Many of you reading this hopefully understand the importance of recovery after exercise. To quickly summarize it, a training provides the stimulus, an acute stress, to which the body adapts. That is if you provide the body with all it needs to adapt.
The adaptation process happens during recovery. For example, if you keep training without adequate recovery, you will find out that your body will go the other way, which I doubt you want 😉
There are several things you want to achieve with the post-workout nutrition:
- Kick-start a recovery process.
- Refuel yourself for energy.
- Provide the body with nutrients it needs to repair itself and help it recover. Hence the name.
- Rehydrate yourself.
I will post an article on recovery as a whole another time. Now, I am bringing you a piece of the puzzle by sharing with you my latest recovery drink that I use after my workouts. The recovery drink is not any miracle but it will give you a slight edge if you have the basics (sleep, nutrition, chronic stress) mastered and use it to supplement your active lifestyle. However, it is so delicious that you can drink it anytime, no harm done.
This is one of my recent inventions that I use after my running workouts but you can use it to start your day as well.
- 15 g Chia seeds pre-soaked
- 100g g Banana ripe
- 100g g Blueberries frozen or fresh
- 250 ml Chamomile Tea
- 1 tsp Turmeric root or powder
- 1 tsp Ginger root or powder
- 1/8 tsp Black Pepper ground
- 10 g Protein powder
Pre-soak chia seeds for at least 10 minutes
Mix all the ingredients together. You can blend them in a blender or you can just cut the banana into pieces, mash it, and add blueberries and spices. The more you process it, the faster the absorption will be.
Optionaly, you can also add the soaked chia seeds and blend it altogether.
Now, let’s elaborate why I chose those ingredients.
Ordinary people use water, milk or a soy milk, but we are not ordinary people so we don’t want to miss the opportunity to boost the recovery drink with something that will enable your body to adapt by its antioxidants content, better nutrition profile, or by providing something “more”.
That is why I believe a herbal tea is a great choice as the liquid base.
Chamomile has been used in a traditional medicine for centuries and you many know it for its calming effect. (1) Many people drink it before sleep as it helps with melatonin production. Besides that, it is widely available and relatively cheap supplement that has a proven track record of its benefits.
The reason I choose camomile tea is thanks to its properties. It is anti-inflammatory (1) (2), and has a calming effect on the nervous system (although studies are not conclusive and based on animal models) and muscle spasms (4). I believe that after a grueling workout, your body deserves to calm down, especially if you workout daily, or double a day. On top of that, Chamomile is an antidepressant. (1) (2) (3)
Contraindications: Allergies, pregnancy.
Ginger, Curcuma and Black Pepper
These three spices together work very well and have been used in Indian kitchen and ayurvedic medicine for a long time. These antioxidants rich spices add a bit of spice and will give you an extra edge in recovery.
While you want the inflammation and acute stress to happen (exercise adaptation), supporting your body with compounds that reduce it help you train more. Over a long period of time, the reduced recovery time adds up little by little!
Ginger and turmeric work well to reduce oxidative stress and fight inflammation. (6) (7) (10)
Did you know that elemene derived from turmeric is approved in China for the treatment of cancer? (7)
When you combine it with ground black pepper, you boost its absorption by up to 2000%! Peperine helps by suppressing the detoxification processes in the liver and improves the bioavailability of curcumin. (8)
On top of that, ginger has been shown to mildly suppress delayed onset muscle soreness. (9) (12) (13)
Fruit – Banana and Blueberries
Blueberries are a kind of superfruit! They are a very good source of vit. K (32% DV), vit. C (19% DV), and manganese (25% DV), they a have low GI, provide a number of phytochemicals and antioxidants. Blueberries have also been shown to provide a cognitive boost at only 30g dose a day! (10)
Bananas, while sweet, are also a low to high GI food (the riper it is the higher the sugar content and GI) which has been super popular in endurance sports for its taste and nutrition profile. We are speaking mainly about potassium(16% DV) and magnesium (8% DV).
However, bananas with blueberries together are a source of carbohydrates, which is the main factor in recovery. You want to use ripe bananas for their higher GI.
Chia seeds have become popular in health-promoting circles recently. While they are a very healthy source of Omega 3 (ALA) fats, fiber, and antioxidants, they are not as magical as some companies would have you believe. (11)
The main reasons to use them are that curcumin, the active compound in turmeric/ curcuma is fat soluble and therefore to improve its absorption it’s best consumed together with fats. Another reason is that since they absorb 10-12 times their size in water, they help with re-hydration, which is essential, especially during the hot months.
(1) Srivastava, J. K., Shankar, E., & Gupta, S. (2010). Chamomile: A herbal medicine of the past with bright future. Molecular Medicine Reports, 3(6), 895–901. http://doi.org/10.3892/mmr.2010.377
(2) McKay, D. L. and Blumberg, J. B. (2006), A Review of the bioactivity and potential health benefits of chamomile tea (Matricaria recutita L.). Phytother. Res., 20: 519–530. doi:10.1002/ptr.1900
(3) Amsterdam JD, Shults J, Soeller I, Mao JJ, Rockwell K, Newberg AB. Chamomile (Matricaria recutita) May Have Antidepressant Activity in Anxious Depressed Humans – An Exploratory Study. Alternative therapies in health and medicine. 2012;18(5):44-49.
(4) American Chemical Society. “Chamomile Tea: New Evidence Supports Health Benefits.” ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 4 January 2005. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2005/01/050104112140.htm>.
(5) Medical Economics, 2007
(6) Jacob A, Wu R, Zhou M, Wang P. Mechanism of the Anti-inflammatory Effect of Curcumin: PPAR-γ Activation. PPAR Research. 2007;2007:89369. doi:10.1155/2007/89369.
(7) Aggarwal, B. B., Yuan, W., Li, S. and Gupta, S. C. (2013), Curcumin-free turmeric exhibits anti-inflammatory and anticancer activities: Identification of novel components of turmeric. Mol. Nutr. Food Res., 57: 1529–1542. doi: 10.1002/mnfr.201200838
(9) Hoseinzadeh K, Daryanoosh F, Baghdasar PJ, Alizadeh H. Acute effects of ginger extract on biochemical and functional symptoms of delayed onset muscle soreness. Medical Journal of the Islamic Republic of Iran. 2015;29:261.
(10) Food Funct., 2017,8, 4129-4138
(11) Mohd Ali N, Yeap SK, Ho WY, Beh BK, Tan SW, Tan SG. The Promising Future of Chia, Salvia hispanica L. Journal of Biomedicine and Biotechnology. 2012;2012:171956. doi:10.1155/2012/171956.
(12) Connolly, D. A., McHugh, M. P., & Sayers, S. P. (2003). Treatment and prevention of delayed onset muscle soreness. The Journal of Strength & Conditioning Research,197-208. Retrieved March 16, 2018, from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/12580677/.
(13) Wilson, Patrick B. “Ginger (Zingiber Officinale) as an Analgesic and Ergogenic Aid in Sport: A Systemic Review.” The Journal of Strength & Conditioning Research, vol. 29, no. 10, Oct. 2015, pp. 2980–2995., doi:10.1519/JSC.0000000000001098.