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Nutrition & Recovery

Nutrition & Recovery

The important relationship between nutrition, fitness, and recover. What Foods to Eat to Recover Better From Tough Workouts

Beyond fitness: prioritizing essential factors

Often, when people set out to get fit, they focus on fitness only. They become laser-focused on the pursuit of getting stronger, faster, fitter — and allow indispensable factors take a back seat. One of those indispensable factors? Nutrition. Your food choices make or break your ability to recover from workouts and hit the gym harder next time. Read on to find out why.

What to know about nutrition

What to know about nutrition

Food is everything. Nutrition should be the foundation of your health and fitness pursuits, not the cherry on top. What you eat dictates your mood, your sleep quality, your energy levels, your productivity, and so much more.

How nutrition affects workout recovery

How nutrition affects workout recovery

Your day-to-day diet indisputably impacts your body’s ability to perform essential functions, including holistic recovery from workouts.

Good nutrition lowers inflammation

Good nutrition lowers inflammation

As much as exercise is a good thing, it’s still a stressor on your body — especially if you perform high-intensity, high-impact, or long-duration workouts. When you lift heavy weights or run a 10K, your body endures physical stress and hormones like cortisol increase.

You can control whole-body inflammation with your diet, especially if you attune your post-workout nutrition to that purpose. Anti-inflammatory post-workout foods include nutrient-dense carbohydrates, such as sweet potatoes, whole grains like oatmeal, and fruit. A combination of quick-digesting carbs (fruit) and slow-digesting carbs (whole grains) will set your body up for efficient recovery.

Your nutrition is important during more than just the post-workout period, though. Fuel yourself with lean proteins, healthy fats, whole grains, vegetables, fruits, nuts, and seeds to ensure your body is functioning optimally before, during, and after workouts.

Good nutrition helps you sleep

Good nutrition helps you sleep

If you consume a lot of sugar, caffeine, alcohol, and processed foods, you might be sabotaging your sleep. This is a problem when it comes to workout recovery, because sleep quality and duration directly affect how well your muscles recover from exercise.

To enhance your sleep quality, limit foods and beverages that keep you up at night. Eating heavy meals too close to bedtime can ruin sleep by causing indigestion; alcohol may help you fall asleep faster but often causes sleep disturbances; sugar may cause jitters, anxiety-like symptoms, or headaches; and caffeine causes sleeplessness for obvious reasons.

Good nutrition speeds up muscle recovery

Good nutrition speeds up muscle recovery

If you provide your body with the right nutrients, your body will use those to your advantage. Protein, carbohydrates, and fats all serve different but important purposes in the nutrition-fitness continuum. Follow the three “Rs” of workout recovery nutrition: refuel, rehydrate, rebuild. Refuel with carbohydrates, rehydrate with water and electrolytes, and rebuild with protein.

Things to consider

Things to consider

There’s no arguing that good nutrition is critical for fitness and recovery. But, it’s important to realize that stricter isn’t necessarily better. Overly restrictive diets can lead to a strained relationship with food, which may backfire on you later.

Here’s a rule of thumb we find helpful at Ekrin Athletics: Choose mostly whole, nutrient-dense foods that make you feel good and energetic, but allow yourself to enjoy less nutrient-rich foods when the time is right.

Here’s a rule of thumb we find helpful at Ekrin Athletics: Choose mostly whole, nutrient-dense foods that make you feel good and energetic, but allow yourself to enjoy less nutrient-rich foods when the time is right.

Frequently asked questions

  • What should you eat after a workout?

    After a workout, consume ample carbohydrates to replenish lost glycogen stores in your muscles. Dietary protein will help kickstart the muscle repair process by increasing muscle protein synthesis (the process during which muscle cells take up protein to rebuild).

  • What Nutrients Are Most Important For Muscle Recovery?

    When it comes to nutrition for exercise recovery, focus on macronutrients, particularly carbohydrates and protein. Micronutrients are important, too, but if you choose nutrient-dense macronutrient options, you don’t need to put much thought into individual vitamins and minerals (for the express purpose of muscle recovery).

  • Should You Eat Before or After Workouts?

    This depends on personal preference, but ideally, you’ll eat both before and after a workout. Eating before a workout gives your body available energy to draw from during the workout, reducing the likelihood of quick fatigue. After a workout, your body uses calories, protein, and carbohydrates to replenish energy stores.

Learn more about nutrition and exercise recovery

  • 5 Ways to Accelerate Post-Workout Recovery

  • How to Recover Properly from CrossFit Workouts

Keys to recovery

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