Fuel your recovery right with optimal post-exercise nutrition - by Michelle Reed

It is easy to dismiss recovery and take it for granted, but why would you cheat yourself of the opportunity to support your health and improve your overall performance?

They say implementing daily recovery strategies are just as important as training – and rightly so. Recovery is an important break between training sessions for your body to keep up with the physical and mental demands of training and life.

Symptoms associated with a lack of recovery are becoming more and more evident in athletes of any sporting background. These debilitating symptoms can range from chronic fatigue, fibromyalgia, a general loss of power, frequent illness, hormonal and gut issues, and cognitive concerns such as depression. Health issues such as these gradually become more prominent and can be the defining factor behind choosing between your wellbeing or doing what you love.

Recovery is it not merely about doing an ‘easy’ coffee ride. Even when an athlete is in good health, daily nutrition and individualised relaxation techniques are key to speeding up recovery times.

Due to higher post-workout body temperatures, blood is diverted away from the stomach, making digestion sluggish. As it is important for protein synthesis to occur as soon as possible after a workout, consuming a nutrient-rich meal, such as a smoothie, in the first 30-45 minutes post-workout and a substantial meal an hour or so later is easier on the digestion and allows the body to process and absorb what it requires.

Fuelling your recovery with quality protein (aim for at least 20g) and carbohydrates, and anti-inflammatory foods rich in colour (omega-3 fatty acids and herbs are helpful), is of utmost importance to repair broken down tissue, replace nutrients, attenuate muscle soreness and support immunity to prevent recurring illness. Foods rich in potassium and magnesium will help regulate fluid balance in the body, lower blood pressure and are necessary for nerve and muscle contraction.

Too many athletes rely heavily on packaged sports foods and shakes marketed as ‘high-protein and rich in nutrients’. However, these are often highly processed and filled with artificial ingredients and sweeteners. Real foods supply the body with readily bioavailable vitamins and minerals, needed to regenerate and maintain bodily functions, which cannot be duplicated in a lab. Smoothies are portable, and therefore convenient to take along to a training session. This becomes even more important when you are doing double or even triple workouts in a day.

Below are recipe examples for two smoothies and a post-workout meal with a fresh juice to aid regeneration of muscle tissue. They are loaded with nutrients necessary for molecular protection and energy production.

Green smoothie

Ingredients (provides 2 servings) 

1 scoop of whey isolate/vegan protein powder (plain flavor)green smoothie
1 banana (fresh or frozen)
1 orange (peeled)
1 chunk of fresh ginger
1 handful of baby spinach
8 fresh mint leaves
1/2 cup of pineapple
250ml of filtered water 
5g L-glutamine powder
3 ice-cubes

Method: blend ingredients together and enjoy. 

Berry Smoothie

Ingredients (provides 2 servings)

Red Smoothie 2

  •  1 scoop of whey isolate/vegan protein powder (plain flavour) 
  •  1 banana 250ml of filtered water
  •  1 handful of frozen mixed berries
  •  1 tbsp of cacao nibs
  •  2 tsp of maca powder
  •  2 tsp of cacao powder
  •  Method: blend ingredients and enjoy.

Mixed bean salad and hydrating watermelon slushy 

Ingredients for the salad (provides 1 serving)
  • 2 boiled eggs (on the side) 
  • 1-2 slices of bread (ciabatta, rye, seed loaf, sourdough)
  • ¾ can of mixed beans
  • 8 cherry tomatoes
  • 1 handful of fresh parsley
  • 1 handful of walnuts
  • 1 tbsp of apple cider vinegar
  • 2 tbsp of extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 tsp of pumpkin seed oil
  • Salt and pepper to taste



Ingredients for watermelon slushy (provides 4 servings)

Slush 4

  •    Large pieces of watermelon
       1 large chunk of ginger
  •    Handful of mint
  •    2 whole limes
  •    Filtered water
  •    Handful of ice cubes
  •    Method: blend ingredients and enjoy.



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