6 Things to Do After a Workout for Better Results

Article posted in: Fitness

Regular exercise is one of the most important steps you can take toward your weight loss goal. And we’ve already shared our top pre-workout tips to ensure you optimize your performance. But what you do after a workout has ended significantly impacts how you feel in the next few hours and days and plays a critical role in the results you gain from exercising. “Recovery is often overlooked as part of the process, says Christian Fassbender, certified strength and conditioning coach and a personal trainer. “While most people think of recovery as an inactive period, there should absolutely be an active component.” Here are the six ways to get the max benefits after you exercise:

1. Cool down.

“Delayed onset muscle soreness” is what pros like Fassbender call the extreme soreness that may not start for up to 24 hours after exercising, and it’s especially common among people who are starting a new exercise routine. It can last several days and make it harder to exercise again soon. To prevent this soreness, Fassbender recommends that every workout end with a slow walk, light bike riding, dynamic stretching or foam rolling. These strategies promote blood flow that will flush out muscles and begin repairing them.

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2. Drink more.

Hydrating after intense exercise replenishes fluids lost from sweating. A simple way to determine exactly how much water you need after exercise is to weigh yourself before and after. For every pound lost, replace it with 16 to 20 ounces of fluids. (Don’t worry, the fluid weight won’t stick.) Water is best, Fassbender says, warning that “most sports drinks are high in sugar” and calories.

3. Eat balanced.

“After you work out, your muscles experience a heightened sensitivity to insulin,” Fassbender says. The key to healthy refueling after exercise is to consume a snack or a meal that has a four-to-one ratio of protein to complex carbs about 30 minutes to an hour from when you finish. Protein plays a vital role in the muscle rebuilding process, carbs help replenish the glycogen your muscles burned while they were working. Believe or not, “chocolate milk can be a good recovery food in a pinch,” Fassbender says. A chocolate Nutrisystem shake sets you up for a great start with 15 grams of protein, so get creative.

4. Add antioxidants.

Exercise releases free radicals, destructive molecules in our bodies that need to be kept in check. Antioxidants are essential nutrients that counteract free radicals. After working out, eat antioxidant-rich foods such as blueberries, red grapes, peppers, kale or pecans, Fassbender says, to neutralize the free radicals and help restore your immune system after the stresses of exercise.

5. Get spicy.

Add flavor to your food and help your post-workout recovery with cinnamon, ginger, turmeric and garlic. These seasonings have anti-inflammatory properties that help your body soothe the strain that you put on it, Fassbender says.

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6. Sleep plenty.

Of course, resting tired muscles is important, but while you sleep your body actively rebuilds the muscles strained by exertion and insulin is helping to remove fats from your system rather than store it. If you don’t get sufficient sleep after exercising, your body begins to store fat rather than burn it, the opposite of what you hope to do when you exercise. You need eight to nine hours of sleep every night, Fassbender says, but it’s especially critical the night of any day you workout. Best of all, after a good day of making progress toward your weight-loss goal, you’re sure to have pleasant dreams.

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