As you lay there prone on the mat after a workout, you may be relieved that it's all over for the day and you can go home and scoff some food.
Sadly, what you do post-workout counts just as much as what you do before and during your fitness session.
Get it wrong and you can end up undoing all that good work. HuffPost UK Lifestyle asked a stable of top-notch personal trainers for their top tips.
Eating protein and watching your carbs
"During a workout you are actually breaking muscle tissue down, so it's really important that after your workout you start the repair process as soon as possible," says Scott Laidler, celebrity personal trainer.
"The best way to do that is by ingesting protein. Also, following your workout, both glucose and glycogen will be severely depleted so it’s essential to take in a form of carbohydrate, this will speed delivery of nutrients into your muscles, further facilitating recovery."
However, don't overestimate the amount of carbs and calories you need, says Charli Cohen, personal trainer and sportswear designer. "Unless you're an endurance athlete or have a particularly fast metabolism, a mountain of pasta or litre of sugary 'recovery' drink post-workout is probably unnecessary. "
However you can have carbs when you are...
Doing HIIT (high intensity interval training or tabata training). "If you are doing interval training you can afford to have your big carb hit post workout," says personal trainer Christianne Wolf. "Research has shown that eating carbs post training like Tabatta will not raise your insulin levels like it would before- making your body hold onto fat, instead it will be the best time to eat carbs as your body will use it as energy rather than fat storage.
Always stretch post workout for at least 10 minutes says Christianne. "Spend around 10 seconds on each stretch, remember to do right and left and think about all your muscle groups, quads, hams, calves, hip flexor, stomach, lower middle, biceps, triceps, shoulders and upper back and neck."
Soothe your aches
"You may also want to try water contrast therapy," says Scott, "which involves alternating between hot and cold water to repeatedly constrict and dilate blood vessels, helping to rid the system of waste products. Use a warm shower, steam or sauna for one minute followed by a 30 second blast of cold water and repeat four times."
Charli adds: "Try an Epsom salts bath to soothe muscular aches and pains." It helps you sleep better too.
Don't leave it too long before eating after a workout
"There may be too much cortisol in your system throwing your body into catabolism," says Scott. "This means your body is effectively eating away at its own muscle to fuel itself, creating a very negative environment in which composition wise you will actually get fatter. f you don’t have a protein shake with you grab a banana, oat raisin cookie and a handful of cashew nuts following your workout, but always try to plan ahead with your protein shake."
Similarly don't eat too much before working out
"Try not to eat immediately before as you will be uncomfortable exercising," says celebrity trainer Hayley Newton. "Have some food at least 30 minutes before to let your food digest and stop the feeling of being sick whilst you exercise."
Lay off the energy drinks
"Drink a lot of water, coconut water is an amazing natural electrolyte drink - do not drink horrible sugary energy drinks- this is not real energy!" says Christianne.
Sam Feltham agrees, adding: "Probably the worst thing you can do for your health is drink a liquid full of sugar."
Scott Laidler'ss post-workout protein shake recipe:
- 1 scoop whey protein powder
- ½ frozen banana
- 2-3 frozen strawberries
- 250ml coconut water
- 150g plain pro-biotic yoghurt
- Blend all ingredients for about 20 seconds
- Sprinkle some organic granola on top of the shake
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