After strength training reps, and your muscles are burning. You’re covered in sweat and ready to unwind from an epic workout. Don’t switch off your fitness mindset, yet. There’s one last step to make sure your body recovers: a post-workout drink.
The window of time right after a workout is critical, because you’ve lost a lot of fluid in the form of sweat. It’s also when your muscles crave the nutrients they lost during the workout.
Drinking a nutritious, balanced post-workout drink prevents long-lasting muscle soreness, tension and overall physical fatigue. You probably want to return to work, errands, or family responsibilities after your workout, so you don’t have time for a long rest. It’s important to choose a drink that can help you bounce back.
Drinking liquids reduces swelling. It also improves the functioning of your vital systems and mental performance. It can prevent overeating, because our bodies can also confuse thirst for hunger. Here are some of the most important nutrients for a post workout drink and the best way to include them into your routine.
Water doesn’t always cut it
For optimal muscle recovery and electrolyte replacement, water only goes so far. Your body craves something more nutritious, and water doesn’t respond to the subtle signals your body sends you after a workout. This can make water taste bland and unappealing as a post-workout drink.
When you sweat, you not only lose fluids, you lose sodium and other electrolytes which are important for physical performance. They help regulate the water pressure inside and outside your cells, which keeps all of your nerve and cell functions. Adding electrolyte supplements to your water can boost the hydration benefits of water.
Drinks with electrolytes are important for rehydration
Electrolytes like sodium, calcium, potassium, and magnesium are great for ensuring healthy muscles and physical performance after a workout. Many different drinks contain electrolytes: sports drinks, milk, and orange juice. These all have varying advantages and disadvantages.
Sports drinks like Gatorade deliver a good balance of nutrition and electrolytes, but they contain high amounts of added sugar and unnatural dyes and preservatives. For people with diabetes or anyone else wanting to avoid sugar, they’re not the best choice.
Milk is great as it contains an excellent balance of vitamins, minerals and electrolytes along with some protein, but not everyone can drink milk without complications. Lactose intolerance, a vegan diet, and avoiding added hormones are just a few reasons people avoid milk, so it isn’t for everyone.
Fresh orange juice is high in natural sugar and it is not available year round.
These drinks aren’t always easy to access, right after a workout, unless you’re at home or near a market. When you don’t have much time to prepare a special beverage after your workout, you’ll probably need something more convenient.
Hydration supplements are an easy way to transform a bottle of water into an electrolyte and nutrient replacement drink. Our hydration tablets dissolve in water, and they come in a convenient pack you can slip into a purse, pocket, or gym bag.
Add muscle recovery supplements for better performance
To go one step beyond electrolyte replacement, it’s also important to choose a supplement which can help your muscle repair and recovery after a workout. When we workout, our bodies break down muscle protein, and during our resting periods, we need to ensure we have enough amino acids in our diet to help our bodies with muscle repair and growth.
BCAA stands for “branched chain amino acids,” which include three of the nine essential amino acids which aren’t produced within our body: leucine, isoleucine and valine. Our body uses these amino acids to make the protein comprising our muscle tissue. The atomic configuration of “branched” amino acids is non-linear, and this unique structure makes them vital for muscle growth and retention.
You can supplement your diet with BCAAs any time, but adding them to a post workout drink ensures they’ll reach the body at the right time, when muscle repair starts.
Get more from your post workout drink
Here are a few more vitamins and minerals with targeted athletic benefits which we include in our sports recovery tablets.
Beetroot benefits for athletes
Beetroot juice contains nitric oxide (NO), which helps with cardiorespiratory endurance for better athletic performance. Studies show that beetroot can improve athletic efficiency, performance, stamina (a lowered time to exhaustion), and it may improve cardiorespiratory performance in high intensity workouts.
B complex vitamins are found in a variety of food sources from beans to fish. They are also found in many fruits and vegetables, but many people lack these essential vitamins. For instance, up to 26% of the population has a B12 deficiency.
B vitamins are associated with improving energy and ensuring optimal cell and muscle performance. Here are some of their main functions in the body:
- Vitamin B1 ( thiamin ) - Cell growth and functioning and muscle coordination
- Vitamin B2 ( riboflavin ) - Breaks down fat and increases energy.
- Vitamin B3 ( niacin ) - Converts nutrients into energy, creates healthy fat, repairs DNA, and cleanses the body of toxins.
- Vitamin B6 ( pyridoxine ) - Helps the body break down proteins, carbohydrates, and fats, while supporting brain health and immunity.
- Vitamin B9 ( folic acid ) - Improves red blood cell functioning and generates DNA and RNA.
- Vitamin B12 ( cobalamin ) - Supports healthy brain and cell functioning.
People on restrictive diets as well as athletes, vegetarians, and vegans should consider supplementing B vitamins to improve energy and support healthy muscle recovery after a workout.
Iron helps our red blood cells transport oxygen throughout our bodies, so it’s obviously important for athletes. People become iron deficient either when they don’t have enough iron in their diets or their body struggles to synthesize the iron they consume. Iron is not only helpful for physical performance, it also contributes to cognitive functioning and cell health.