Good post-workout nutrition is just as important for avid runners and fitness class enthusiasts as it is for professional athletes like soccer star Alex Morgan.
While the 33-year-old forward was busy picking up a win over Canada to advance the United States Women’s National Team to the World Cup, ‘Good Morning America’ got the scoop from one from the many experts helping her refuel, as well as tips for recreating Morgan’s recipe for success at home.
Acacia Wright, an expert dietitian and nutritionist who works with Morgan and her San Diego Wave FC teammates, explained which types of nutrients are most important after a workout and offered tips and recipes that help the grassroots pro of plants to give the best of itself.
“The first 30 minutes after exercise provide a significant opportunity for nutritional recovery. This is when the body is most effective at replenishing glycogen – the storage form of carbohydrates – and promoting muscle repair and growth. “Wright explained. “Eating enough protein, carbohydrates, and fluids after a workout improves performance, reduces soreness, supports muscle growth, improves immune function, aids the recovery process, and optimizes overall body composition.”
Ultimately, she said, it’s what helps athletes “feel better and have more energy in general.”
Morgan, meanwhile, told ‘GMA’ that her mentality for games and practices is to “do your best now because you’ve only got two and a half hours and you’re done for the day, so make the most of it.”
“Goals aren’t everything,” Morgan said, but when it comes to big moments like breaking single-season goalscoring records, his hope is always to shake things up “in the next game”.
After a workout, Wright suggests people “focus on getting quality carbohydrates and protein into your body – this gives your muscles the ability to replenish lost energy by replacing glycogen stores, while helping to repair and rebuild”.
Foods like the protein and fruit smoothie recipe below that are “high in quality carbs” can help “replenish muscle fuel stores,” while lean protein works to “promote repair and growth. muscles,” Wright explained. “It also stimulates the adaptation of the workout and helps to minimize muscle soreness.”
In addition to protein and carbs, she said an “ideal recovery meal should be abundant in plant foods that [supply] a natural source of antioxidants, which help protect cells from free radicals produced by the physical stress of exercise.”
“Never sacrifice good nutrition, enough calories, and enough carbs and protein post-workout,” she said. “It’s an important time to refuel and make sure your body will respond well to training while making sure you come into the next workout strong instead of exhausted, sore and low on energy.”
Another important aspect of recovery for Morgan includes cryotherapy and red and infrared light sauna sessions. The California-based athlete said she’s been using this time to “get into some meditation…to kind of help me slow down.”
“I’m still going millions of miles an hour,” the coffee lover admitted. “So it’s really good to slow down and stop thinking about my game last night or my game tomorrow – and just breathe and be at peace with where I am now.”
“I still love playing football, but I know time away from my family should be put to good use,” she said. “I have to reset my mindset and make sure I make the most of my time on the pitch because when I step away I want to be a mom and I want to be someone who isn’t always Alex. Morgan, but someone who is just Alex, a sister, a daughter, a mother, a wife.”
Alex’s Post-Workout Blueberry Oat Milk Protein Bars
Wright shared an easy-to-prepare recipe for high-protein bars made with plant-based ingredients for after a workout. The bars are beloved by two-time Olympic medalist Morgan, who lives in San Diego with her husband Servando Carrasco, a fellow soccer player, and their 2-year-old daughter, Charlie.
1 1/2 cup oats
2 tablespoons organic vanilla oat milk protein powder
2 tablespoons ground flax seeds
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1/8 tsp salt
3 tablespoons of honey
1/4 cup cashew butter
3/4 cup oat milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 1/2 cup blueberries
1/2 cup oats
3 tablespoons coconut sugar
2 tablespoons cashew butter
In a large bowl, combine 1 1/2 cups oats, 2 tablespoons protein powder, ground flax seeds, cinnamon and salt.
In another bowl, combine honey, 1/4 cup cashew butter, oat milk and vanilla. Mix until they are completely combined. Stir wet ingredients into dry ingredients until fully incorporated.
Pour batter into prepared loaf pan, spreading evenly. Sprinkle blueberries on top.
To make the filling, combine the remaining rolled oats, coconut sugar and remaining cashew butter until well combined. Sprinkle evenly over blueberries.
Bake 25-35 minutes at 325 degrees until top is golden brown. Let cool in pan for 20 minutes before removing and cutting into 8 pieces.
Vanilla Berry Protein Smoothie
This smoothie recipe is made with organic plant-based protein and contains a balanced ratio of carbohydrates and antioxidants, which Wright says is optimal for refueling after a workout.
2 scoops of vanilla bean, organic vegetable protein powder, superfoods
1/2 cup raspberries
1/2 cup blueberries
1/2 cup blackberries
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 cup chia seeds
2 cups organic protein almond milk, unsweetened vanilla
Put all the ingredients except the vegetable milk in a blender.
Pour 1/4 cup of milk into the blender and start blending.
Add the rest of the milk and mix until smooth.
Pour into a glass and garnish with additional berries before serving.
Alex Morgan’s post-workout recovery routine and plant-based protein snack recipe originally appeared on goodmorningamerica.com