While you exercise, your body becomes depleted of certain nutrients, and not replenishing them quickly slows the nutrition recovery process. Nourishing your body after a hard workout or competition is key.
Here are five common mistakes that people make after a heavy workout:
Mistake 1: Not rehydrating
The sweat that you lose during your workout may impact your performance, but it will also impact your next workout unless you have a rehydration plan.
Aim to drink about 20 to 24 ounces of fluid for every pound that you lose. If you don’t weigh yourself before and after a workout to determine the amount of weight that you lose, simply drink a bottle of fluid in the first hour after finishing.
Mistake 2: Not eating carbohydrates and protein
Aside from fluid, two of the most important nutrients that should be in your post-workout nutrition plan are carbohydrates and protein. You should consume carbs immediately after your workout because they’ll help replenish carbohydrate stores in the muscles that were used during the workout. Consuming protein is also encouraged to help enhance the making of new protein and will contribute to your daily protein requirements.
Mistake 3: Taking a shower
While this may sound odd, making this mistake means you’re delaying your post-workout or competition nutrition plan. After a workout, most people will jump in the car and rush home for a quick shower before thinking about eating or drinking anything.
Try to start your nutrition plan immediately afterward (sooner than 30 minutes is ideal, but up to 60 minutes is OK), so you take full advantage of the opportunity to nourish your body.
Mistake 4: Drinking alcohol
While it may be a popular ritual following some competitions, it’s better to save alcohol consumption until after you’ve had a well-balanced recovery snack or meal or later in the day if possible.
The simple reason is because the calories from alcohol will displace the calories from more beneficial carbohydrate sources that help improve muscle glycogen stores. Put the beer and wine aside and opt for some fruit or whole grains after finishing up a hard workout or competition.
Mistake 5: Failing to have a plan
This is by far the biggest mistake most individuals make. It’s best to have your nutrition plan mapped out before heading to a workout or competition. The less you plan, the more room for error.
Have some snack options ready before your workout and throw them in a cooler or bag and make sure they’re easily accessible when you finish. It doesn’t count if they’re in your car that’s parked more than a mile from the finish line of a race.
Taking the appropriate nutritional steps after a tough workout or competition will help pave the way to a much faster nutrition recovery.
Bob Seebohar is a sports dietitian, exercise physiologist, strength and conditioning specialist, triathlon coach and CLIF Bar nutrition partner. He loves training for triathlons, cyclocross and seeing how far he can push his body physically, mentally and nutritionally. Read more about him at fuel4mance.com.
Burke, L. & Deakin, V. Clinical Sports Nutrition, McGraw Hill. 2006.