Posted: Sep 26, 2016
Healthy eating after you exercise, especially after intense exercise or an event, is important to replace the energy, fluids, salts (electrolytes) and carbohydrates that are lost or burned. Well-chosen and well-times meals and snacks can help your body recover, adapt and perform its best. Including protein in your diet helps your body to stimulate muscle growth.
Steps you can take
Who needs a recovery meal or snack?
You may need to eat for recovery if:
Eating after exercise is less important if your exercise is lower intensity, like walking or easy cycling.
Recovery meal and snack ideas to try:
- Greek-style yogurt with low-fat granola
- whole grain cereal or oatmeal with low-fat milk or fortified soy beverage
- whole grain pita with tuna and low-fat mayonnaise
- a medium-sized baked potato with lean steak or grilled tofu and a side salad
- grilled or roasted chicken on a whole wheat tortilla with lower-fat cheese and mixed raw vegetables
- brown rice or quinoa with grilled fish and steamed vegetables
- smoothie made with silken tofu or Greek-style yogurt, soy beverage or low-fat milk, banana, and mixed berries.
What if I train or compete more than once a day?
Recovery nutrition becomes very important if you train or compete more than once a day. Examples include a swim meet, rowing regatta, hockey or soccer tournament. To speed up recovery, eat a snack within the first 30 minutes of finishing each session or competition, and continue to eat every 2 hours until your next event. The size and make-up of your meal or snack should depend on when your next session or event starts. In general:
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- Choose smaller meals and snacks that are easy to digest if you don’t have much time until your next event. Eating lightly will speed digestion, can prevent an upset stomach and will help you to refuel quickly for your next event without feeling too full. Good options include bananas, soda crackers, raisins, bagels or a sports drink.
- Choose a balanced meal or snack that includes protein and carbohydrates if you have more than an hour before your next session or event. Including both protein and carbohydrates will help with muscle repair, blood glucose (sugar) control, and help you feel satisfied. Keep fat and fibre low as they tend to digest slowly and can cause an upset stomach during exercise. See the recovery meal and snack ideas above for suggestions.
- Drink fluids to rehydrate. While water is an excellent choice for hydration, you may wish to use a sports drink that provides carbohydrates and electrolytes (salts) between training or events. Sports drinks can be especially important if you sweat a lot, have a salty sweat (white powder on your skin and clothes is a sign), it is hot or humid outside, or if you don’t have enough time to eat.
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