I was at the gym recently, just 15 minutes into my normal 30-minute run (okay, maybe it’s more like a jog), and I felt like I was running in quicksand. I couldn’t keep my normal pace and my muscles felt like I’d been on the treadmill all day. By the time I got home, I had a splitting headache and could barely make it up the stairs. What gives?
I thought back to the night before, when I left the gym in a hurry and came straight home to put in a few extra hours answering emails. As it turns out, the only beverages I’d had between the two workouts were my morning tea and a few sips of water with lunch. I’d found the culprit! I couldn’t keep my normal pace because I wasn’t hydrated properly.
Simply put, a good workout can be sabotaged by dehydration and fatigue. But different workouts can benefit from different beverages, and no two athletes are alike. Here are some tips on the best beverage for your workout routine.
The Best Drinks for Your Workout Recovery
After a Muscle-Building Workout
Pushing your body through a muscle-building workout of presses, curls and lifts will leave you tired and sore. The soreness comes from tiny tears in the muscle fiber that occur when they are pushed beyond capacity. This soreness is different from sharp, stabbing pain. If you feel that, call your doctor.
So what should you drink after putting your muscles through that good pain? Amino acids make up the foundation of lean muscle, so drinks like AminoXcan help your body recover after a muscle-building workout by rebuilding those tears more quickly.
Runners can be at risk for losing the most fluid via sweat. Gatorade, Powerade and even coconut water help both during a workout and during recovery. During the workout, your body loses water through sweat. These sports drinks contain sodium, electrolytes and carbohydrates, all of which are depleted during a run. The combination of electrolytes and carbohydrates will help you recover more quickly after a good run.
After Yoga Class
Yoga is an intense workout for your muscles and your mind, but just because yogis might not sweat as much as runners or cyclists doesn’t mean they can skip a post-workout beverage.
Coconut water is a favorite recovery drink after yoga practice because it contains about the same amount of potassium as a banana, so it will help restore your electrolyte balance. Potassium also helps with muscle cramps, and after holding that crane pose for two whole minutes you are going to need it!
Cyclers need to pay close attention to their post-workout recovery. A study from the International Journal of Sport Nutrition and Exercise Metabolism, chocolate milk may be a good recovery drink for cyclists. Milk’s high water content, naturally occurring protein and calcium, as well its carbs, make it a perfect after-workout drink. Your muscles can metabolize the carbs in milk and your taste buds can rejoice!
Your workout isn’t over when you turn off the treadmill or leave the gym. In fact, you are entering a critical phase of exercise: recovery. Since you’ve punished — in a good way! — your body for thirty or sixty minutes or longer, be sure to spend at least ten minutes stretching. Then, finish your recovery by re-hydrating with beverages that will ensure you stay healthy and active for years to come.