I received an email from a new mom who is getting back into shape after having had her baby. She is now lifting weights, doing sit-ups, crunches, and some squats, and jogging on the treadmill. After her first day of exercise, she reported she felt every muscle in her body! Poor woman; I think she didnt know the soreness would be even worse on the second day, and then recovery would set in and the muscle soreness would start to dissipate.
One trick to reducing muscle soreness is to refuel right after the workout with a carb-protein combination, such as a yogurt, glass of chocolate milk, sandwich, bowl of cereal with milk, etc. The carbs refuel and the protein helps heal.
In fact, eating a carb-protein combo before you exercise is also a good idea, because that pre-exercise snack gets digested and is ready and waiting to get used when the exercise stops. So if plan to do a hard work out first thing in the morning, plan to grab a yogurt on your way to the gym, and then refuel with some cereal and milk when you return--hopefully within a half hour after the exercise ends. The sooner you refuel, the happier your muscles will be.
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