Getting your workout in before you go to work is great, but making sure you get the right nutrients after is just as important to having a successful routine. With your workout out of the way and your metabolism revved up, you are on the right path to success, but if you aren’t thinking about your recovery strategy, then you are probably not hitting your goals as quickly and efficiently as possible.
The majority of people work in an office, which is a good thing because you have a better chance of making a full recovery due to the ability to rest for the remainder of the day. People with more active jobs might find it more difficult to recuperate from an intense workout. This is especially good for people who do high intensity workouts. (On a side note, making sure you move around during the day is also important, so make sure you are getting up and walking around throughout the day.)
No matter where you are doing your recovery though, having the right nutrients is vital to providing your muscles the appropriate tools to repair and rebuild. Here are a few suggestions on how to make sure that you are giving your body everything it needs.
Immediately after your workout, your muscles are the most sensitive to the nutrients that it receives. If you are not eating or drinking after you train, it will slow down the process of recovery, leaving your muscles broken down for a longer period of time.
When you are done with your workout, simple carbs and high quality proteins are the best fuel. Have a simple meal or shake that has somewhere around 10 to 20 grams of protein, anywhere within 30 min to an hour after you are finished. Make sure to have your snack ready when you are done so that you can have it on your drive to work. If you are eating an energy bar, make sure that it is not just a glorified candy bar, which many of them are. Choose one with low sugar content, and high protein.
Choose a complex carb and some quality lean protein for this meal. Choosing something that is low in fat is the best, because you are still in the anabolic stage. (This is where your body is gaining energy for growth and maintenance. In the catabolic state, your body is actually providing the energy itself.) Try to eat something like quinoa, which is a perfect protein, or some kind of oatmeal or fat free Greek yogurt. Grab some berries or a banana if you want something little sweeter.
This is also a great time to get some stretching in. Keeping your metabolism going and you boy active with provide blood flow and keep your muscles loose. This will also help with reducing soreness the following day.
For lunch, try something a little lighter, but you will want to include all three of the macronutrients, fat, carbs, and protein. This will keep your blood sugar stabilized. If you are looking for fat loss, taking away the complex carbs is ok, and you can have healthy fats, proteins and veggies for the remainder of your meals. Have something like grilled chicken,fresh veggies, or quinoa. If you want to go leaner, have something like salmon and spinach. You can have some fresh fruit as desert.
This is where it gets a little tough. By this time your energy is a little lower and we have the urge to reach for that coffee. Caffeine is NOT a real substitute for energy, so put down the late, close the bag of Doritos, and grab something of substance like almond butter and celery. Just like all the other meals, protein is always a great choice. If you haven’t eaten carbs in all of your previous meals, you can have some fruit like an apple or banana. If you have, grab some healthy fats like nuts or avocados. Almonds are always a good choice, just make sure not to eat too many, as the calories can add up quickly.
Even if you have been good all day, and all you want to do is lay on the couch and eat pizza, try and resist the urge. Having something healthy for the last meal of your day is important. Earlier in the week, try and take into account that you may be tired and not want to cook. Try and have some easy precooked meals ready to go. With no prep needed, and an easy cleanup, there is no excuse to not eat healthy.
Follow up your meal with a simple but healthy snack if you are still hungry before bed, but make sure to give yourself a little time to digest before you go to sleep.
Always remember that having a healthy lifestyle does not only consist of a regular workout routine. Diet is a major portion, and with a poor diet, not only will you not see the results you want, but you will be counteracting your hard work in the gym. Don’t cheat yourself in the recovery process. If you eat right, you will recover properly, making it easier for you to hit your fitness goals.