"Chris, what are a few of your top tips for natural recovery?"
This is a question I’m often asked. Recovery is a vital part of building a healthy lifestyle over a long period of time without burnout and fatigue. I’m not a big fan of most of the pills and powders on the market that are advertised as “pre-workout” and “post-workout” support. In my experience, most are filled with artificial ingredients, additives, artificial sweeteners, high amounts of caffeine, synthetics, and other things that are anything but healthy.
I like to keep things simple and straightforward. I believe in naturally supporting the body and letting it do the recovery it’s designed to do.
Here are my top five tips for natural recovery after workout:
1. Hydrate Well and Sleep Well
When exercising, you lose water while you sweat, that’s why it's important to drink water after a workout. The water loss obviously increases if the physical activity is done outdoors in hot, humid weather (hello, Texas!). It’s easy to forget to drink adequate fluids and overlook the huge impact it has on the body. Water flushes toxins out of the body, transports nutrients into the cells, and helps regulate body temperature and pH balance. All necessary parts of good recovery. If you find yourself feeling sluggish, dizzy, suffering from a headache, or notice your urine is extra dark, it’s time to double down on that water!
When it’s extra hot or if you’re exercising more than an hour, you may need to add electrolyte support. Instead of opting for high sugar sports drinks, remember that electrolytes like calcium, magnesium, sodium and potassium are naturally found in food, too. Some of the best foods for electrolytes are: avocados, broccoli, beans, almonds, strawberries, watermelon, oranges and bananas. These foods help prevent fatigue and keep muscles functioning optimally.
Sleep is also another very overlooked aspect of recovery. Sleep is the time when the body can restore, heal, and rebuild your body and muscles. If you are overdosing on caffeinated pre-workout drinks and over-fatiguing your central nervous system, you may struggle to sleep. This will ultimately lead to you feeling tired, sore, moody, and thick-headed the next day. It will also inevitably cause a decrease in your performance. Any high-level athlete will tell you the same thing… sleep, sleep, sleep!
2. MCT Oil:
MCT stands for Medium-Chain Triglycerides. Many studies show that it is a game changer for reducing lactic acid build up in the body which makes it a popular choice among athletes. It’s excellent for gut health, balancing blood sugar, and even combating yeast overgrowth. One study found that taking the MCT oil before exercise may help you use more fat instead of carbs for energy and even help increase fat burning during exercise.
I like to mix it in with my morning coffee!
3. Stretch, Foam Roll, and Use Active Recovery
Many of us (myself included) like to skip out on the warm-up or cool-down portion of the workout to save a little time. But stretching is vital and helps your muscles relax, which in turn, accelerates the healing process due to the increased blood flow. You'll be able to bounce back faster after an intense workout when you take time to stretch for just a few minutes.
Stretching is instrumental in reducing pain and risk of injury. Muscles that remain tight after a workout are more vulnerable to injury. When you loosen up your muscles you also reduce your chance of injury.
It also helps to eliminate the buildup of lactic acid. What is lactic acid? Lactic acid is an organic acid produced by the body when glucose (or sugar) is broken down to generate cellular energy in the absence of oxygen. If you’ve ever done a sprint at the end of a workout or hit a set of heavy squats in the gym, you’ve probably experienced a tight, uncomfortable burning sensation in your legs accompanied by an overwhelming fatigue in the legs. That’s lactic acid.
This substance can make muscles achy and tired. Stretching can help reduce the amount of lactic acid throughout your body.
What are the best stretches after a workout?
You can rotate between static stretching (holding for 20 seconds or more in each position), ballistic stretching (bouncing movements that push muscles beyond normal range), and dynamic stretching (active stretching movements).
4. Fuel Your Body with Quality Food
Giving your body the proper nutrients to nourish and rebuild is the best thing you can do for optimal recovery. What is the best food to eat after a workout?
First of all, make sure you are getting adequate amounts of quality protein and fat. Avoid highly processed sugars. Keep a close eye on your source of carbohydrates and steer clear of highly processed grains. And don't forget to eat your veggies as they are a high-quality source of nutrients that are vital for building a healthy body.
5. Don’t Ignore the Symptoms of a Deeper Problem
Moving your body is an integral part of building a healthy lifestyle. It provides a myriad of benefits for the mind and body. It reduces anxiety, increases energy, and aids in weight loss. Because of these amazing benefits, it is typically one of the first things that health and wellness experts recommend to clients who are looking to get healthier, lose weight, and improve their overall health.
But let me ask you this:
Do you feel absolutely wrecked after a workout? Do you feel sore and almost flu-like in the days following? Do you feel like you directly want to sleep after a workout?
If you have high levels of inflammation and/or an autoimmune disorder, going from a sedentary life to suddenly doing five days of extreme exercise in a week will likely create a strong immune response and only increase inflammation. In other terms: You’ll feel like shit. And that’s not what we want.
The problem is that too many people decide to go from a sedentary lifestyle to adopting a 5-6 day-a-week extreme exercise regime while attempting to make a major shift in their diet. When you do this, the result on the body is rough. Rather than feeling light, energized, and detoxed, you feel exhausted, sore, sluggish, fatigued, and inflamed. You judge yourself and think it’s because you lack motivation or have a weak mindset. You form a strong dislike of exercise and dread it. Because it hurts. It wipes you out and makes you feel like you need a nap in the middle of the day.
That’s why I always encourage my clients to take a few weeks or even months and focus on food, sleep, reducing toxic load, and implementing our strategic supplementation plan. This is especially true for clients who are dealing with an autoimmune disorder.
A lot of clients ask, “But can I still exercise if I have an autoimmune disorder?”
And the answer is, “Yes! Yes you can exercise with an autoimmune condition.” How often, how much, and how intensely you exercise will differ from person to person. One person may be able to comfortably lift weights and perform high cardio while another person may need to stick with walking and slow resistance training with bands. The most important thing is to first address the root of your symptoms, decrease inflammation, and allow the immune system to calm down.
Trust me, when inflammation has decreased, excess weight has fallen away, and the immune system has received the message that it can stop rallying the troops and calm down, you will feel amazing.
And guess what? When you feel amazing, moving your body is like a reward. You will feel like going for that walk in the evening. You will be surprised at how your body feels energized after your group fitness class instead of wiped out. You will want to hike, bike, dance, lift, run, or whatever it is that you love to do.
This is why it’s incredibly important to begin with food, calming inflammation, and allowing the body to detox and heal before going to extreme measures with exercise. It’s also important to get to the root of your symptoms through strategic testing.
If you find yourself nodding your head right now, don’t keep ignoring the signs your body is trying to give you. Listen to what it’s trying to say.
If you’re interested in calming inflammation, detoxing your body, or naturally managing the symptoms of a chronic illness or autoimmune disorder, and getting to the root of your symptoms through proper testing, I would love to talk with you.
Click here to schedule a free consultation!