When we think of “recovery” what usually comes to mind involves a bathtub, possibly some candles and a morning in bed with no alarm set. Unfortunately proper exercise recovery isn’t all incense and sleep-ins– it also involves stretching, spending time on the dreaded foam roller and proper nutrition.

Choosing the right food to eat after a strenuous workout doesn’t have to be an exact science and series of equations. We’ve put together a few tips based on the latest research to sort out your post workout meal and have you feeling ready to take on the day (and your next workout).

Say hello to carbs

A study published in the International Journal of Sport Nutrition and Exercise Metabolism suggests that in order to replenish the energy stores in our muscle fibres, carbohydrates are an important addition to our post workout meals. Even more surprising is that the suggested ratio of carbs to protein is 4:1. So if you’ve been avoiding a carb hit after exercising it might be time to get some more crumpets, fruit or muesli into your life.

Sorry I’m late

For some of us, time management isn’t our strong suit and if your post workout ritual is rushing to make it to work, your bus or an appointment, chances are a post workout meal isn’t high on your priority list. Thankfully, you don’t have to chow down within 30 minutes to reap recovery benefits. Studies suggest any time within three-four hours after exercise should do it. The meal doesn’t have to be fancy either, grab yourself an almond milk smoothie on the go or throw a nut or protein bar into your gym bag. Simple!

Protein pow

We all know that protein has a starring role in muscle growth and recovery, but working out whether we are getting enough, especially after a seriously strenuous tabata sesh, is an impossible guessing game. Sports scientists have come to a fairly unanimous consensus that we should be looking to get 0.2-0.4g of protein per kilogram of bodyweight after we exercise. Put in simple terms, a 60kg female should be aiming for 12-24g (about 100g of cooked chicken, three eggs or just under a scoop of protein powder).

Women's Fitness

The Recipe: WF’s Recovery Smoothie
Add to a blender:
One cup of almond milk or coconut water
Half a cup of frozen or fresh raspberries or blueberries
Half a frozen or fresh banana (frozen gives it a thicker, creamier texture)
A teaspoon of honey
A dash of cinnamon
A handful of almonds or hazelnuts
Half a scoop vanilla protein powder
Blend until smooth and serve in a glass or travel cup.