by Andy Dutra, Clemente Center Personal Trainer
Many athletes (both professional and recreational) often overlook the importance of what happens AFTER a great workout –> RECOVERY!!! Recovery is the secret to seeing the gains and achieving the goals you have set for yourself.
What Exactly is Recovery?:
Recovery is more than just resting your muscles or taking a ice bath. If you’re training hard, but still not seeing the results you’d like, it’s likely due to a lack of proper nutritional support. You deserve to reap the benefits of the time and effort you’ve put into training, but that requires some effort in the kitchen too. A little extra mindfulness of the key components of recovery nutrition and you’ll be on your way to the results you desire.
Protein synthesis and muscle glycogen recovery:
What you eat immediately after exercise is critical for muscle recovery, and a ratio of 4 parts carbohydrate to 1 part protein is optimal so you can train again tomorrow1. Carbohydrates help replace what was burned during exercise, thereby speeding recovery and protein initiates the muscular repair process and helps the carbohydrates enter the blood stream more quickly.
Immediately following stressful events like training, the immune system dramatically drops, increasing the risk of illness2. It’s common for athletes who train consistently and are in peak shape to have a subpar immune system. Supplementing for immune support can help combat this effect and decrease the odds of getting sick. Immune boosting ingredients like astragalus3, zinc, and L-Arginine4 can counter the immunity dip if taken immediately after training, ultimately increasing the ability to train more before compromising immune function.
Soft tissue recovery:
Physical activity creates micro tears in muscle, tendons, ligaments, and connective tissue. The correct ratio of protein and carbs helps muscles repair and replenish quickly, becoming stronger than their previous workout level; but solely focusing on muscle recovery will increase risk of injury since muscles will recover faster than the often-neglected soft tissue. Comprised of cartilage, they lack the ability to store carbohydrate or have blood circulation; thus soft tissue recovery needs are specific and completely different from that of muscles. Speeding muscular recovery without addressing tendon or ligament recovery will create an imbalance and likely lead to strain and/or connective tissue injury. Glucosamine and zinc citrate work directly on soft tissue recovery.
Intense physical training adversely effects hormonal health, causing cortisol to rise and inhibit the body’s ability to recover swiftly, sleep deeply, tone muscle, and lose body fat. Not addressing hormonal health leads to the common, yet widely unrecognized, hormonal injury. Hormonal neglect results in athletic stagnation or what is known as the dreaded “plateau”. Without adequate hormonal recovery, sleep quality will be reduced and the body won’t physiologically be able to slip into the deep delta phase of sleep where cellular regeneration takes place. American Ginseng—an ingredient in Vega Sport Recovery Accelerator—is among the most widely used adaptogens in herbal medicine, and is taken to support hormonal recovery, ensuring you can get up and train again tomorrow.
Regular exercise releases endorphins that bring about a sense of well-being, yet consistent competitive training commonly causes irritability, mood swings, and often symptoms similar to depression. Mental recovery is equally as vital to performance as physical recovery, yet it is often over looked and can manifest as apathy which can dramatically slow training progress. Therefore, post-workout, it’s important to consume foods that contain high levels of tryptophan, which will help the body naturally produce serotonin—also known as the “feel good hormone.” Serotonin will instigate and enhance that sense of well-being and reignite your enjoyment of exercise and the desire to train, while also enabling you to mentally focus on your workouts. Tryptophan can be found in particularly high amounts in SaviSeeds (sacha inchi seeds), and can also be found in peas, brown rice, legumes, seeds, and beans.
1) Clark, N. (2004). Recovery from Hard Exercise. Palaestra, 20(2), 47.
2) Gleeson, M. (2006). Immune system adaptation in elite athletes. Current Opinion in Clinical Nutrition and Metabolic Care, 9:659-665.
3) Health Canada. (2011). Compendium of Monographs. Accessed on August 5. 2011, fromhttp://webprod.hc-sc.gc.ca/nhpid-bdipsn/monosReq.do?lang=eng.
4) Rainer, B.H. (2007). The pharmacodynamics of L-arginine. The Journal of Nutrition, 137(6), 1650-1655S
(reproduced in part from myvega.com)