Your nutrition following a training session doesn't just help replenish the energy you have just burned off, it can also help your body recover faster.
When you exercise, your body is fuelled by glucose (blood sugar, the body's immediately available source of energy stored in your cells) and glycogen (glucose that has been converted then stored in your muscles for later use) which both come from carbohydrates that have been broken down by your digestive system. Following your workout, your body also uses protein to help rebuild and grow muscle tissue.
It is thought that there's a post-exercise 'window of opportunity' around 30 minutes to an hour after your training session where your body is best able to use the nutrients from your food. This is an ideal time to have a meal or snack rich in protein for muscle growth, along with some carbohydrates to replenish your energy levels.
Here are some foods to help boost your post-workout recovery.
Plain, low-fat Greek yoghurt is a great source of protein and typically contains less sugar than regular yoghurt. Eat some with fresh fruit or trail mix, incorporate into a smoothie or have with oatmeal for a delicious breakfast.
Nut butters are rich in protein, delicious, a good source of healthy fats and can be incredibly versatile. Spread peanut butter on toast with sliced banana, put a dollop of smooth peanut butter into a smoothie or shake, or have some as a dip with apple wedges. If you have a peanut allergy, you could try cashew or almond butter instead.
Made from chickpeas that are low in fat and high in protein, hummus makes a great post-workout snack. Team it with carrot or celery sticks, spread it on crackers, or eat with pita chips. Traditionally made with olive oil and tahini (sesame paste), there are now many hummus products available that are flavoured with a variety of herbs and spices to suit all tastes.
Whether you have it as a post-workout meal or as part of a snack, salmon has plenty of protein and omega-3 fatty acids to promote heart health. Grill with your favourite herbs and spices, add cooked chunks of salmon into a salad, or eat smoked salmon with cream cheese on crackers.
Rich in protein, eggs are an ideal post-workout recovery food. Adding vegetables will also increase your intake of vitamins and nutrients; scrambled eggs with mushrooms, poached eggs with avocados on toast, or try making a vegetable omelette.
Bananas are a healthy source of carbohydrates that will provide you with a natural energy boost. They are rich in potassium and easy to take along to the gym if you're on the go afterwards. Team them with a protein shake, have them in a smoothie with yoghurt, or eat as-is with a small handful of raw unsalted nuts for added protein.
NZ Real Health is an online blog by Ange Noy where you can find practical information and advice on health, wellbeing and fitness. For more articles like this, visit www.nzrealhealth.co.nz.