Your recovery nutrition is key to you being able to compete day after day. This allows you to replenish, replace and allow for repair. The purpose of training is to help you get stronger, faster, and more skilled or to improve endurance. The adaptations you desire cannot occur if the body is not given the resources it needs. Hydration (fluids), fuel (food), sleep and rest are your go-to recovery resources.
Recovery nutrition helps to:
- replenish the body’s energy (fuel) source
- hydration to replace fluids lost in sweat
- provide key nutrients that help repair damage
- protect your body from getting run down during the grind of a tough season
Half an Hour to Repower
It is important for you to get in the habit of practicing recovery fuel within thirty minutes after practice/training. Our body is primed to start recovery right after training and competing . When your heart rate is still elevated at this time which aids in nutrient delivery to muscles. Now, the body’s gas tank (glycogen) is ready to be filled back up .This allows for increased glycogen storage if done consistently. This helps with initiation of repairing tissues in the short-term. In the long-term this is how you improve your endurance and power. Getting in nutrients immediately afterwards your body flips its hormonal switch from muscle breakdown to building muscle.
Keys to Optimize Recovery (Cs):
- Cups– Hydration is first and foremost. Personalizing your hydration goals according to sweat rate is optimal. However, a rule of thumb is to get at least 2 cups (16 ounces) of fluids within the first 30 minutes and then the following hours.
- Carbs– Consuming some sort of carbohydrate whether in food or sports beverage is important for several reasons. Carbs are needed to replace glycogen (gas tank). They also help reduce cortisol that if remains elevated can continue to lead to catabolism of muscle and increase injury risk. Carbs generate a release in insulin. Insulin is needed to start the muscle growth pathway and build muscles=strength.
- Combination– Like any sport teamwork makes everything better. A recovery snack and/or meal of carb, protein and fat. If you are looking at sports formulated bars, drinks or shakes be sure to get one that has all 3 components.
- Color- Eat your fruits and vegetables. A variety of colors in fruits and vegetables provide nutrients and phytochemicals that aid in recovery.
- Green– (spinach, kale, kiwis) = oxygenators. They help to dilate blood vessels increasing oxygen and blood flow to muscles.
- Purple/red (tart cherry, grapes, blueberries, eggplants)- fountain of youth- these nutrients help to prevent every day damage known to contribute to aging or increase injury risk.
- Yellow/oranges– (oranges, citrus)- immunity & tissue repair- These are known to help with protecting our immune system. They also aid in tissue repair that can aid in injury repair but also injury prevention.
- White– (onions, garlic)- antibacterial/antimicrobial- Having a consistent source of these can aid in cleaning up viruses that increase the potential for food borne illnesses but also aid in maintaining gut health.
Recipe for Recovery
Look for recipes that can incorporate all of the above mentioned. Smoothies, rice/pasta bowls or oatmeal are all great options. Ideally it would be great for you to aim to get in at least every color of fruit and vegetable daily. This will help you meet the athlete’s recommended goals of 4-5 servings of EACH fruits and vegetables.
Be sure to have a rotation throughout the week if you feel that is unrealistic. Meals serve as the best way to get in all these nutrients. Aim for a snack if more than 2 hours out from training / competition then follow up with a meal. Check out a list of balanced bars on my website www.beccamcconville.com .