Jena DeMoss: Dietitian tips to maximize muscle recovery

Published 6:30 am Wednesday, August 11, 2021

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Training is a stressor on the body. During weightlifting and resistance training, our muscle fibers are broken down and weakened at a microscopic level. A proper diet, rest and recovery allow our bodies to adapt to this stimulus and rebuild the muscle fibers to be bigger, faster and stronger. After exercise, our muscle cells are like a dry sponge, ready to absorb nutrients and start the recovery process. To maximize recovery, aim for the four R’s of post-exercise fueling:

Refuel with carbohydrates. We need carbohydrates to replenish our muscle glycogen or our stored carbohydrate in our muscles. This is especially important if you are training multiple times in a day.  Glycogen is what we tap into during intense exercise, and we need to replenish it with carbohydrates.

Repair with high-quality protein. Protein provides the building blocks for new muscle, and high-quality protein after a workout jumpstarts the muscle repair process.

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Rehydrate with fluids and electrolytes. We lose water and electrolytes in sweat. That’s why it’s important to include both to fully rehydrate our body. Water will quench your thirst, but it will not provide electrolytes like sodium and potassium, which are lost in sweat.

Reinforce with color and/or healthy fats. Exercise is a stressor on the body and creates a low level of inflammation in the body. We can fight inflammation in the body by consuming essential fats like omega-3 fatty acids and antioxidants found in colorful fruits or vegetables. Post workout is the best time to include these key nutrients.

While protein food sources are always preferred, it’s not always the most convenient food group to have on hand. A high-quality protein drink or powder can be a terrific solution. Whey protein is a classic choice for a convenient and versatile protein source. Whey is derived from milk and is known for its high amounts of essential amino acids to support muscle recovery and growth. A well-formulated whey protein, such as Performance Inspired Isolate Whey or Ready 2Go Protein, is a perfect option for a recovery snack on-the-go, or to complement any meal to provide high-quality protein.

Connect with your Hy-Vee dietitian for sports nutrition services on our new virtual nutrition services platform. To learn more, visit and schedule a complimentary Discovery Session. Our Food & Fitness Virtual Nutrition Store Tour is all about developing healthy habits in and out of the gym. Join a Hy-Vee registered dietitian on this virtual tour to learn shopping tips and product recommendations to support an active lifestyle. Other services are available to help you meet your health and wellness goals, including one-on-one consultation packages, other virtual nutrition store tours and more! Check out this smoothie recipe from for your next workout recovery snack.

Strawberry-Mango BCAA Smoothie

Serves 1

All you need

• 1 scoop Performance Inspired BCAA Tropical Mango Delight Flavor

• ½ cup Hy-Vee frozen mango chunks

• ½ cup Hy-Vee frozen strawberries

• 1 cup unsweetened coconut milk, or milk of choice

• ½ cup ice

All you do

Add BCAA powder, frozen mangoes, frozen strawberries, coconut milk and ice to a high powered blender. Blend until smooth. Serve immediately.


The information is not intended as medical advice. Please consult a medical professional for individual advice.