Nutrition and Recovery

In previous articles we have discussed the importance of pre and post workout nutrition and basic athletic supplementation, but the consistent total recovery of an athlete is a 24 hour process that must be adhered to for maximum results. Without the proper recovery scheme being implemented an athlete will suffer detrimental performance loss, plateau more often, and waste the benefits of precious training sessions. The core elements of a true complete recovery, while simple, make the difference between constantly taking yourself to the next level and stagnant fruitless training. The recovery stage of training is so often neglected that it becomes the true Achilles heel of many athletes. Read more below to help structure your recovery properly.

Proper Recovery is Key

Proper Recovery is Key

Science of Recovery

During exercise and physical exertion the muscles of an athlete receive micro-tears in the muscle fiber tissue. These micro-tears not only cause the sensation soreness but are responsible for the muscle being rebuilt larger and stronger. These fibers are constantly being repaired after an athlete finishes a workout and therefore there is a biological increase in protein synthesis to help aid recovery. The increase in protein synthesis allows protein to be metabolized faster and more efficiently specifically for the purpose of the recovery of the muscular skeletal system. Without proper sleep, recovery time, and food, the muscles of an athlete will never fully recover and thus yield subpar and plateaued results. In summary, the muscles are broken down in the gym and built back up in kitchen and bed. There must proper effort on both ends of the spectrum (exercise-recover) for optimal aesthetic and athletic results.

Sleep

The sleep needs of people depends on age, level of activity, and personal factors. It is recommended that the average adult get 8 hours of sleep but this number can increase given an increase in athletic activity and exertion. The average American gets 6.5 hours of sleep and 20% get less than 6 hours. That puts the majority of the population at a significantly reduced recovery rate. Athletes cannot afford to be anywhere this number in order to maintain their athletic progression.

During sleep, the body the body goes into a hyper recovery mode where it is inundated with recovery hormones such as testosterone and growth hormone. These hormones are primarily released at night during the deep stages of sleep and crucial for recovery, protein synthesis, energy, mood, strength, and overall mental/physical wellbeing. Without the proper release of these hormones the body will not only age faster but it will not perform at it’s peak because there will not be proper recovery the night before. Exercise helps maintain and increase the levels of these hormones especially as we age, which can help you looking and feeling younger. In order to reap these benefits from exercise you must sleep properly and deeply. Sleep tips-

  • Eat something before bed but not immediately before. You want to provide nutrients for your body to use during the night and to aid in recovery. Without proper before bed nutrition the body can go catabolic, and break down precious and hard earned muscle tissue.
  • Avoid light at all costs.
  • Avoid electronic distractions such as TV’s and Cellphones that can keep you awake.
  • Use your bedroom for sex and sleep only.
  • Lower the temperature. We tend to sleep better at slightly lower than room temperature level.

Food

This is one of the most neglected aspects of training. You cannot out train a bad diet and what you fuel your body with dictates your results. Food is bodyweight, strength, size, fuel, and energy. Athletes who have trouble gaining/losing/maintaining weight are always subpar in the nutrition department of their training. Muscles are fueled by glycogen which is from carbohydrates. Once the body’s muscle glycogen stores are filled, the rest is stored as fat. The body was not meant to be sedentary, therefore a diet heavy in carbohydrates without exertion leaves to excessive fat storage. Protein is used for thousands of body processes from hair to rebuilding muscles, and it is one of the only nutrients that the body cannot store. Therefore protein needs to be constistantly consumed and athletes need significantly increased amounts due to the muscles recovering. Fats get a bad reputation due to the widespread use of unhealthy unnatural processed fats. Consumption of quality and healthy fats such as omega-3 fats are essential for brain function, joint lubrication, and production of hormones.

Fuel the body

Fuel the body

It is essential for an athlete to consume enough protein for recovery, carbohydrates to restore glycogen, and fats for overall health. The most important time to consume protein is within the vital 1 hour post-workout window where the body’s protein synthesis is spiked the muscles are primed for excessive absorbtion of nutrients. Proper nutrition upon waking is also essential as not only does it set the body’s anabolic tone for the rest of the day but after sleep the body is eager for nutrients. An athlete can manipulate their bodyweight, body fat, and muscular size depending on the caloric and macronutritent intake. In order to gain healthy weight, you must exceed your caloric maintenance number with quality calories in conjunction with a strenuous workout regimen. In order to lose weight, implement a workout program with a slightly reduced but consistant reduced caloric intake, minimizing carbohydrates while keeping protein high. This will place your body in a state of ketosis, which will yield a steady bodyweight and body fat reduction while helping to preserve muscle.

Tips for nutrition-

  • Consume quality unprocessed carbohydrates prior to training to restore muscle glycogen
  • Avoid overly processed food at all costs.
  • Eat enough protein for muscle maintenance and recovery.
  • Manipulate your diet for the results you want by paying attention to the numbers.
  • Consistency is key, There are no fast and easy results.
  • Implement fruits and vegetables for essential vitamins, minerals, and health.
  • Abs are built in the kitchen, not in the gym.

-Papa Swole

(This is an original post copyright to SwoleScience.com, credited to the aforementioned author. Its reproduction is strictly prohibited. All rights reserved to the original authors of any quoted or embedded material)

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2 Responses

  1. Teresa says:

    Loved the article. My diet and supplementation is right on track. Unfortunately the place I lack is sleep. I only get about 6 hours per night. My husband gets home at 8:15…kids go to bed at 9:30…I go to bed at 10:30 so I can spend 1 hour of uninterrupted time with my hubby. I want to talk to him, and of course have sex, so that is the only time to spend together. I am weight training 4x/week and cardio 6x/week (30-40 minutes per day). I feel fine except for a period in the afternoon. I can’t nap at work. I want to get more sleep but don’t know how to fit it in. Does a short nap early evening count as additional time on top the 6 I am getting?

  1. September 10, 2013

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