Have you started eating better and working out in hopes of losing a little weight or bulking up? Some people begin their fitness journey by taking baby steps toward their goal while others jump head-first into dieting and two-a-day workouts.

Whatever your method of getting in shape is, you should consider a recovery routine. In fitness, recovery can be defined as a period that allows for your body to heal and recuperate from intense training.

The recovery period is different from resting in between sets or high-intensity intervals; a recovery period can include hours or even a couple of days. We’re going to talk about the best ways to recover after an intense workout to ensure you see the best results possible.

Keep reading for more information!

Replace Fluids

The human body consists of approximately 60% water. During a strenuous lifting session or heart-pumping cardio, you are going to sweat which depletes the amount of water your body so badly needs.

Sweat isn’t just water – if you’ve ever tasted it, it is quite salty. Although this fluid may taste like sea-water, it is composed of urea, ammonia, sugars, and various types of salt like potassium and calcium. This means you can’t simply drink water mixed with table salt to replace it!

Plain water is an excellent choice after most workouts because it doesn’t contain any unneeded sugars, sweeteners, or extra sodium (you can obtain this from your diet.) However, after a truly extreme sweat session, you may consider sports drinks that contain micronutrients to replace what you’ve lost.

Besides replenishing your body’s fluids with water and the occasional sports drink, it is worth examining post-workout supplements. The best post-workout supplements will cater to your specific needs – including bulking up or trimming down!

After you’ve sufficiently cooled down, caught your breath, and returned home from the gym, your hydration shouldn’t stop. During your recovery period, consuming adequate amounts of water will help increase your endurance and reduce the like likelihood of cramps.

Eat, and Eat Well

Although that fast food place looks delicious after your time at the gym, it is unlikely to give your body the nourishment it needs and can potentially hinder results.

After a blood-pumping workout, you will need to eat a balanced meal of carbs, protein, and fat. A few ideas for post-exercise meals include:

  • A protein shake and a banana
  • Grilled chicken and vegetables
  • Greek yogurt with assorted berries
  • Steak and eggs (keto)
  • Fish (salmon or tuna) and a sweet potato

It is important to remember that carbs aren’t bad–they will restore glycogen reserves. (Good) Fat isn’t to be avoided either, although it should be consumed carefully. Fats from foods such as avocados, whole milk, and nuts will help rebuild muscle.

Of course, every fitness guru talks about protein. While this macronutrient IS important, it should not be the sole focus of your diet. Additionally, eating whole foods containing the protein your body needs is better than relying completely on shakes and bars.

During your recovery period, it is essential to maintain healthy eating habits. This isn’t to say that you can’t enjoy a slice of pizza, a cheeseburger, or your favorite takeout, but do so in moderation!

Recovery and Sleep

Many people tend to stay up far later than they should, wake up at the crack of dawn, and rely on little sleep and lots of caffeine to get through their day. Unfortunately, this is a way of life for people that have families, jobs, and other obligations but it can begin to take its toll on your health.

Getting enough rest is linked to your body’s ability to rebuild muscle and enhanced performance during a workout. This means that it is imperative for whatever sleep you do achieve to be quality.

If you can’t seem to go to bed early enough and are constantly waking up with no energy, enact a nightly ‘sleep routine.’ This routine may include a warm shower or bath, a cup of chamomile tea, not using electronics for an hour before bedtime, and reading.

Is your routine close to perfect, yet you’re still waking up groggy? It could be a number of problems including the temperature of your room, amount of light, bedding, or even an outdated mattress.

Try sleeping with a fan, hanging blackout curtains, using a white noise machine, and swapping your hand-me-down sheets for a cooling bamboo set.

As far as your mattress goes, check all of your options and consider purchasing a new one online. Many online mattress companies offer satisfaction guarantees as well as financing to ensure you are happy with your selection. Note that these mattresses are of equal quality and are less expensive than their in-store counterparts.

Other Ways to Recover

Aside from consuming the foods your body needs for nourishment, sleeping, and replenishing any fluids lost, there are a few other ways to aid your recovery.

Directly after your workout, consider soaking in an ice bath. Once you’ve become accustomed to the water’s temperature, your blood vessels will open up and allow oxygen back into the muscle.

You may also want to begin your morning with some light stretching. This will help alleviate muscle soreness from your previous workout. Sometimes it is nice to have someone else stretch for you–in this case, contemplate the benefits of a sports massage.

The Trinity of Fitness

Eating well and exercise go hand-in-hand; there is no doubt about that. However, when you forget to take time for proper recovery, you miss out on crucial muscle building and healing that is necessary for ideal fitness.

In addition to missing out on gaining mass or burning fat, overdoing your exercise regiment at the gym may also lead to injuries like tendonitis or sprained muscles. This may ultimately lead to more time away from the gym than intended.