Carbohydrates are very important for stopping the catabolic effect that training causes. Consume them as soon as possible after training—if you go without them for more than a couple of hours after your workout, the window that allows for your best gains closes until your next lift.
There’s another reason, too. If you’re training hard, you’re depleting your muscles’ glycogen levels, which need to be replenished. This necessitates taking in carbs—with some protein mixed in—so you can refill glycogen stores and be fully recovered for your next session. (Recommended carbs-to-protein ratios usually range from 2-to-1 to 4-to-1.)
According to dietitian Chris Mohr, Ph.D., sports drinks are a good choice for endurance athletes, but fruit is better after the average weight-training session. “Fruits provide the necessary carbs, as well as nutrients, which are great for your body, like fiber, vitamin C, and a whole slew of other powerful vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants,” Mohr says.
It’s also always preferable to take in some natural sugars rather than the processed sugars like high-fructose corn syrup that are added to most sports drinks. If you can supplement the fruit with a
protein shake made with skim milk (which provides more helpful carbs through lactose), it should provide optimal recovery. Or, as Mohr suggests, just toss the fruit into the blender while you make your post-workout shake. Greek yogurt with fruit is another option.
As for which particular fruits to go for, check out our suggestions below.
FIVE TO TRY
- Provide a daily dose of vitamin C, plus a decent helping of fiber, vitamin A, and calcium.
- Are packed with fiber and pectin and aid in digestion plus contain potassium and B6.
- Are loaded with vitamin C and manganese, and they keep bones dense and strong.
- Contain anthocyanins in the pigment, which help burn stored fat.
- Are loaded with vitamin K, potassium, fiber, and folate, which helps generate red blood cells.