Recovery Grilled Cheese

December 01, 2016

There’s only one piece of critical advice for timing your post-workout refueling and rehydration. And that is to eat and drink as soon as you can post exercise. Here are thoughts to help make that happen:

1) Plan Ahead. This certainly isn’t the easiest or most convenient thing to do, but planning ahead and pre-cooking meals that can easily be reheated to eat immediately after you finish your workout is what I personally prefer. Why? Because, it generally means I’m eating something that tastes better, is more nutritious, and a better value. But, even if planning ahead means you’re going to the sandwich shop down the street, the bottom line is that you want to satiate your hunger and your thirst as soon as you finish your workout. The reason for this is that immediately after exercise, tired muscles are really sensitive to insulin. This means that as insulin is released when you eat, the energy from the food you eat gets preferentially delivered to the muscles that need it the most rather than spreading throughout the body to fat cells or muscles that weren’t active during exercise. The net result is that recovery is improved because one is effectively refueling in a more targeted and faster manner.

2) Use a Recovery Drink if You’re in a Bind. While, there’s nothing like a freshly cooked meal to fast track recovery, if you’re in the middle of nowhere a good recovery drink with about 4 or 5 grams of carbohydrate to 1 gram of protein at about 300-400 Calories with 300-400 mg of sodium per 16 oz serving is a great way to refuel and rehydrate before a more ample meal can be eaten.

3) Time your Workouts to Finish before Breakfast, Lunch or Dinner. There’s something about being an athlete and still functioning in normal society that is sometimes easier said than done. With that in mind and in thinking big picture about proper food timing, sometimes the easiest way to make everything fit is to start with when one trains. Plan your training to finish before breakfast, lunch, or dinner and few will notice that you're living in two worlds (just don’t forget to shower before).

It’s important to note that if you’re not an elite endurance athlete looking for a peak performance, the principles discussed also apply to any physical active person who is looking to feel their best when working out. What’s different is the amount or scale. It’s the same music, just at a lower volume. Giving yourself ample time to digest, thinking ahead, and listening to one’s sense of thirst and hunger are same.

In fact, for someone just looking to stay healthy and lose a little weight, timing of food around activity is a great way to structure one’s daily meals and meet one’s goals, since using food as fuel or to refuel creates a more natural relationship with the food we eat. Our bodies are designed for physical activity, so use food to be active. For a culture driven by breakfast, lunch, and dinner, a simple tip is to plan your workouts to end before breakfast, lunch, or dinner, so that you’re refueling a depleted tank and revved metabolism. Finally, scale up your calories around your workouts and scale down when you’re not working out. Ultimately, no matter what the intensity or duration of exercise, thinking about how we time food in the context of activity is key to a fitter and healthier life.

For a more detailed review of what and when to eat to optimize your active lifestyle, check out the Feed Zone Cookbooks for delicious and easy recipes as well as a plethora of food for thought.

This is your basic grilled cheese sandwich with a whole lot of love added for fueling up post workout. Start with the basic recipe and then add whatever sounds interesting. Because this sandwich has more fat and dairy than most, save it for a mid- to late-season recovery meal when your body can use more calories.

1 tablespoon softened cream cheese
2 thick slices of bread
Dash of ground nutmeg
4 thin slices Swiss cheese
2 ounces canned roasted red peppers or green chiles, drained
Olive oil

Optional Additions
Grilled asparagus
Cooked bacon
Sun-dried tomatoes
Goat cheese
Truffle oil

Spread cream cheese onto 2 slices of bread (these are the sides that will be matched together).
Sprinkle ground nutmeg on top of the cream cheese, then top with slices of Swiss cheese and a few pieces of roasted red pepper or green chiles.
Put sandwich together, brush olive oil on the outsides, and grill in a hot sauté pan until cheese is melted and bread is golden brown on both sides.

Per Serving
Energy Fat Sodium Carbs Fiber Protein
686 cal 38 g 1,033 mg 58 g 6 g 32 g

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