Recovery - Build muscle after your workout and get stronger
So you've finished your workout and you are happy with your results and now you're done right? That is not the case, in fact the most important part of your workout is after you've lifted your weights or finished your cardio. Your body is an amazing and efficient machine but it needs fuel to make sure everything is running optimally. After you've finished your workout, you need to make sure you fuel your body so proper recovery can happen.
When you workout you put your body through a lot of trauma. Like after having surgery your body is not used to exerting itself and measures need to be taken to ensure you recover and enhance muscle growth and fat loss. Believe it or not, you put your body through the same trauma as if someone cut into you so it is very important you give the body what it needs to ensure you can recover, grow and return to the next workout.
Directly After the Workout
After any time of physical activity your body will take its current nutrients and use them so you can push yourself to the max. To ensure maximum recovery, you need to supply your body with these same things so your body can begin to recover from the muscle tears and the elevated heart rate that your body just went though. It is absolutely important to take a source of protein and simple carbs as soon as your workout is completed---you have a window of an hour to do this, and the sooner the better. This can be done easily by preparing a protein shake before your workout. You can make the shake by adding water to it and drink the entire thing as you are leaving the gym. Also it is a good idea to bring something like an apple or banana with you to replenish your carbs to jump start the recovery process. These are simple carbs and your body will burn them fast but it provides a nice jump start before you can get a proper meal in.
When you get home it is then a good idea to prepare a wholesome meal with plenty of protein and carbs to further augment the healing properties after your workout. Eating whole foods such as chicken, beef, or fish is the best way to get the body the protein it needs. Also you should include a slow moving complex carb such as brown rice, quinoa, yams, winter squash or whole wheat spaghetti/pasta so your body continues to recover for hours after your workout. Vegetables are another important component to the recovery process. Dark leafy green vegetables such as kale, chard and collard provide a number of minerals such as magnesium, potassium, and phosphorus as well as B-complex vitamins and anti-oxdiants that complement the proteins you eat with adequate fiber and countless numbers of other yet identified phyto-nutrients that round off your health and feed your mitochondria (the all important energy center of your cells!)
Remember, even if you are trying to lose weight, these steps are very important in the recovery of your body. If your body does not recover fully from an intense workout then you will not have the ability to continue having workouts at the same intensity. Food is the building block of life and must be eaten regularly to make sure your body operates at peak performance. Skipping this vital step after work outs will set you up for catabolism---losing lean muscle mass and will run totally contrary to your goals!
Another very important aspect to the recovery of your body is getting rest. Your body cannot function properly if it is constantly running itself down. In the world we live in today, we are expected to be on the go all the time. This could not be worse for your body, especially after a very intense workout. You need your body to be able to rest so that your bodily functions can maximize the recovery process. The recommended amount of minimum sleep is 6 hours but in reality for your body to fully recover, you need to make sure you are getting 7-8 hours of uninterrupted sleep. Your body will use the sleep to your advantage and focus only on recovery. With a decreased heart-rate, the body can focus on sending those much needed protein peptides to your muscles which will help relieve the ripping but will also make you feel a lot better as you will not feel the soreness as intensely as you would otherwise. Some need even more sleep depending other stress factors in their life and degree of training intensity. I personally sleep at least 9 hours!
There are a number of products that can aid in helping your body recover from your workouts. The most important is an everyday multi-vitamin such as: Animal Pak. Multi-vitamins are a way to get your body all the nutrients they need and many of which will aid in the recovery of your body and act as important co-factors for growth. Also using creatine during or after your workout can aid by increasing volume of fuilds to muscle tissue which can greatly improve the movement of nutrients to your muscles. Another recommended supplement is ZMA. This supplement is power packed with magnesium and zinc which asssist over 350 enzymes in your body in its daily activities of function, repaiar and regeneration. Remember that the recovery process of your body is just as important as the actual working out of your body. Without proper recovery your muscles will not grow, you will not lose weight, and you will feel awful because of constant soreness with little to no results to show for it.