If you’ve just had a sports massage, you may be wondering what to eat after one. After all, you need to restore your energy and nourish your body as soon as possible after such an intense treatment.
Of course, the food you choose should be high in protein, so it will help build muscle and repair damaged cells in your body after the massage.
Plus, it should contain plenty of carbs to give you quick energy again. If you want to learn more about the foods that will do this, here are ten tips on what to eat after a sports massage that you may find useful.
1) Energy-rich foods
But try not to overload your stomach with big meals right after a massage. Instead, try eating energy-rich foods like nuts, which give you all essential nutrients without being too filling.
Almonds and walnuts are both great sources of protein that can help build muscle mass, as well as fiber and vitamin E that can help strengthen your hair and nails. Good dairy sources of protein include cheese and yogurt.
Many people also recommend salmon for its rich flavor and health benefits such as heart protection, improved brain function, healthy skin tone and weight loss.
Seafood is also loaded with nutrients so if you’re feeling up for it after your massage session, consider having some grilled or poached salmon or mackerel with vegetables on the side.
2) Rehydrate with carbs
Dehydration is one of your biggest enemies after an intense training session. When you’re dehydrated, your body can’t perform at its highest level and you increase your risk of injury.
Don’t go overboard with food, but focus on carb-rich foods (fruits, veggies, pasta) that will help you rehydrate and refuel—while avoiding saturated fats that slow down digestion. You should aim for roughly 10 grams of carbs per pound of body weight for best results.
The American College of Sports Medicine recommends another addition post-workout: 15–20 grams of protein within 30 minutes after exercise ends. It’s easily digestible and will keep amino acids in your bloodstream well into next day’s workout session.
3) Time your nutrients for maximum recovery
Many athletes are well aware of how important food is for recovery. This isn’t just about replenishing glycogen stores, though—it’s also about giving your body what it needs nutritionally so that it can build muscle and repair itself after a tough workout.
To help with maximum recovery, make sure you eat within 30 minutes of exercise (ideally within 15) and combine proteins and carbs immediately afterwards. Examples: post-workout smoothie with whey protein and frozen fruit or whole-grain cereal with low-fat milk and honey.
4) Avoid heavy meals
Whether you just finished exercising or not, avoid eating heavy meals before heading into massage therapy. You don’t want to feel like you’re sloshing around during your session. This will also help keep you from feeling bloated and uncomfortable throughout your appointment.
You should always listen to your body when it comes to food, but generally speaking a big lunch or dinner might make it difficult for you to lie flat for long periods of time in certain areas of your body and could cause unnecessary discomfort.
So be sure that whatever you eat won’t have any unpleasant side effects for you as well as your massage therapist!
5) Have a protein meal soon after training
Having a protein meal soon after training can have multiple benefits. A post-workout meal provides your body with extra calories, which helps promote recovery.
At the same time, it delivers amino acids to your muscles. This combination of nutrients will help kick-start anabolic processes in your body and speed up muscle growth and tissue repair.
6) Warm up your muscles
The most important thing to do after receiving a sports massage is to move your body. You want those muscles and joints warmed up so that they are ready for strenuous activity when you hit up your favorite basketball game or go jogging.
Do some light stretching, jump rope, run in place—whatever you prefer. Just make sure that you do something active before jumping back into an intense workout routine. Your body will thank you later! And be sure to eat plenty of protein after your massage as well!
Proteins build muscle and repair tissue and adding them into your diet will ensure that your muscles are getting all of the amino acids they need for growth and repair!
7) Keep it light but regular
The worst time to eat after an intense massage is right before you have one. Since sports massages tend to focus on your limbs, keep your food light.
Some athletes report that chowing down too close to their massages can result in nausea and indigestion, so it’s best not to eat heavily just before or during treatment.
Also, schedule any post-massage meals regularly throughout your day, instead of at irregular intervals. An irregular eating schedule can lead you into binge eating; stick with three squares per day at regular times for better digestion and overall well-being.
8) Drink chocolate milk
Chocolate milk is an excellent recovery beverage, but most sports drinks are full of added sugar and low in protein. Unsweetened chocolate milk has all that you need for post-workout recovery: natural carbs and proteins, which will kickstart muscle recovery.
Chocolate milk contains about 20 grams of high-quality protein, including BCAAs, as well as 13 grams of sugar. All that sugar comes from lactose—milk’s natural sugar—and fructose, which can be metabolized more quickly than other types of sugar found in fruits and vegetables.
9) Avoid high sodium
Sodium is an essential nutrient, but if you’re someone who regularly exercises and sweats, you may be taking in too much sodium. Excess sodium can cause swelling or water retention, which will slow your recovery time.
Look at nutrition labels carefully; remember that one teaspoon of salt contains 2,300 mg of sodium. Instead of loading up on canned soups and bagged salads, eat fresh fruits and vegetables; they are naturally low in sodium (and high in potassium), so they will help balance your body’s fluids by flushing out excess fluid through urine.
Also avoid processed meats like hot dogs, sausage and salami — these foods are often loaded with excess sodium.
10) Sugar isn’t so bad after all
Don’t get caught up in post-workout meal dogma; it turns out that eating carbohydrates is actually beneficial after your workout. Sugar has been demonized for years, and we now know that sugar plays an important role in post-exercise recovery, says Davis.
Whether you choose honey or maple syrup, sugar will restore glycogen (energy) levels and help prevent muscle breakdown after exercise.
Note: Go for simple sugars or good carbs such as fruit juice rather than sodas with high fructose corn syrup—the negative effects of which are less clear when it comes to exercise recovery, research shows.
Post-Workout Nutrition is Important: In order for your muscles to recover properly, they need plenty of protein and carbohydrates, which are found in healthy foods like fruits, vegetables, nuts and whole grains. These nutrients help build muscle tissue and regulate your immune system.
Protein also helps repair damaged muscle tissue after strenuous exercise. Be sure you are eating enough protein (at least 0.36 grams per pound of body weight) as well as complex carbohydrates (1 gram for every kilogram of body weight). Carbohydrates can come from whole-grain breads, cereals and pasta.