals, and in pasta and rice which have the added benefit of fibre.
It isn't just the fuel tanks that need restocking, but the muscles need some TLC foods too. Primarily protein. Protien is what helps the muscles to recover and repair themselves. As nutritionist Joseph Agu explained to us recently: "During exercise your muscle fibres break down. That’s a natural process of exercise and that break down allows them to rebuild, causing an adaptation. Protein ingestion facilitates that response by stimulating what we call muscle protein synthesis"
It's best to introduce a healthy a mix of carbs and protein into your diet to ensure you get the necessary nutrients the body needs after a work-out. It's recommended to eat within a 60 minute window after your session as that's when you're body will readily take up the vital nutrients.
So for those crucial 60 minutes, here's some of our quick and easy post-workout snacks.
Wholegrain oats are fab. They are a great source of complex carbohydrates, protein and fibre which helps lower cholesterol levels in the body.
Wholegrain oats contains a high level of phosphorus which is great for muscle recovery, and helps store fuel for your next session. Make them with milk, and you've got your added protein, which you can boost with a few nuts as a topping.
Porridge doesn't just have to be a breakfast food, it's great throughout the day as well. Experiment with different toppings to get an additional dose of vitamins and nutrients, whilst enhancing the flavour.
Fruit and Yoghurt
Low fat yoghurt and fresh fruit is a winning combination of protein and carbs.
It's incredibly easy to throw together - just mix it up with various fruits, nuts and seeds. This mix is also great for storing in the fridge so it's ready for when you get home.
Pasta, Rice and Chicken or Pork
Wholegrain pasta and rice are rich sources of carbohydrates, and when mixed with a protein source like chicken or pork, you just can't go wrong.
Pork has a high Vitamin B content which gives you a much needed boost in metabolism and energy, and Chicken is of course a great source of lean protein too.
Whether it's a stir-fry, pasta bake or simply plain, these foods are great hot or cold, and you can make them in bulk and serve as required too.
Arguably the best post-workout drink is milk. It's a great source of protein, natural sugars and healthy fat.
If you have a lactose intolerance, then there are a variety of milk alternatives: soy, almond and rice milk.
Milk is thirst-quenching as well as a great aid for muscle repair after an extensive workout.
Dried Fruits, Nuts, Seeds
Never underestimate the impact a handful of these little guys can have on your body. Nuts, seeds and dried fruit are little punches of what you need after a hard workout.
Healthy fats, proteins, vitamins and minerals, these are perfect for snacking on in the car, on the trail and at the gym. They also taste great sprinkled on porridge, salads and yoghurt!
Eating turkey is for all year round, and not just for Christmas.
Turkey is one of the leanest poultries you can eat. It's rammed full of essential amino acids and a rich source of protein.
Mix it in with some carbohydrates too - a wholegrain pasta dish, a sandwich on brown bread - the possibilities are endless!
Many of these tasty post-workout snacks are great for keeping in your gym bag, your car and fridge so they're readily available for that short 60 minute window.
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