Replenishing your body’s energy stores is essential for a healthy and strong recovery after a workout. Neglecting to meet your body’s caloric needs with healthy protein sources, fats, and carbohydrates will leave you feeling wiped out and will slowly deplete your muscles. Today I want to share with you how to best fuel your body after a workout…and be sure to keep reading ’till the end for a delicious and perfectly balanced smoothie recipe that you can use as fuel!
I’ve always been a pretty active person. Growing up I spent a lot of time playing different sports, but focused on soccer, tennis, & cross country running. The cross country was kind of an exercise I enjoyed on my own, as a way to unwind and just think, while soccer and tennis were great for their team aspect and making long and lasting friends.
I had heard people talk about fueling their bodies for the activities they were doing, both pre-workout and post-workout, but at the height of my disordered eating I was fearful of allowing myself anything carb or fat dense. I knew that the calories I burned in the activity needed to be replenished, but all I could allow myself to eat was an apple.
Guys! An apple will definitely NOT suffice in stocking your body’s energy shelves!
Needless to say, with the insufficient calories, fat, carbs, & protein that I fueled myself with, I began to see muscle-loss all over my body. At first, I thought I was just becoming more in-shape. Muscles were looking toned, I hardly had an ounce of fat on my body, & I felt like I could perform well in the sports I was involved in. But your body can only take so much.
What really opened my eyes to my unhealthy state was not being able to find clothes that fit my upper body. I’d lost all muscle in my arms and shoulders, so clothing just draped, formless, over my body.
You’ve heard me say it before, but I was so obsessed with being healthy that I became greatly unhealthy! The way I fueled my body HAD. TO. CHANGE!
It’s amazing that when we listen to our bodies and feed/fuel them intuitively, we don’t get fat.
You hear me?
It is healthy to have muscle and fat and rolls. Our bodies need that supply in order to run, play sports, or just be active in however you find works for you.
So, how can we fuel our bodies well after a strenuous workout?
First off, allow yourself to COOL DOWN. Most people don’t want to chow down on a large meal right after they’ve run in 90 degree weather. So take time to walk, slow your breathing, get your body temperature down by splashing some cool water on your face.
Next, HYDRATE. Drinking water also helps to decrease your body’s temperature and replenishes the fluids you sweated out during your workout. And water is THE MOST IMPORTANT thing you can stock up on after a workout because every body function requires it and you do not have as great a store of water as you do other components.
And now, REFUEL. I’ve found that for most people, 30 minutes to 1 hour after they’ve completed their workout is a pretty good time to replenish their nutritional stores. Before that time, being realistic, you probably won’t be feeling like eating. And past that time, you’re most likely ravenous or your hunger cues have been ignored and are diminishing. So try to plan time to have a nutritious and fueling snack somewhere in that window.
Ok, so what’s most important to include in the REFUEL step?
- Carbohydrates: Aim for including at least some type of complex carbohydrate in your post-workout fuel. This can be in the form of sweet potato, oats, quinoa, fruit, sprouted or whole grain bread, etc.
- Protein: Protein aids in muscle recovery and building. When you exercise, you break down muscle fibers. By fueling with protein post-workout, you’re helping your body out with this process. Ain’t that nice! Include protein sources such as nuts or nut butters, greek yogurt, avocado (high in protein and fat so double whammy!), or a high quality protein powder. For protein powders, be careful…not all protein powders are created equal. I try to stick to a Pea Protein because it’s not as hard on the body’s digestion and secretion.
- Fat: Yes, fat is needed after your workout. Though maybe your mindset while working out is to get rid of fat (though that’s not necessarily the greatest fitness motivation and we’ll talk about that another time), fat is necessary for you to be able to do any form of activity after your workout. You get me? Let’s think about why fat is needed for your body’s functions. Fat is the greatest source of long-lasting energy to your cells. So, without fueling with fat, you’re neglecting your body’s ultimate potential to continue to burn fat and move and breathe and live. Phew, that was a winded sentence, but we’ve got to get away from this “fat phobia” mindset.
One of my favorite ways to refuel after a workout is through a smoothie. I know smoothies aren’t for everyone, but I love them because usually after a long run or weight session I’m rushing out the door to begin my day. Smoothies are able to pack in all the things I need for my post-workout recovery in an easy and portable drink! I also love that they help cool me off and give me a little hydration in the process, too!
Here’s my Post-Workout basic smoothie formula:
Start with frozen fruit of choice. I like switching up what I use pretty frequently, but typical go-to’s are mixed berries and banana.
Next add your protein source (usually in the form of some nuts or protein powder).
Now for your fat. I’ll sometimes use some full fat coconut milk or coconut oil for the flavor and healthy fat and sometimes flax seed or chia seeds, but you can also use nuts or a whole fat yogurt.
Lastly, choose your liquid. My liquid of choice is usually half almond milk, half water (because I’m pretty skimpy about my almond milk so it’ll last me all week, lol).
Alright, that’s how to best fuel your body after a workout! I’d love to hear how you choose to fuel up after you exercise, so be sure to comment below with your thoughts!
Below you’ll also find a recipe for one of my favorite smoothies of late, this Mint Chocolate Chip Protein Smoothie! You’ll find yourself thinking your drinking a mint chocolate chip milkshake. I use AIM’s Barley Life barley green powder for a super concentrated dose of vitamins and minerals (and pretty green color), but you can use spinach, too. Feel free to shop the Barley Life powder and other products HERE and help support Steel & Chiffon.
Mint Chocolate Protein SmoothiePrint Recipe
- 1/2 banana
- 5 ice cubes
- 1 Tbs ground flax seed
- 1 Tbs of Barley Life Powder (see note above) or a handful of spinach
- 1 scoop protein powder
- 1/8 tsp peppermint extract
- 1/2 cup almond milk
- 1 Tbs semi sweet chocolate chips
Blend all ingredients, except for chocolate chips, in high speed blender.
Next throw in chocolate and pulse until just combined.
Serve with additional chocolate chips on top!
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