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Sports Nutrition - Post-Workout Recipes and Guidelines

Yuri Elkaim, BPHE, CK, RHN

 

After you workout or finish a game, there is a 30-45 minute "sports nutrition" window of opportunity to refuel your body. The problem is that most people either don't eat or drink anything after their workout or training session or they simply wait too long. Either scenario can be detrimental to your recovery and subsequent sport performance.

The key nutrients you need to get back in your body after physical exertion are the following (in order of importance):

  • water
  • simple sugars and electrolytes
  • complex sugars
  • amino acids
  • healthy fats

When I work with my soccer players from the University of Toronto, I insist that they walk off the field drinking both an entire water bottle and sports drink. Until they do so, they are not allowed off the field. This makes a huge difference, especially for athletes who training 4-5 times per week with 1 or 2 competitions. At the highest levels of sport, it isn't about your training as much as it is about your recovery.

To maximize your recovery, proper sports nutrition practices need to be in place.

 

Water

During a workout or sporting event, you lose tons of water is lost through sweat. You need to get all that back in your body as soon as finish. Think about a minimum of 500 ml of water. If it's hot, then double that amount. A more technical method is to note the difference between your pre- and post-exercise weight (in kg) and that is how many liters of water you should drink to make it up. If you lost 1 kg, then drink 1L of water.

 

Simple Sugars and Electrolytes

Sugars are what our body uses to fuel movement and exertion. After a workout, training session, or game, you need to get these simple sugars back in your system immediately. This is truly where the 30-45 minute window of opportunity needs to be remembered. The quicker you get these sugars into your body, the more fully your body can replenish its glycogen stores.

Think of a sports drink, fruit juice, fresh-pressed juice, or smoothie for this post-exercise meal/drink. These are particularly important if you've lost a lot sweat , and thus electrolytes. Sodium, potassium, and chloride are the most common electrolytes that we lose in our sweat. Proper fluid replenishment will help ensure these electrolytes are restored. It's important to remember that in hot conditions you don't just want to drink water. By drinking endless amounts of water, without replacing these electrolytes, you simply dilute your bodily fluids and run the risk of developing hyponatremia.

So in conditions of heat and intense exercise lasting longer than 1 hour, be sure to replace your water, simple sugars, and electrolytes.

Here are a few of my favourite post-workout and sport nutrition recipes:

 

Natural Sports Drink

500 ml water
Juice of 1/2 lemon
Juice of 1/2 lime
3-4 tsbp of maple syrup
1 tbsp of sea salt

Mix all ingredients together and enjoy. This is an amazing tasting sports drink. You'll need to turn those artificially-coloured commercial brands ever again.

 

Green Juice

4-6 leaves of kale
2-3 leaves of swiss chard
1/2 lemon
1 apple
1 carrot
2-3 stalks of celery
1/4 of cucumber

Juice al of these through a juicer and enjoy the massive nutrition this juice will provide. Water, simple sugars, amino acids, electrolytes, and tremendous alkalinity which is another important element to helping you recover faster!

 

Exercising Until Late at Night?

Watch this video for more helpful sports nutrition tips for late at night:

 

 

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