What you do after you return home from the gym matters just as much as what you did before you left. That’s because the post-workout recovery period is the time when your body builds up lean muscle mass. If you shortchange yourself, you could wind up gaining weight and lowering your performance level. Ensure your workouts deliver the results you want. Follow this checklist for what to do after you exercise to encourage maximum rest and restoration.
1. Have a snack. After you exercise, your body needs to replace its glycogen stores, so your muscles can grow. Many studies confirm that eating within an hour of working out helps this process along, so plan for a healthy snack that includes proteins, carbohydrates, and a little healthy fat.
2. Spread out your protein. Protein is digested more efficiently if you consume small amounts throughout the day. Start with breakfast foods like eggs and quinoa, and finish up with a light evening snack like a glass of skim milk.
3. Replace potassium. Perspiring tends to deplete your potassium stores. Catch up on this important material by eating foods like bananas and potatoes.
4. Consume more vitamin D. Many adults have vitamin D deficiencies that can slow down recovery. You can increase your levels with dairy products and vitamin D enriched products like cereal and bread, as well as a little daily sun exposure.
5. Drink water. Hydration is another essential. Extreme athletes may need sports drinks with electrolytes, but plain water is ideal for most adults.
6. Limit alcohol. On the other hand, liquor can impede your recovery by dehydrating you further. Wait a few hours before imbibing, and limit alcohol to one or two servings a day.
Consult your doctor if you have more serious symptoms that you need to discuss. Adequate rest and recovery make your workouts more effective. Plan ahead so you can give your body the nutrients and care it needs to grow strong and healthy.