Fueling for tomorrow starts with today. If there is one component to your sports nutrition that will have the biggest impact on your performance it is recovery nutrition. Recovery lends your body to change. It is when your body adapts, becoming stronger and more resilient. Recovery doesn’t start until you eat, so fuel up before you put your feet up!
The simple plan for optimal Recovery is the three R’s:
Each of these is critical for recovery and prepares you for your next day’s training and racing.
Glycogen is stored energy in your muscles. During exercise, especially long and intense sessions, you use and deplete glycogen stores. After exercise there is a 15-30 minute window where your body can efficiently convert carbohydrates into glycogen stores, preparing your body for the next day’s training. Glycogen recovery is especially essential for athletes that have heavy back-to-back training or events. Refuel with carbohydrates immediately after training and continue eating carbohydrate rich meals throughout the day.
Feeling consistently sore after training, rebuild your muscles by adding protein to recovery. Protein rebuilds and repairs muscle tissue. Amino acids that makeup protein, are the building blocks to muscles, which aids in muscle adaptation. Rebuild with protein to enhance muscle adaptation for long-term training.
Cramping and muscle fatigue is often associated with dehydration or loss of sodium. Restore fluids and electrolytes lost in sweat during and after training. Monitor your hydration by observing the color of your urine; look for pale, light-colored urine. If your urine is dark and produced in small amounts, start drinking! Determine your specific hydration needs by calculating your sweat rate. Weigh yourself before and after a hard workout. Each pound lost represents one pound (16 ounces) of sweat. During training, replace sweat losses accordingly, and try to lose less than 2% of your body weight. Replace fluids after exercise by drinking 16 ounces of fluid for every pound of bodyweight lost. Higher sodium foods and fluids can replace electrolytes, specifically sodium, after training.
Refuel. Rebuild. Rehydrate. Putting the 3 R’s into practice
Consume a combination of carbohydrate and protein to refuel your glycogen stores and rebuild your muscles. Recover within 15-30 minutes of training with a bottle of water and Bonk Breaker Protein bar, chocolate milk, protein shake made with fruit or juice, or yogurt. Say goodbye to carbo-loading pre-race pasta dinners. Properly recover after training and your muscles will be fueled for race day (note-you still need to top off your glycogen stores with pre-race nutrition).