Nutrition to Optimise Recovery- Fuelling Athletes to Perform Better
Nutrition to Optimise Recovery – Fuelling Athletes to Perform Better
Nutrition is key to ensuring that an athlete is in the best possible shape to compete at that time; their recovery will be influenced greatly by the rest to recovery ratio possible – if they’ve been training and competing with little opportunity to rest and recover, nutrition is not going to change the world, however you should always intend to mail the nutrition side of things.
You have a reasonable chance of being able to control the nutrition side of recovery to positively influence results; if you prepare and plan.
Why is Optimal Nutrition key to Athlete Recovery?
We need good nutrition when we are trying to recover from intense exercise for:
• refuelling the muscle and liver glycogen (carbohydrate) stores
• replacing the fluid and electrolytes lost in sweat
• manufacturing new muscle protein, red blood cells and other cellular components as part of the repair and adaptation process
• allowing the immune system to handle the damage and challenges caused by the exercise bout
The Anabolic Window
This is the 45 minute period following a workout where your body will try to achieve the following:
• Shift from a Catabolic to Anabolic state
• Speed up the elimination of metabolic wastes by increasing blood flow
• Replenish Glycogen stores
• Initiate tissue repair and set the stage ready for muscle growth
• Reduce muscle damage and boost the immune system that’s just taken a slight beating!
It’s important to try to take on board the best fuel possible during this initial window, not only to maximise this opportunity for recovery, but to try to prolong it and transition well into the next nutritional recovery stage.
45 min window starts immediately post workout!
Nutrients to consume within 45 mins of exercise:
It’s easily digestible, contains all nine essential amino acids your body requires to rebuild, fast acting, easy to buy and is reasonably priced.
High Glycemic Carbs
They are rapidly absorbed and encourage anabolic activity; complex carbs are great to consume via whole foods during the day, however in this prime window for recovery post workout, rapidly absorbed carbs are king. Glucose, Sucrose, maltodextrin and dextrose are ok, fructose and galactose not so good, as they do little to stimulate insulin.
There have been many studies on the best ratio of Carbs to Protein; 3:1 or 4:1 were the optimal ratios during the key time after training. So basically about 3-4 grams of Carbs to every gram of Protein. Simple!
Ideally you would want to include some vitamin E and C too, to combat the free radical damage that will affect muscle cells and more importantly this will give your currently battered immune system a boost.
These nutrients are vital for recovery but after exercise it is unlikely that you will want to eat a large meal. A good overall diet full of variety and many whole foods is important, but to ensure you have optimal rations that you can easily measure are therefore likely to consistently consume, supplemental nutrition is king. Supplements are definitely not better than food but to get maximal optimisation of the nutritional opportunities that arise during our training days we have to act quickly and precisely to deliver just what is required.
The following shakes/drinks I’d recommend for all athletes:
• Energy Phase Drink/Shake – Pre-intra session
• Anabolic Phase Drink/Shake – Post workout (45 mins window)
Recovery eating rather than supplementation
To optimise recovery from a training session, meals (which generally supply all the nutrients needed for recovery) must either be timetabled so that they can be eaten straight after the work-out, or special recovery snacks must be slotted in to cover nutrient needs until the next meal can be eaten.
Finally, although I’ve covered rehydration to a degree as I’ve recommended nutritional beverages here, its worth just re-iterating the importance of hydration.
Athletes should aim to consume 125-150% of their estimated fluid losses in the 4-6 hours after exercise. The recommendation to consume a volume of fluid greater than that lost in sweat takes into account the continued loss of fluid from the body through sweating and obligatory urine losses.
I hope your enjoyed reading this article, if you need anymore advice regarding nutrition and recovery, feel free to comment.