Have you ever completed a great workout that left you feeling like a total badass? POPSUGAR spoke with Pratik Patel, New York Giants director of performance nutrition and assistant strength and conditioning coach to find out how to maximize that feeling throughout the day. He shared that to get the most out of your workout, you're going to need to do the following things.
- Stretching: According to Pratik, "If it was a really intense workout and you're worried about being sore or you have some preexisting issues or injuries, stretching certain areas [and] foam rolling — especially the lower body" is important. Pratik said you should get into the routine of doing 30 seconds of static stretching, holding five to six different moves to increase your range of motion, and decreasing soreness in your joints.
- Recovery Nutrition: According to Pratik, after workouts, you should aim to get in some form of carbohydrate and a protein from a high-quality protein source. He suggests getting at least 20 to 30 grams of protein in post-workout from high-quality sources like shakes, animal products (example: lean meats), and dairy. He added that getting protein from one of these three sources will complement the essential amino acids that your body cannot synthesize. "It also gives you a good chunk of branched chain amino acids to help stimulate muscle protein synthesis, which is just getting the body to recover and build itself back up," said Pratik.
- Consume protein often: "Most of the research that's come out in the past five years or so just says that for maximum stimulation of muscle protein synthesis, you want 20 to 30 grams of a high-quality protein every three or four hours," Pratik told POPSUGAR. "So, if you're a larger athlete, you have a larger amount of muscle mass, then you could probably get upwards of 40 to 50 grams. If you're smaller athlete and you don't need as many calories, then you can get away with 20 to 25," Pratik added.
- Eat anti-inflammatory foods: He recommends foods high in antioxidants like dark-coloured fruits (strawberries, cherries, blackberries, and blueberries).
- Eating complete meals: According to Pratik, you should always try to have a protein source, fruit or vegetables, and a complex carbohydrate.
- Hydrating: While there isn't an exact amount of how much water you should be drinking, staying hydrated will help regulate your core temperature and maintain your blood volume. Without it, your muscles will fatigue and your performance will suffer.
- Minimize stress and sleep: He recommends doing breathing exercises, meditation, or sitting in the sauna to decrease stress. Pratik said that getting enough sleep is "one of the most overlooked things we can do" and that everyone should strive for at least eight hours of sleep a night. If that isn't possible, use your days off to catch up on sleep and eliminate the sleep deficit you experienced during the week.