5 Tips for Better Recovery
In the sports nutrition world, there is always talk about recovery… but what should you really be doing during recovery? Manual/physical modes of recovery like stretching, massage, rolling out, cool-down exercises, and saunas may be common, but what about the nutritional recovery required to maximize the effect of your training? Dietitians and many other sports professionals focus on the three R’s of Recovery - Refuel, Rebuild, Rehydrate!
1. Recovery should happen after EVERY workout.
Yes, I said it even if it was under an hour, you need to add a nutritional recovery component to your post-training routine. Consider your workout to be the center of a target, the closer (in time) you get recovery to that center of the target the more effective and accurate your body is at using the nutrition you are recovering with to refuel and repair the damage done through exercise. In a perfect world, we’d love the window to be by 30-60 minutes post-exercise, but if for some reason it is extended past that time, don’t worry you can still consume nutrition and it will help you, but consistency between 30-60 minutes is best practice.
2. Recovery may look different every day!
One of the goals of recovery is to replenish your lost glycogen stores. A good place to start is to get 1-1.2g/kg of your body weight in carbohydrates after a workout. This is especially important if you are doing multiple workouts daily and are trying to refuel and recover more quickly for the next activity.
3. You don’t have to eat the same thing after every workout
Depending on the time of day, your level of hunger, the intensity of your workout, how much time you have to prepare for recovery, and temperatures you may have to consider different types of recovery. My go-to option is usually a liquid option, this is great for athletes who may not have a great appetite after exercise or are on the go and want something quick and easy. This option also allows you to include the hydration component of recovery more easily. Try Skratch Recovery Mix for a great option that is comparable to one of the easiest/best recovery drinks recommended by sports dietitians, chocolate milk! If you’re not quite hungry but need something more substantial a snack may be a good option - bars, pretzel + hummus, and half a sandwich are some of our favorites. How about if it’s time for a meal and you’re HANGRY?! Well go ahead and get that meal in. Whatever works for you, works for us! Just make sure there is a balance of carbs and protein so you can maximize the effectiveness of your nutrition.
4. What about protein?
Protein is important to help promote growth and repair (the rebuild part of the 3 R’s) but most of us focus too highly on protein intake and don’t realize we may be over-consuming. Typically athletes should consume a range of 1-2.2 g/kg of body weight per DAY, and a range can be helpful to help you get more when you are recovering from more intense exercise or recovering from injury. Our activity isn’t static so our eating habits shouldn’t be either. Distributing protein throughout the day is much more important than trying to get all of it post-workout or at dinner time! Note: if you are a plant-based athlete, you may need to increase or consume on the higher end of the range to get adequate amounts of leucine.
5. Don’t forget to rehydrate.
Dehydration is common during exercise, and all we want to do is minimize that loss as much as we possibly can. For every pound of body weight lost during exercise, we should be trying to get 16-24 ounces of water to help rehydrate as well as adding in electrolytes for excessive loss in hydration (especially after those hot or humid workouts!). Sometimes even adding salt to your recovery meal or eating hydrating foods (soups, fruits, vegetables) can help you get back to equilibrium. After all, Skratch has been perfecting hydration/hydration knowledge for 10 years now, we like to think we know hydration well!
Sleep can do wonders for recovery! To learn more, head here.