Recovery Nutrition for Athletes
Proper recovery nutrition has the potential to make a tremendous difference in an athlete’s performance. Athletes who are serious about their performance should consume a balanced carbohydrate-moderate protein meal (with fluid/water) or recovery drink after every workout, practice, and competition – recovery nutrition for athletes is king.
It is also advised to consume carbohydrates and protein with fluid mix during exercise and/or immediately post exercise. If you do so, you will be rewarded with less muscle damage, faster glycogen replenishment, improved performance, greater strength gains, fewer injuries and quicker recoveries. Research has shown that consuming carbohydrate and protein during and after a workout can reduce muscle damage, improve performance and increase recovery in a workout.
The ability of athletes to perform at their highest levels can be limited by several number of things, one of them being how quickly their muscles recover and repair themselves after strenuous/intense workouts. Although many factors contribute to recovery, nutrition may be the most important. However, it is often the most neglected and misunderstood component.
In the last couple of years, research coming out of leading supplement manufacturers has given us a greater understanding of how nutrition can enhance recovery and performance. It is to the athlete’s advantage to take these notes seriously and add them into their daily regimen of nutrition.
The Golden Window for Recovery
Athletes who train very hard on a daily basis usually deplete muscle glycogen stores severely and damage muscle cells, resulting in muscle fatigue, soreness, and hindering performance. Among many other factors, the ability to perform at a high level several days per week is limited by how well the body recovers its glycogen stores and repairs muscle tissues after strenuous workouts.
With so many articles written over the years on recovery nutrition we have come to understand and believe that the key to maximizing recovery is to consume a mix of carbohydrates and proteins immediately after exercise. The KEY and IDEAL recovery nutrition fix is a meal or liquid supplement containing good carbohydrates and quality proteins.
One that I would recommend is a quick absorbing carbohydrate such as waxy maize starch and vitargo. They have the unique ability to rapidly shuttle nutrients, as well as other performance supplements (eg. Creatine) that are absorbed through the stomach and into the bloodstream – where they are delivered directly to the working muscles to boost performance, increase recovery time and stimulate protein synthesis.
We need to take into consideration that timing is critical, because the muscle cells are highly insulin receptive after exercise. (Somewhat like a sponge soaked in water). Insulin is the anabolic hormone that is responsible for transporting glucose and amino acids into the muscle cells and stimulating glycogen and muscle protein synthesis, it also greatly reduces muscle protein breakdown and speeds up recovery.
If you wait too long to eat or drink recovery nutrition, not only will your muscles no longer be insulin receptive, but they will in fact become insulin resistant and their recovery will be severely compromised.
Quality proteins such as whey protein are what we need to consider as essential and critical for tissue growth and repair, since the body is continuously breaking down proteins, our diet must provide sufficient quantities. We need to consider bio-individuality as protein requirements and intake varies and depends on the athlete’s body size, type and activity, a post-workout protein is of the utmost importance to kick start the muscle repair, recovery and growth process.
Whey protein is incredibly popular as it is very rich in BCAAs, digests rapidly, is highly bio-available and has the preferred protein digestibility corrected amino acid score. Whey protein is the preferred and best source for recovery nutrition.
It cannot be denied that recovery nutrition for athletes is of the highest importance if you are serious about your performance. Incorporate it into your training regimen and marvel at how you up your game.
If you practice recovery nutrition, what foods and drinks do you consume?