After practicing a strenuous activity such as yoga, it’s possible that some of your muscle or tendon fibers tear slightly or become injured. This can sometimes go unnoticed, but if you regularly practice a posture incorrectly or, even worse, you don’t replenish your body to repair itself, your body is more susceptible to greater injuries. The foods you choose and the times you eat after a yoga class are just as important as what you eat before class, so it’s worth putting some thought into how you can help your body recover!
What Should I Eat After Class?
Let’s look at three key nutrients that you can include in your snacks and meals to eat after your yoga practice…
1) Fruitify Yourself
Fruit is one of the best things to have on hand after any yoga practice. It’s loaded with simple carbohydrates to help your body replenish, as well as electrolytes, water and vitamins that will hydrate and nurture you. The key ingredient here is the carbohydrates. They are what will refuel your muscles and will also maintain the healthiness of your nervous system and an active brain. Check this table for daily requirements of carbohydrates when you practice yoga:
|Type of yoga or activity||Recommended Daily Carb Intake|
|Light||Low-intensity yoga or activity||3–5 g per kg of body weight|
|Moderate||Moderate yoga or exercise programme (~1 h / day)||5-7 g per kg of body weight|
|High||Endurance programme (moderate-to-high intensity yoga or exercise of 1-3 h / day)||6-10 g per kg of body weight|
|Very High||Extreme commitment (moderate-to-high intensity yoga or exercise of >4-5 h / day)||8-12 g per kg of body weight|
2) Muscle Food
Your muscles are made of protein, so it’s probably no surprise that it’s a good idea to include some protein in your menu of post-yoga snacks to help your muscles build and recover.
This doesn’t mean that you should go directly to buy one of those protein shakes or special protein bars. Processed proteins found in supplements aren’t necessary or even recommended. They are either full of preservatives, extra sugar (just like most industrial foods are) or more than the protein you actually need. Instead, go for natural sources of protein such as nuts, grains and pulses.
- If you are on the run, a fistful of almonds, your favourite combination of nuts or seeds will provide you with a good amount of protein and energy after your practice.
- Eggs are also great option, for their great protein quality, vitamins and mineral content.
- Blend almond milk with cocoa powder, a sprinkle of powdered ginger and a banana.
- Make your own protein bars or balls – just mix dry fruit and nuts.
Consuming natural sources of protein will help your muscles recover and become stronger. However, you don’t need to go overboard with the protein. You only need about 10 to 20 grams of protein to keep your muscles happy after a workout. Any excess in protein that you consume will be stored as fat, which is why you don’t need all those special products high in protein – in reality it is much simpler and cheaper than that.
To give you a guide, this is the average amount of protein that different food groups have:
- Meat and soy meat substitutes: 7 g protein/serving
- Dairy products: 8 g protein/serving
- Breads/cereals/grains: 3 g protein/serving
3) Get Your Electrolytes
Commercial sports drinks usually don’t have all and the right amount of electrolytes that your body actually needs after a proper yoga practice. But what it does have a lot of is sugar. Instead of dosing on these types of drinks opt for water and fruit. If you’re dehydrated, then try an oral serum or supplement with the proper amount of electrolytes and glucose.
When To Eat Post-Yoga
The first two hours after your practice are key. This is because your body is most receptive to receiving these nutrients with the first half hour to 2 hours after your practice. Eating within this time can have an impact on your next practice and your overall improvement. When you replenish your body with the protein, carbs and nutrients that your body needs within this time you are protecting your body by helping it to heal and recover faster.
Right after your practice is the ideal time for carb replacement in your muscles so that they can rebuild glycogen, which is the storage fuel for your muscles. Among the benefits of replacing the lost glycogen is that you will be preventing chronic fatigue, acute burnout or injuries.
The Bottom Line
If you forget everything that came before this these two rules should keep you in good stead:
- Replace the liquids you’ve lost. Plenty of water, pure and simple, is necessary.
- Eat something! A healthy snack (fruit or protein) will refill your energy stores within your muscles and your liver.
So after your next yoga practice, don’t wait till after commuting. Carry a banana, a pack of nuts or other healthy snacks that will help you restore, recover and take care of your body for immediately after your practice and in the long run.