Eat to REACH YOUR MAX POTENTIAL Brooke Kobetz Anyone who has tried a new fitness routine, logged in extra miles, or upped their training load for the next CrossFit or bodybuilding competition, has undoubtedly experienced muscle soreness and fatigue. Rest and recovery are especially important for athletes because they allow the muscles to repair and strengthen as well as replenish your body’s energy. Recovery also allows the body to adapt to stress for improved performance. Nutrition is a major component supporting optimal recovery. Proper nutrition is essential to refueling, rehydrating, promoting muscle repair and growth, supporting immune function, and adapting your body to stress during training season. Fueling your body with a good carbohydrate snack 30 minutes to one hour after a workout is most effective to replenish muscle fuel stores. That’s because muscle glycogen is depleted after a long, hard workout. Glycogen is broken down to provide the body with energy and continues to break down even after exercise has stopped! If you forego eating after a workout, certain catabolic hormones will continue to break down glycogen for several hours which may lead to muscle soreness. Protein is another macronutrient important to building and repairing muscle tissue and 20-40g of protein should be consumed shortly after a workout to start muscle protein synthesis. The best post-exercise snacks are those that contain both carbohydrates and protein. The goal is to stop muscle breakdown and begin repair. You want to look for protein sources containing all the amino acids. Whey protein or pea protein shakes are great post-exercise drinks. Read the ingredient list and make sure you are buying clean powder without artificial sweeteners and unpronounceable chemicals. Brands such as Promix for Whey protein, or Sunwarrior for pea protein are great go to’s and you can add in a scoop 10
of fruit to up the carbs. A few great options for post-recovery meals include: yogurt with berries, omelets, spinach salads with walnuts, salmon with quinoa, fruit with cottage cheese, and lentil soup. Also, make sure to rehydrate with plenty of water! Electrolytes should be replenished after prolonged bouts of exercise. I use Nuun tablets, which have virtually 0 calories, and are sweetened naturally with monk-fruit juice and a pinch of stevia. After a long run, I crave all the bad foods. I mean ALL, fried pickles, bloody Mary’s, french fries, and pretty much anything greasy and fatty. Sadly, these foods are some of the worst for recovery. Alcohol (yes, that includes my Bloody Mary), is a major inhibitor to post workout recovery. Alcohol impedes the building of new proteins and thereby halts muscle growth. Research shows that knocking a few back, also slows the time it takes your body to recover and more than five beers may lower testosterone in men further inhibiting muscle growth. Alcohol may also disrupt sleep patterns and as a result, lowers the production of growth hormones. Growth hormones play a part in building and repairing muscles. Aside from alcohol, spicy and greasy foods are a big NO. You may be craving a big juicy burger, but pass it up. Fat slows down digestion, lengthening the time it takes for your body to digest and absorb carbohydrates and protein. Foods high in fiber like raw vegetables, or bran muffins, also slow down digestion and should be avoided right after exercise. Consuming spicy foods may lead to a serious case of heartburn, which is never any fun for anyone. Next time you finish an intense run, instead of binging on whatever is around, take time to fix something that will nourish your body and promote recovery! Your body will thank you later.
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