Eating to fuel muscles post yoga class
Re-fueling the body post yoga is especially important if you do a strength based yoga class such as Vinyasa, Power, Rocket or Dynamic yoga. After a sweaty, strong class, your body is crying out for electrolytes, hydration, protein, and carbohydrates.
1. Consume more water / coconut water / green juice than you think is necessary pre and post yoga. Your muscles, when contracted, rotated, lengthened and flexed, cause the body to expel the major electrolytes (mainly sodium and potassium) that your body uses to send electrical impulses throughout the body. It's important to get the right balance of these electrolytes, in order to maintain muscle action, so drinking fluids is essential. It doesn't have to be difficult, and you don't need to go out and buy coconut water for every class you take. Just simple water, with a little lemon slices will do the trick. Or a green juice if you're lucky to be near a great juice store. Remember that water-based foods like cucumber, lettuce, celery and spinach all count towards your daily water intake, so get munching on these bad boys.
2. Eat your protein. Proteins contain amino acids that help with muscle recovery. We are made up of amino acids, so it is an absolute no-brainer that we must consume them. I eat protein with most meals (apart from desert!) - and prefer to get mine from brown rice and pea protein powder, eggs, chicken, turkey, yoghurt, fish and very occasionally red meat. If you're not consuming enough protein, especially after a strong yoga class, you may find yourself getting grumpy and recovering slower than normally - not a good state to be in. Increase the protein and you'll feel a gazillian times better.
3. CarboHYDRATE. Carbs - friend or foe? They've been given a very unfair bad rep, what with the Atkins diet, no-carb and Paleo diets all over the media. I'm not dissing any diet here, I'm just pointing out that there's nothing wrong with carbs. From a nutrient perspective, they are powerhouses, providing hydration, minerals and antioxidants. Brown rice, for example, contains 80% of our daily manganese requirements, the mineral which helps the body synthesise fats, and also contains a host of antioxidants, putting it right up there with the superstar berries themselves. Consume your carbs around your workouts, directly after if possible, to replenish the muscles. Think fruit, porridge oats, brown rice, hummus and starchy veg like sweet potatoes. Now you can understand why you're getting so tired on your low-carb diet...
4. Eat fat to lose fat. Fat is all over the media now as the way to lose weight, and for good reason. Essential fatty acids are vital for recovery from training, since the body can't produce them by itself. Linoleic and Alpha Linoleic acid are the two fatty acids used to create omega 3 and omega 6 fats. The more of these omegas you eat, and remember to get a good balance between the two, the faster you will recover from workouts and yoga classes. They also prevent disease, provide essential nutrients to the brain required for thinking, decision making, and much more. Don't be scared of adding avocados, cheese, coconut, nuts, full fat yoghurt, coconut and olive oil, butter and other fats to your diet - your skin and hair will thank you too.
Here's an example of my post-workout or yoga smoothie, full of a balance of carbs, fats, greens and protein:
- 1 cup almond / Alpro coconut, cashew or soya mylk (small amount of protein)
- 1 stick celery (greens/water)
- 1/4 cucumber (greens/water)
- handful spinach (greens/water)
- 1 apple (carbs)
- 1/2 banana (carbs)
- 1 scoop (20g) of rice or pea protein power (I like Sun Warrios. Whey is also an option but check the ingredient list to make sure there's no nasties) (protein)
- 1 TBS flax seeds (fat)
- 1 tsp coconut oil (fat)
- Optional nutritional extras: cacao powder, acai berry powder, wheatgrass, spirulina, ice to make it super slushy and delish.
Blend in your blender (TIP - Nutribullet is the best!) and drink up.