Nutrition in Recovery

The recovery diet should be rich in two macronutrients: lean protein and complex carbohydrates.

All athletes depend on sufficient recovery to repair damaged muscles, connective tissue, and joints, replenish depleted nutrients, and clear the body of lactic acid and other performance-damping waste products. Many athletes seem reluctant to give recovery its due, perhaps from the misguided thinking that more work is always good. But in reality, recovery is an integral component of the process of athletic training and overall fitness.

Recovery has the following parts:

Sleep: Most people do not get enough deep, restorative sleep. This is a problem for the sedentary office worker who wants to be more alert; it’s a crisis for the finely tuned athlete hoping to excel during competition. Active athletes should get at least eight hours of uninterrupted sleep per night.

Stretching: Stretching before and after workouts prevents injury, but it is most beneficial when muscles are warm after a heavy exercise program. Stretching lengthens muscle fibers, strengthening them and making them more amenable to the sudden flexion and contraction of power surges in major sports. It also improves circulation and the function of the lymphatic system.

Inactivity: Rest and inactivity – simply refraining from athletic training and letting your body be idle – is essential to effective recovery, especially injury prevention. Many athletes injure themselves in training because they over-train and fail to pay attention to the signals their bodies send: sore muscles, exhaustion, tightness, or joint pain, among others.

Deep Muscle Work: Many exercise programs feature recovery weeks after three or four weeks of rigorous strength and cardiovascular training. These recovery weeks are not idle; they include workouts that engage the body’s aerobic and anaerobic systems without pushing the muscles toward injury. The lighter athletic activity also accelerates the removal of lactic acid from tissues due to increase blood flow. Very effective recovery disciplines include core work, yoga, and deep stretching.

Nutrition: Recovery is the time when the body adapts to the eustress of physical training by developing new muscle mass and restoring the body’s glycogen levels. The period directly following an intense workout is particularly important for athletic training. During this time, the body is especially drained and vulnerable to injury and exhaustion

Nutrition and Recovery

The recovery diet should be rich in two macronutrients: lean protein and complex carbohydrates. For meals immediately following a workout, consume carbohydrates and protein together, as the carbohydrates increase protein absorption.

The following dietary suggestions reflect the need to combine foods for recovery:

Fish: Salmon, tuna, tilapia, and other white fish are all terrific low-fat, high protein choices. Add a sweet potato or high-carbohydrate steamed vegetable like broccoli or cauliflower and you’ll get plenty of Omega 3 fatty acids, complex carbohydrates, and fiber to replenish your glycogen stores and rebuild muscles, while stopping inflammation.

Lean meat and brown rice: Chicken or steak plus rice delivers a protein punch, along with fiber and complex carbohydrates. Also, the protein/rice combination increases the feeling of being full so that you eat only what your body needs to recover and don’t consume excess calories.

Author: Dr. Andrew Myers

Learn more about recovery supplementation for athletic performance in a book written by Nobel Laureate in Medicine Dr. Louis Ignarro and Naturopathic Physician Dr. Andrew Myers Health Is Wealth: Performance Nutrition for the Competitive Edge

And recovery drinks for anaerobic and aerobic exercise

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Nutrition in Recovery

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