Nutrition is so important not just before your ride to fuel your work out, but also after your ride to help your body replenish and recover. After exercise, nutrition is responsible for initiating the rebuild of damaged muscles, restoring energy reserves, and enhancing body composition. Essentially, nutrition shifts your body from a catabolic (breaking down) state to an anabolic (building up) state.
If you do not refuel adequately within the anabolic window (that’s 2-4 hours post-work out), you risk moving into the catabolic state. Your ride has primed your body for catabolism; it’s acidic and inflamed from all your hard work, and now desperately needs a boost from food in order to continue building rather than breaking down.
The quickest and healthiest way to get all the nutrients you need after your ride is with a homemade recovery shake. Smoothies and shakes are great when you’re in a state of fatigue, because they have been pre-digested (or “pre-chewed” – sounds gross, but basically blending all the foods up is taking some of the work away from your digestive system, which is a good thing). They also allow you to pack a whole lot of good stuff into one cup.
Here is a simple formula for whipping up a post-ride recovery shake, with lots of ideas for delicious combinations:
Choose a base liquid: coconut water, nut milk, fresh pressed juice, green tea, or just filtered water.
Add a carb: banana, dates, frozen mango, pineapple, or berries.
Add a protein: hemp hearts, chia seeds, nut butter, or protein powder.
Add an antioxidant-rich superfood: spinach, spirulina, turmeric, ginger, or cacao nibs.
That’s it! The ratio of carbs:protein should ideally be 4:1 in order to adequately promote glycogen recovery and stimulate muscle synthesis. The antioxidants help to offset any oxidative damage that occurred from your huge expenditure of energy over the past 45 minutes.
Our favourite combo? Almond milk, frozen banana and mango, a scoop of hemp hearts, and a handful of spinach with a chunk of fresh ginger. Yum!