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Natural Awakenings Bucks and Montgomery Counties PA

The Importance of the Recovery Meal

Sep 13, 2013 08:21AM
by Michelle Bense

For people that exercise, what they eat and when becomes more important. The first meal eaten after a workout is known as the recovery meal, which is arguably the most overlooked meal in any fitness plan, according to sports nutrition coach Joanna Chodorowska, founder of Nutrition in Motion. The recovery meal is important to aid in the body’s restoration post-workout. It also helps balance the blood sugar, avoiding senseless eating later in the day.

“Many of my clients come in for weight loss, cannot lose weight despite their exercise regimen, or are looking to get leaner,” says Chodorowska. “Most don’t eat for up to two to three hours after their workouts. This is like skipping meals and sets up the body to store fat rather than burn it. It is best to eat within 30 to 60 minutes after finishing exercise to replenish glycogen stores and get the all-important protein that will help rebuild muscles,” she explains. “If blood sugar isn’t balanced adequately with a well-timed recovery meal, this can lead to eating more of the wrong calories the rest of the day. Clients who wait longer than two hours end up eating as if they had a bottomless pit come dinnertime,” she emphasizes. “This will surely negate the benefits of that exercise session.”

According to Chodorowska, a proper recovery meal should include about 15 to 20 grams of high quality protein, 20 to 25 grams of high quality carbohydrates, about a cup of green or green leafy vegetables and about 10 to 14 grams of high quality fat. The possibilities of recovery meals are endless, so being creative is fun and easy.

Chodorowska provides these easy meal ideas to get started:

Sandwich: Use whole-grain, preferably gluten-free, bread, stuffed with three ounces of homemade chicken salad with celery. Add a large side salad with nuts, seeds, dried cranberries and some dressing.

Garbage salad: Use a cup and a half of any type of greens, topped with three ounces grilled chicken or fish, one or two small red potatoes, a half-cup of green beans and tomatoes, plus a handful of nuts and raisins, and one tablespoon of homemade vinaigrette dressing.

Breakfast burrito: Start with a whole-grain, preferably gluten-free wrap; add a half-cup of black beans or black-eyed peas, plus two scrambled eggs and a cup of mixed fresh vegetables, plus spinach, as well as another half-cup (small salad) on the side.

Smoothie: In a blender, mix one cup of frozen fruit, 15 to 20 grams of protein powder (vegan or whey, according to personal preference) or three tablespoons of plain full fat organic yogurt, plus one tablespoon of flaxseeds, and handful or two of spinach or kale. Add enough water to easily blend.

Chodorowska adds, “Remember that skipping this meal could mean defeating some of the awesome advances made while exercising.”

Connect with Joanna Chodorowska at 215-272-6774 or visit

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