How Do I Recover Faster From a Workout With Food?
No matter your fitness goal – whether it’s to lose fat, get stronger, train for an athletic event, or improve endurance – exercise and proper nutrition go hand-in-hand in achieving optimal health and longevity. If we eliminate one, we cannot possibly feel like our best selves. As a personal trainer, I have had a few clients come to me and say: “I go to the gym and follow your workout plan, so I don’t know why I feel so sluggish and tired all the time. I thought that if I started exercising again, I would have more energy.”
One of the first follow-up questions I’ve asked is, “What’s your diet like?” Without the proper nutrients, we set ourselves up for premature burnout at the gym, longer recovery time and an increased risk of injury. While some soreness following a workout can be expected, especially with resistance training and high-impact activities like running, recovery time may take longer if we don’t fuel and refuel our bodies with the necessary nutrients. Slow recovery time can be extremely discouraging for a beginner or for someone who has recently lived a sedentary lifestyle.
Exercise Physiology: The Science Behind Post-Workout Soreness and How Proper Nutrition Can Decrease Recovery Time
Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness (DOMS) is exercise-induced soreness that begins to occur 12-24 hours following a workout, usually causing the most pain 24-72 hours after. The American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) states that a common misconception of DOMS is that it is a result of lactic acid, but this is not the case. DOMS occurs as a side effect of the body’s repair process of microscopic muscle tears. The severity of pain depends on the types of impact your body undergoes. For example, walking or jogging down a hill places a greater force on your quadriceps, hamstrings, and glutes than walking on a flat surface. Performing higher repetitions during resistance training will place a greater force on the muscles targeted than a lower amount of repetitions. If the type of activity remains consistent, the severity of the pain often decreases as the body adapts, but if you are a novice of exercise, make sure to gradually progress and give your body the time it needs to recover.
Consuming the proper nutrients after a workout is vital in allowing your body a quicker recovery time. In our carbohydrate-fearing world we are told to avoid carbs, with claims that they will make us fat and/or prevent fat loss from occurring. Carbohydrates are the body’s main source of energy, providing fuel for our muscles, organs, and nervous system. Additionally, it has been proven that continual exercise without carbohydrates results in the loss of skeletal muscle mass. After a workout, our bodies need carbohydrates in order to replenish glycogen (stored form of glucose) stores. Our bodies also need protein to rebuild damaged muscle tissue and enhance growth, and it is best to have a combination of protein and carbohydrates for faster recovery.
Help your body to recover faster with these tasty and nutritious recipes:
Chicken Tostadas and Avocado Salsa
- 3 tablespoons fresh lime juice
- 1 1/2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
- 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1 cup pre-chopped tomato
- 1/2 cup pre-chopped white onion
- 1 tablespoon chopped fresh cilantro
- 1 avocado, peeled and diced
- 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil, divided
- 4 (6-inch) flour tortillas
- 2 cups shredded green leaf lettuce
- 1 (15-ounce) can no-salt-added black beans, rinsed and drained
- 2 cups shredded boneless rotisserie chicken breast
- 1/4 cup crumbled queso fresco
- Combine the first 5 ingredients in a medium bowl, stirring with a whisk. Add tomato, onion, cilantro, and avocado; toss gently to coat.
- Heat a large cast-iron or nonstick skillet over medium heat. Add 3/4 teaspoon oil to pan; swirl to coat. Add 1 tortilla to pan; cook 1 minute on each side or until browned. Repeat procedure 3 times with remaining 2 1/4 teaspoons oil and tortillas.
- Place 1 tortilla on each of 4 plates. Layer each tortilla with 1/2 cup lettuce, about 1/2 cup beans, 1/2 cup chicken, 1/4 cup avocado salsa, and 1 tablespoon cheese.
Nutrition Facts Per Serving (1 tostada):
Calories: 429; Total fat: 21.6g; Saturated fat: 4.1g; Protein: 26.3g; Total carbohydrate: 35g; Cholesterol: 55mg; Sodium: 544mg
*Recipe Courtesy of Myrecipes.com
Garlic-Chipotle Chicken Tacos
- 1 tablespoon chopped fresh garlic
- 1 tablespoon minced chipotle chile, canned in adobo sauce
- 2 tablespoons canola oil, divided
- 1-pound chicken cutlets
- 3/4 teaspoon kosher salt, divided
- 3/4 teaspoon black pepper, divided
- Cooking spray
- 2 teaspoons chili powder
- 1 small red bell pepper, quartered
- 1 small green bell pepper, quartered
- 1 small Vidalia (or any type) onion, cut into 1/2-inch rings
- 8 (6-inch) corn tortillas
- 1/2 cup shredded green leaf lettuce
- Preheat grill to medium-high heat.
- Combine garlic, chipotle, and 1 tablespoon oil; rub evenly over chicken. Sprinkle with 1/4 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon black pepper. Place on grill rack coated with cooking spray; grill 3 minutes on each side or until done. Remove from grill; keep warm.
- Combine remaining oil, remaining salt, remaining black pepper, and chili powder in a large bowl. Add bell peppers and onion; toss gently to coat. Place vegetables on grill rack; grill 5 minutes on each side or until soft and charred. Place tortillas on grill rack coated with cooking spray; grill 30 seconds on each side or until lightly charred. Remove from grill; keep warm.
- Thinly slice chicken. Divide chicken, bell peppers, onion, and lettuce among tortillas.
Nutrition Facts Per Serving (2 tacos):
Calories: 312; Total fat: 9.8g; Saturated fat: 0.9g; Protein: 29.5g; Total carbohydrate: 27.8g; Cholesterol: 66mg; Sodium: 533mg.
