Muscle Recovery: A Complete Guide

by Jackie Wicks

Ideal Recovery Foods

Yellowfin Tuna pod swimming
Your post-workout recovery food should contain both carbohydrates and protein most importantly. Fat is also important, but to a lesser degree than carbs and protein, both of which get depleted during exercise. This can be done with either real food or supplements. Some examples of recovery foods and supplements are:

  • Fruit and jerky
  • A protein shake with some oatmeal
  • A tuna sandwich

Many people turn to bars as a recovery food, but a lot of caution must be exercised. In an attempt to make a bar which tastes nice, most manufacturers load them up with fat and skimp on protein. As a result, they do little to promote muscle growth or fat burning post-exercise. If you do opt for a bar, make sure that the protein content is at least double the fat content. For example, 20 grams protein, 10 grams fat.

When taking supplements after a workout, it can be easy to overdue it. Getting calories through supplements in addition to your normal diet may not be necessary if your training is not that intense. However, not getting enough calories is as bad as getting too many. Muscle recovery and strength gains will be hampered if you don’t get enough total calories, no matter how much protein you eat.

Consuming too few calories also sets your body up for overtraining. Despite its name, overtraining is most frequently caused not by too much training but instead by too little nutrition. Not consuming enough calories will keep catabolic hormones like cortisol high while suppressing anabolic ones like insulin.

If you are exercising with the goal of losing weight, make sure to consume no fewer than 10 — 20% of your normal caloric goal. For example, if your resting metabolic rate was 1,400 calories daily, and you exercised for 600 additional calories, your total caloric needs for that day would be 2,000 calories.

In order to maximally support both strength gain and fat burning, you should consume at least 1,600 — 1,800 calories during that day, otherwise your body will increasingly use your muscle as a fuel and fat loss will be hurt.

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