Recovery nutrition can make the difference when it comes to making significant progress with your training. With the right nutrition to supplement your workouts, you can recover and adapt quicker to a new training stimulus. A lack of proper nutrition can result in increased muscle soreness, greater fatigue, and affect your overall progress.
4 important components of recovery nutrition are hydration, glycogen stores, muscle rebuilding, and our immune system.
It’s important to stay hydrated once you have completed your training in order to replenish fluids lost in sweat. A good way to judge if you have hydrated enough is to see if your urine is dark or light in color. The lighter it is, the more likely it is you have re-hydrated enough. Also by checking your body weight before and after your workout, you can judge if you have drank roughly the equivalent of the fluid you lost. Drink plenty of water and add in drinks such as Gatorade when you need the extra carbs and/or electrolytes.
During training we use the stored glycogen that’s in our muscles to help carry out the exercise. The carbohydrates we eat gets stored as glycogen, so it’s essential to consume enough carbs to aid recovery. If your main goal is fat loss then it’s very likely that you will be restricting your carb intake. Usually in a calorie deficit your performance levels might not be at their peak. This is the downside of cutting back on calories and carbs in order to drop body fat. It becomes a balancing act with your carb intake when you want to train intensely and also recover effectively from training during a fat loss phase. However, if your priority is purely performance then you need to make sure you’re always refueling yourself enough (not in a calorie deficit) to maximize your recovery and future performance.
When we train we break down muscle protein during the workout. Recovery nutrition is essential in rebuilding our muscles to become stronger than before. There are essential amino acids in quality protein sources needed for the muscle building processes that take place after training. The amount of protein that you need to consume on a daily basis will depend on your goal. There has been recent studies to suggest that eating up to 2.2g of protein per pound of lean muscle mass has great muscle preservation effects when in a caloric deficit. The reason you increase your protein when you’re trying to lose fat is because your overall calories are lower. As you’re in a catabolic state you need that little bit extra to try to keep hold of the muscle you have.
For general fitness it’s recommended that around 1g of protein per pound of body weight should be enough to help your muscles recover and rebuild from training.
The efficiency of our immune system can be affected from intense training and this can lead increased risks of getting sick. This is highly problematic especially for athletes that need to be able to perform at a high level on a regular basis. Try to include a wide variety of fruits and vegetables in your diet to make sure you’re getting all the important vitamins and minerals to help aid your immune system.
It’s never one size fits all. Recovery nutrition plays a different role depending on our individual goals, types and duration of exercise, and also how frequently we train. A long distance runner will need a lot more food to help with recovery than the average gym goer looking to shed some fat and improve general fitness. It’s important to customize your nutrition carefully according to your primary focus and goal.
Learn more about how to maximize your progress with nutrition and book a session at The Lab now!
Rishi Haria – Strength & Nutrition Coach