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The Research On Workout Recovery

There’s lots of information (and misinformation) out there about how to best recover from a workout. Instead of just throwing another opinion in the mix for you to consider, we’re going to share some facts and research about what ACTUALLY helps workout recovery. Here are the cold hard facts.


Without a good night’s sleep, your performance is sure to suffer.  The importance of sleep really cannot be overstated. Sleeping enough will both help you recover after a tough workout, and prep your body for physical activity during the day ahead. 

While you sleep, there are things going on behind the scenes in your body that are essential to workout recovery.  Most notably, certain hormones that are necessary for your body to recover, like HGH, are being released.  This growth hormone surge can help to promote healing, recovery, and muscle growth. 

The negative effects of a lack of sleep on performance are well-documented. A review conducted by Vitale et al. summarized these effects well.  In elite athletes, everything from reaction time to strength to endurance was found to be negatively impacted by sleep deprivation. Increasing the length and quality of one’s sleep not only allows important hormones to be released that aid in workout recovery, but can impact everything from mood to speed to reaction time to overall athletic performance. 


What you’re eating immediately before and after a workout can greatly impact your workout recovery. In particular, to maximize your performance and aid in recovery, you should be sure to consume enough protein and carbohydrates. 

Various studies of different populations have confirmed the importance of these two things. A study of trained CrossFit athletes found that taking a protein-carbohydrate supplement pre- and post-workout led to improved performance in certain workouts.  Other research assessed the impact on cyclists of taking carbohydrate-protein supplements during recovery. It found that these supplements enhanced muscle glycogen resynthesis, which is an extremely important part of workout recovery and can prevent things like soreness and too much inflammation.  Thus, foods that contain both carbohydrates and protein, like recovery protein bars, are the perfect thing to eat after a workout. 

There is also interesting research out there that studies the timing of this nutrition.  Does it matter if you eat carbs and protein right away after a workout?  Not necessarily.  Alan Albert Aragon and Brad Jon Schoenfeld reviewed the existing literature and found that the importance of consuming carbs and protein right away may be overstated. Even hours after a workout, protein and carbs can continue to have important benefits for your body and your recovery. 


What you drink matters just as much as what you eat. In fact, some research suggest that it could even matter more. To put it simply, you need to stay hydrated!  Before, during, and after a workout you should be drinking plenty of fluids to maximize your performance and enhance your recovery. 

When your body does not have enough fluids, it puts you in a state of hypohydration.  This hypohydration has been found to impact pretty much every aspect of athletic performance.  Studies have shown that hypohydration has negative impacts on endurance, muscle strength, and muscular power just to name a few. When you sweat during a workout, the fluids in your body can get depleted quickly, so it is important to hydrate during recovery so you can continue to perform your best on future days. 


Although it is not talked about with workout recovery nearly as much as some of these other components, CBD can in fact be extremely helpful for recovery.  Studies have shown that CBD has a number of antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties.  Intense workouts can lead to increased inflammation in your muscles, which can be detrimental in the long run.  CBD helps to keep this inflammation at a manageable level. CBD has also been shown to increase mobility, which is important to muscle recovery after a tough workout. 

The knowledge above is a great start to help you ensure you’re really doing the best things for your body during workout recovery. If you’re getting enough sleep, eating plenty of protein and carbs, drinking lots of water, and adding CBD to your recovery routine, you should be able to recover quicker and feel better than ever. 


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