Mary Ellen Kelly, Sports R.D.
Optimizing Muscle Recovery
How are you feeling? No matter who you are and what you have been up, there is no doubt that COVID-19 has disrupted the routine.
How’s it going for YOU?
While this pandemic has created an immeasurable amount of stress for many people, some have found themselves with more time to exercise and to train during this unprecedented time.
Whether it is getting outside and going for a run, a walk, a bike ride, or a hike, or dialing in your home workout routine, have you found time to optimize your body’s ability to recover from your exercise of choice?
Prioritizing recovery can help you feel better after a workout and set you up for a better workout the next time. There are so many strategies to employ in an effort to optimize recovery. You can focus on your sleep duration and your overall sleep quality.
You can incorporate a cool down routine, more stretching, or add in various recovery modalities. Now, for a few minutes, let’s talk about recovery nutrition.
Let’s talk about how your fueling strategies can help you get the most out of your workouts and leave you feeling refreshed, instead of discouragingly sore, or too tired to string together consecutive days of working out.
No matter what form of physical activity you choose to do, exercise creates muscle breakdown. At first glance, that may sound like a bad thing, but it can actually be a very positive and necessary process to help you reach your goals.
How to Recover BETTER
The trick is to re-hydrate and re-fuel our bodies to obtain the benefits of your workouts and feel better and stronger from day to day. So how do we do that? Here are some general recommendations that may be helpful:
- As soon as you are done with your exercise or your training, try to consume fluid, electrolytes, carbohydrates and protein. See if you can get a snack or a shake in within 30-60 minutes of completing your physical activity.
- Within 2 hours of training, incorporate a well-balanced meal, including protein, carbohydrates and vegetables.
Immediately After Exercise
For that quick recovery, consider a smoothie or chocolate milk. Did you know that chocolate milk contains an excellent carb to protein ratio (3:1) to help with muscle recovery after exercise? Want a smoothie recipe instead?
Play around with something like this… almond milk, Greek yogurt, frozen berries, spinach, chia seeds and ground flaxseeds to get that recovery process off to a solid start!
Post-Workout Meal Suggestion
Now, for that well-balanced meal… to get the most out of your meal, vary your vegetables- anything from asparagus to zucchini and opt for high quality carbohydrates, such as potatoes or sweet potatoes, brown rice, or quinoa.
Pair with a lean protein (fish, chicken, tofu, lean beef…) and your muscles will say “Thank You!”. Now, how can we do this in a simple and quick way? Watch North Coast Seafood’s Chef Andrew Wilkinson break down how to easily pan sear salmon.
Add this salmon to a colorful salad with mixed greens, beets, bell peppers, quinoa and vinaigrette dressing and allow your muscles to take full advantage of this “Performance Plate”!
The salmon is an excellent source of lean protein and omega-3 fatty acids and the vegetables offer vitamins, minerals and antioxidants to help reduce inflammation. The quinoa is a naturally non-gluten containing carbohydrate source that offers some additional protein as well.
Once you have mastered Chef Andrew’s salmon suggestion, consider this Crispy Parmesan Baked Cod as another excellent lean protein source to include in your recovery nutrition fueling strategy.
If you can commit a little bit of time to the kitchen after your training, your muscles are sure to feel the difference.