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Nutrition for Recovery

bowl of healthy foods- avocado, chickpeas, tomatoes, lettuce, sweet potato, pepper, cabbage

Rapid recovery after training is super important. The better you recover, the sooner you can train again, the better you'll perform, and the more benefits you'll get.

The two most important elements of recovery are rest and nutrition. Nutrition can be broken down into four main requirements after long and/ or strenuous exercise.

  1. Protein- this is broken down into amino acids which are used to repair and rebuild muscle fibres damaged during training and to promote muscle growth.

  2. Carbohydrates- these are needed to replenish muscle glycogen, which is used to fuel exercise, and also to top up liver glycogen stores, which are used to maintain correct blood sugar levels. They also stimulate the release of insulin, which helps pull the broken down glucose into muscle cells, aiding recovery.

  3. Water- this is used to replace that lost in sweat, and also to help with muscle glycogen storage, as each gram of glycogen needs roughly 3 grams of water to secure it in place.

  4. Electrolytes- such as sodium, magnesium, chloride and calcium are used to replace those lost when you sweat.

Studies have shown that by adding protein to carbohydrate in a drink or snack post-workout improves muscle protein synthesis during the recovery period. This is highly important as when you exercise, muscle is broken down, with more being lost the harder and longer the exercise is. So the body needs to repair this tissue as quickly and as complete as possible. If this doesn't happen, muscles can become weaker and less efficient. Over time it can reduce your power-to-weight ration and can even increase the risk of injury.

The main thing you should take from this is: the importance of consuming protein, carbohydrate, water and electrolytes during the first two hours after exercise for optimal recovery.

To summarise, protein, carbohydrate, water and electrolytes are essential post-exercise for optimal recovery. Muscles are broken down during exercise and they need to be repaired as quickly and fully as possible.


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