Melissa Kazan is a Registered Dietitian and Sport Nutritionist specializing in nutrition for health, well-being and sports performance. Melissa understands today's challenges to eating well, and works with her clients to set realistic health & sport performance goals. For more information on Melissa, and her services, click here.
A complete recovery meal or snack should always be a combination of: carbohydrates to replenish muscle glycogen stores, proteins for tissue repair, and antioxidants to help alleviate inflammation associated with exercise. Whole wheat lasagna or pasta, with a lentils or red-meat tomato sauce, is a perfect meal example – Don’t forget your side salad! If you’re opting for a snack, try cottage cheese mixed with apple sauce & cinnamon on a slice of toast, or yogurt with granola and berries (Choose Greek yogurt to double the protein!)
What about hydration? Studies show that exercising while dehydrated can negatively impact endurance performance. Keep a water bottle accessible to you, in your locker, car or gym bag to serve as reminder to drink.
Timing is everything
If you want to maximize your next training session, aim to fuel immediately after your run/walk. The longer you wait to refuel, the slower your muscles are at recovering.
Training in the evening? Plan to have some leftovers to avoid having coming home and spending your stretching time cooking dinner. Slice up leftover steak to make a sandwich, or sauté leftover pasta with fried eggs, cheese, tomatoes and spinach.
If you’re not having a meal right away, plan to have a snack. Easy portable recovery snacks can be soy milk with banana, trail mix with your favorite nuts and dried fruits, or skim-milk powder mixed in with water and a homemade muffin.
Skip on the Alcohol
Alcohol doesn’t bring much nutrition to your body, and when consumed during the recovery period it has been shown to reduce muscle recovery and training adaptation (i.e. your ability to become a better runner.) Going out for a beer after training? Have a meal first to prioritize refueling with food, or opt to have it on a rest day.