What you do after your workout is an important part of yielding results, such as muscle gain and weight loss, while reducing muscle soreness. A post-workout routine also helps to maintain optimum energy levels as you restore your vitality, making it easier to stick to your fitness plan.
This article explores the steps to take after a workout to maximize your results. Read on to learn how you can design an effective plan to start the recovery process after you exercise.
1. Get hydrated
Rehydration is essential, especially if you’ve exercised intensely or broken a sweat. Replenishing your fluid levels improves muscle flexibility, builds strength, and prevents muscle soreness.
Drink at least 16 ounces of water or healthy drinks, such as coconut water, green or black tea, and chocolate milk. Or you can choose a low-sugar sports drink. These drinks contain electrolytes, such as potassium and sodium, that can prevent and relieve muscle cramping.
Avoid overly sugary, caffeinated, and alcoholic drinks, which may cause dehydration.
2. Eat a healthy snack
Plan to eat a healthy snack or meal within 45 minutes of completing your workout. This will help replenish muscle energy stores and start the recovery process. Eat foods that contain carbohydrates and protein.
Carbs help to restore glycogen levels so you can recharge your energy levels. Protein aids in muscle recovery and provides amino acids that help to repair and rebuild muscles.
3. Do light exercise on rest days
While your muscles need time to recover after an intense workout, you can still do light exercise on recovery days, such as walking, swimming, or yoga. Engaging in active recovery may help to prevent lactic acid buildup, remove toxins, and boost circulation. Varying your workouts can also help you target different muscle groups and use your muscles in different ways.
4. Don’t forget to cool down
Always finish your workout with a cooldown, which allows your heart rate to gradually return to its normal rate. It also helps to stop blood pooling in the lower extremities, which may make you feel lightheaded or dizzy.
A proper cooldown can also help to relieve stress, prevent muscle soreness, and prevent injury. Consider wrapping it up with a 5-minute savasana to promote overall wellbeing.
5. Prioritize protein
To repair and rebuild muscle, choose meals that contain healthy carbohydrates and high-quality proteins. Protein options that help to build muscle include:
- lean meats
- whey protein
- nuts and seeds
- soy foods
- low-sugar protein bars
6. Choose carbs wisely
Carbs help your muscles to recover while proteins support muscle growth. Carbohydrates to eat after a workout include:
- sweet potatoes
- fresh fruit
- chocolate milk
- whole grain pasta
- whole wheat bread
6. Try a supplement
You can enrich your diet with a protein shake or supplements. Supplements that support muscle growth include:
- protein supplements
- weight gainers
- branched-chain amino acids (BCAAs)
- beta-hydroxy beta-methylbutyrate (HMB)
7. Eat regular meals
Eat regularly and avoid skipping meals, which may hinder the benefits of your workout by causing muscle loss. Building muscle helps to speed up your metabolism, which helps with weight loss.
8. Consider certain foods
To burn fat, select foods that promote weight loss. This includes low-fat dairy products, hot peppers, and whole grains. Protein options include fish high in omega-3 fatty acids, such as salmon, mackerel, and tuna. Or opt for lean meats such as turkey, pork tenderloin, or chicken breast.