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Recovery - Are you eating the right foods after your workout?

You’ve just finished an intense workout… now what? What do you reach for to eat or drink? Do you reach for anything at all?

Does it matter? In a word, YES. In order to achieve the best possible results from your workout, your focus must not be simply on the workout, but also on recovery.

In Thrive, Brendan explains that two athletes using the same training plan will see very different results if one focuses on improving recovery while the other does not.

Your body’s ability to recover from the stresses of exercise makes the biggest difference to achieving your fitness goals.

Why is nutrition so important?

Through Brendan’s own athletic training programs, he discovered that 80% of recovery has to do with nutrition. Since proper nutrition is the key to recovery, it’s vital to arm yourself with the right recovery foods.

Having high quality food right after a workout is important because a workout is really just a form of stress - you break down your body tissue, muscles and cells, and ligaments, and tendons. The more high- quality the food you consume after your workout, the better your body will be able to reconstruct -taking the food you give it and building new body tissue.

Recovering quickly from exercise is the number one goal of any athlete, as it allows for faster improvement. If the body can dedicate less energy to recovery after exercising, it will have more energy to put towards other systems – like the immune and hormonal systems.

Immediately following a workout

To get the full payoff from your workout, it is essential to take in the nutrients you need within the most right timeframe. The 45-minute window following a workout is the best time to consume high-quality food. Fed within that timeframe, the muscles will be better able to absorb the carbohydrate in the food, speeding recovery.

Immediately after a workout, the body needs simple carbohydrate to enter the bloodstream – the quicker the better. After you’ve pushed yourself, your body is too busy replenishing itself to work at heavy digestion, so a liquid or near-liquid consistency is best – like a recovery drink or a whole food pudding. Ideally, this snack should also contain minimal fat and be fiber-free so your body can get these simple carbohydrates into the bloodstream immediately.

See the recipe at the end of this article for a great recovery pudding to try. It’s simple to make and store – not to mention delicious!

One hour after your workout

Now that you’ve replenished your body with an immediate snack, it’s time for a complete, nutrient-rich meal. Ideally, this mean will involve a high quality, easily digestible raw protein (i.e. hemp, flaxseed) and vitamins and minerals from natural whole food sources.

Take the challenge

A whole food smoothie is a great, easily digestible option for post-workout nutrition and it’s easy to prepare after a hard workout. This month’s Thrive Challenge asks you share your favorite a smoothie recipe – make it one focused on recovery for a chance to win Vega prizes. Take the challenge now!

Recovery Pudding Recipe

· 2 ripe bananas

· 1 cup blueberries

· ½ cup soaked almonds

· ¼ ground flaxseed

· ¼ cup chocolate Vega Whole Food Health Optimizer

· ¼ cup roasted carob powder

· 2 tsp ground rooibos (grind to a fine powder in a coffee grinder)

· 1 tsp lemon juice

· ¼ tsp sea salt

In a food processor, combine all ingredients; process until smooth. This pudding will keep for up to 3 days in the refrigerator, but its best when eaten fresh. Makes 2 servings.


· Thrive: The Vegan Nutrition Guide to Optimal Performance in Sports and Life by Brendan Brazier (2008) Da Capo Press

· The Thrive Diet by Brendan Brazier (2007) Penguin

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Tags: exercise, nutrition, pudding, recovery, workout


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Comment by lookingforanswers on July 13, 2010 at 10:41am
The reason that he is advising a low fat-low fiber food is that both fat and fiber slow the uptake of sugar to the blood. In the after workout scenario, you want a quick refuel of the muscle glucose stores. Adding fat and fiber would slow this down. In a normal meal, proper fat,fiber and protein ratios are important, but this is a special case.
Comment by Kellie MacMillan on July 13, 2010 at 10:05am
I made this recipe and had it after my workout yesterday. It was awesome and provoked lots of questions at the gym. I was questioning the fiber as well but in reviewing what Brendan teaches in Thrive Diet its all about ratios. Each meal we eat should have all three food sources: carbs, protein and fat. After a work is when one can eat a higher ratio of carbs. I think this is what I'm reading and would love a little more info as well.
Comment by Sean R on July 13, 2010 at 9:27am
I'm a little confused. It says above that the snack taken immediately after the workout should contain little fat and be fiber-free. However, the pudding recipe contains bananas, blueberries, almonds, and flaxseed, which are all decent sources of fat and/or fiber. Can anyone clarify?
Comment by Stefan A on July 13, 2010 at 7:46am
You could try an avocado in place of a banana. Avocadoes make for a nice creamy pudding consistency.
Comment by Hope Hollinshead on July 13, 2010 at 5:11am
Can't eat bananas and was wondering what can replace the bananas in this recipe?
Comment by Brad M on July 12, 2010 at 10:32am
I am going to try this recipe, thank you!

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