*Recipe Courtesy of Myrecipes.com
Spicy Tuna Wrap
- 2 (5 to 6-ounce cans chunk light tuna, drained
- ⅓ cup low-fat mayonnaise (or try mayonnaise made with olive oil)
- 1 tablespoon hot sauce, such as Sriracha (see Notes)
- 1 scallion, chopped
- 2 cups cooked brown rice (see Tip), cooled
- 2 tablespoons rice vinegar
- 4 10-inch whole-grain wraps
- 3 cups watercress leaves
- 1 ripe avocado, cut into 16 slices
- 1 small carrot, cut into matchsticks
- Reduced-sodium soy sauce for dipping (optional)
- Combine tuna, mayonnaise, hot sauce and scallion in a medium bowl. Combine rice and vinegar in a small bowl.
- Spread one-fourth of the tuna mixture over a wrap. Top with ½ cup rice, ¾ cup watercress, 4 avocado slices and one-fourth of the carrot matchsticks. Roll up and cut the wrap in quarters or in half. Repeat with the remaining filling and wraps. Serve with soy sauce for dipping, if desired.
Tip: To cook brown rice, bring 2 cups water and 1 cup brown rice to a boil in a small saucepan. Reduce heat to low, cover, and simmer at the lowest bubble until the water is absorbed and the rice is tender, about 40 minutes. Remove from the heat and let stand, covered, for 10 minutes. Makes about 2 cups. Or, to save time, prepare 2 cups instant brown rice according to package directions.
Nutrition Facts Per Serving (1 wrap):
Calories: 503; Total fat: 17g; Saturated fat: 4g; Protein: 18g; Total carbohydrate: 71g; Cholesterol: 20mg; Sodium: 860mg.
*Recipe Courtesy of Eatingwell.com
Beef and Broccoli Bowl
- 1 (3 1/2-ounce) bag boil-in-bag long-grain rice
- 1/4 cup lower-sodium soy sauce
- 1 tablespoon cornstarch
- 1 tablespoon hoisin sauce
- 1 (12-ounce) boneless sirloin steak, cut into thin strips
- 2 teaspoons canola oil
- 2 cups broccoli florets
- 1 cup vertically sliced red onion
- 1 cup chopped carrot
- 1/2 cup water
- 2 teaspoons dark sesame oil
- 1/3 cup sliced green onions
- Cook rice according to the package directions.
- Combine soy sauce, cornstarch, and hoisin in a medium bowl. Add beef; toss to coat. Heat a large skillet over high heat. Add oil to pan; swirl to coat. Remove beef, reserving marinade. Add beef to pan; cook 2 minutes or until browned, stirring occasionally. Remove beef from pan. Add broccoli and next 4 ingredients (through sesame oil) to pan; cook 4 minutes or until broccoli is crisp-tender, stirring occasionally. Add reserved marinade to pan; bring to a boil. Cook 1 minute. Add beef to pan; cook 1 minute or until thoroughly heated. Sprinkle with green onions. Serve over rice.
Nutrition Facts Per Serving (1 cup stir-fry and about ½ cup rice):
Calories: 311; Total fat: 9.3g; Saturated fat: 2g; Protein: 23.5g; Total carbohydrate: 32.5g; Cholesterol: 36mg; Sodium: 529mg.
*Courtesy of Myrecipes.com
Tempeh Gyros with Tzatziki (Vegetarian)
- 1 (8-oz.) package tempeh
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1/2 cup water
- 1/4 cup minced yellow onion
- 2 tablespoons reduced-sodium soy sauce or tamari
- 1 teaspoon chopped fresh rosemary
- 1 teaspoon chopped fresh oregano
- 4 garlic cloves, minced and divided
- 1/4 teaspoon black pepper, divided
- 3/4 cup silken tofu (about 6 oz.)
- 1/2 cup peeled and grated English cucumber
- 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
- 1 tablespoon chopped fresh dill
- 1/2 teaspoon white wine vinegar
- 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
- 4 (1.9-oz.) whole-grain flatbread wraps (such as Flatout Flatbread Light Original)
- 1/2 cup vertically sliced red onion
- 1 medium tomato, thinly sliced
- Slice tempeh lengthwise into 8 (1/4-inch-thick) slices.
- Heat oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium. Place tempeh slices in skillet, and cook until golden-brown, 3 to 4 minutes on each side.
- Meanwhile, stir together 1/2 cup water, minced onion, soy sauce, rosemary, oregano, 2 minced garlic cloves, and 1/8 teaspoon black pepper in a small bowl.
- Add soy sauce mixture to tempeh in pan. Cover, and reduce heat to medium-low. Braise tempeh, turning occasionally, until liquid has mostly evaporated and tempeh has absorbed the flavors, about 10 minutes.
- Process silken tofu and remaining 2 garlic cloves in a high-powered blender until smooth. Place in a bowl. Stir in cucumber, lemon juice, dill, vinegar, salt, and remaining 1/8 teaspoon black pepper.
- Divide tempeh evenly among flatbreads, and top each with about 2 tablespoons tzatziki. Divide onion slices and tomatoes evenly among gyros.
Nutrition Facts Per Serving (1 wrap):
Calories: 333; Total fat: 12.8g; Saturated fat: 1.9g; Protein: 22g; Total carbohydrate: 37g; Cholesterol: 0mg; Sodium: 722mg.
*Courtesy of Cookinglight.com
If you are interested to hear more and receive personalized nutrition, check out STYR’s app, fitness tracker and suite of connected smart devices. Through the platform, you can track and log activity, food, hydration, sleep, nutrition, mood and more to personalize your nutrition needs based on data, science and access to registered dietitians, nutritionists and personal trainers.
Please note that this information is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. We insist that you always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health care provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical/health condition or treatment and before initiating a new health care regime. Do not disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on the STYR app or on www.MyNutritioniQ.com.