We’re told that exercise is supposed to leave us energised and full of life, but it’s not at all uncommon to feel exactly the opposite after a workout, especially if your session has been particularly intense or you’re new to hitting the gym.
Exhaustion and achiness simply mean that your body has used up its available energy, and you need to replenish it quickly. A snack that serves as a good source of energy will help to repair the microdamage your muscles sustained during exercise.
It’s important that you don’t skip the snack; if you don’t refuel with the right foods after a workout, you’ll hamper muscle recovery, meaning all your hard work was for nothing!
So, what should that snack be? Well, good news: there is no better post-workout snack than the humble berry! Why? We’ll get to that shortly, but first, let’s have a look at the effect of exercise on your body and why it’s so important that you take the time to help your muscles heal after a heavy gym session.
Why do muscles get so sore?
When you exercise, you contract your muscles in various ways that inevitably lead to soreness. At the same time, your muscles use up all their glycogen stores (the place where carbs are stored) for fuel.
Consequently, because your muscles are deprived of glycogen, the proteins get broken down and damaged, and the muscles become inflamed.
After a workout, your body will try its hardest to replenish its glycogen stores and repair muscle damage. If you eat the right foods within an hour or so after exercising, you’ll help your body perform this crucial function a lot faster than it would on its own.
So, why are berries so good after a workout?
Berries contain polyphenols, a group of plant-based antioxidants that are revered for their ability to protect your cells from damage.
On top of this, polyphenols have a known ability to help reduce muscle pain and reduce inflammation, which makes them an amazing post-workout snack.
But that’s not all! Let’s look at the other ways berries can help:
- Berries contain anthocyanins – flavonoids found in the skin of berries, lending them their rich hue. Anthocyanins are great as they enhance blood flow and reduce muscle inflammation especially after a particularly intense workout.
- Berries also contain complex carbohydrates, which will help your body quickly replenish its energy levels and mend any microdamage done to your muscles.
Sounds good! What’s the best way to enjoy my berries?
You could, of course, just grab a handful from the fridge when you get home, but where’s the fun in that? We can’t think of a better way to get your post-workout berries than a deliciously cold, nutritious smoothie.
This recipe comes courtesy of food guru Ella Woodward – it may be called a breakfast smoothie, but ignore that! This smoothie is perfect for a post-workout boost; it’s bursting with nutritional goodness thanks to seeds, oats and spinach that really up the nutritional impact of this delectable drink.
It may sound fiddly to make, but if you have all the ingredients at hand you can prepare it in mere minutes. Your body will thank you!
THE EASIEST BREAKFAST SMOOTHIE
What you'll need:
- 1 banana
- 1 big handful of spinach
- 2 handfuls of frozen berries (fresh berries are fine…just add a little ice, too)
- 250ml of almond milk
- 3 tablespoons of oats
- 1 tablespoon of hemp powder
- 1 tablespoon of chia seeds
- Optional: 2 medjool dates
To make, simply peel the banana and pit the dates, then pop the lot into your blender and blend until smooth!
How else can I help my body heal after a workout?
“The greatest miracle on Earth is the human body. It is stronger and wiser than you may realize, and improving its ability to self heal is within your control." ~Dr. Fabrizio Mancini
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