Ouch. That aching feeling when you get out of bed the day after a good session of your favourite sport or gym.
Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness (often abbreviated to “DOMS”), is the pain and stiffness felt in muscles several hours to days after unaccustomed or strenuous exercise.
Whether you are at the gym lifting weights or sprinting for the ball on a football field, you are putting excess physical stress on your muscles causing tiny tears in the muscle fibres to occur – these small tears are what is causing the pain.
As most of you probably know, the pain is only beneficial as it usually means muscles are getting stronger, as new muscle cells grow in order to repair the torn fibres. However, it’s what you do afterwards to recover that helps to build the muscle back up and repair itself.
Eating the proper food and taking appropriate supplements is essential in aiding the muscle to recover and repair!
Keep reading for some useful tips…
Muscles store excess energy in the form glycogen and protein. When you are working out, your body gets its energy from: your pre-workout meal (also very important), and from your glycogen stores.
After a workout session, all, or most, of your glycogen stores have been used up and muscle protein drops and muscles begin to break down.
However, within about an hour-window, your body is the most responsive with absorbing carbohydrates and protein. This is why it is important to consume a healthy meal consisting of a form of carbohydrate (to replenish glycogen stores) and protein (to help your muscles recover).
If you do not have time to eat or prepare a proper meal after your workout, try to have a protein bar handy, preferably one that is high is healthy carbohydrate such as the Oats & Whey Flapjack. Also, try to limit the amount of fat consumed post-workout as fat decreases the rate at which protein and carbohydrates are absorbed by the body.
Carbs, carbs, carbs!
Another aspect you might want to take into consideration is the correlation between the type/intensity of your workout and the amount of post-workout carbohydrates your body needs.
If you are an athlete training on an anaerobic, high-intensity interval level (eg. sprinting or boxing), your body will require a higher amount of carbs after your workout. This is because you are training much nearer to your body’s full capacity hence your muscles require more glucose to supply them with the energy to function at such a high level. Therefore, your immediate supply of glucose in your blood is used up quickly and more glycogen is broken down.
On the other hand, if your fitness routine revolves around endurance training (e.g.. running or rowing), where your heart rate is lower and relatively stable your body will need fewer carbs post-workout.
You still need to consider the intensity of your workout. If you are running a marathon then your glycogen stores will be completely depleted afterwards but if you are running on a treadmill in your gym at a casual pace, they most likely will not be.
Here are a few simple and delicious post-workout snacks for you to try…
1) Post-workout Shake
✓ 200 ml of your choice of milk – why not try almond milk, coconut milk or even hazelnut milk? Choices are ever-expanding nowadays! Unsweetened Almond milk is a great one.
✓ One or two pieces of fresh fruit (a banana is a great choice as they are an excellent source of quickly assimilating carbohydrate)
✓ 1 or 2 scoops of your favourite Protein powder (it is best to stick to whey protein, as opposed to casein as whey is must more readily absorbed by your muscles, whereas casein is suited to before-bed consumption). Alternatively, Vegan proteins such as vegan blend, soy protein, hemp and pea protein will mix just as good!
✓ A couple of ice cubes
Optional add-ins: a scoop of oats, flax seed, chia seed, natural peanut butter (any healthy choice to make your smoothie more yummy and nutrient-dense!)
If you are not into shakes or do not have a blender at hand, there are plenty of other delicious options. Why not try:
2) Greek Yoghurt
Combine this delicious guilt-free treat with a choice of :
✓ Banana/fruit salad
✓ Low-sugar granola
Greek yoghurt has nearly twice as much protein as normal yoghurt, in addition to being a great source of carbohydrates.
It is also a great source of probiotics to keep your GI track heathy – an extra health benefit!
3) Protein-packed sandwich
Made with Myprotein’s new Protein bread – it packs in a huge 30g protein per 2 slices – definitely better than normal bread!
Choose your favourite course of protein such as:
Top with mustard (or not!) and cottage cheese for a balance of nice balance of protein and carbs, in addition to some greens with a bit of lettuce (delicious protein overload!)
Take home message
It all comes down to protein and carbohydrates – additional healthy fats are great to help hormone balance.
If you are looking for gain some muscle mass than aim to consume at least 30-35 grams (depending on your body weight) of protein within 20 minutes of working out.
If your goal is ultimately fat/weight loss than you can wait up to an hour after training and try consuming slightly less protein (15-20 grams). Do not neglect your post-workout nutrition. It is extremely important!
It will keep you fuelled, recovered and ready to smash your next training session!