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Nutrition for Recovery

Food provides us with the energy we need to perform regular cellular and metabolic functions, and the necessary energy to workout and recover! When we fail to pay attention to our food intake in both how much we eat and what we eat, we fail to provide our bodies with what it needs to recover and adapt! Ultimately, this means we aren’t maximizing the positive effects that could be achieved from our workouts when we don’t eat properly. 


The body is only able to adapt and grow based on its ability to recover! If the body cannot recover adequately enough to allow for the next hard workout session, overtraining and detraining may occur. To maximize our results from training, we need to ensure our post exercise eating is spot on! 


The first way we can start to rebuild and repair our muscle tissue after we exercise is by consuming carbohydrates! The replenishment of glycogen in the muscle is crucial for muscle repair and tissue adaptation. Failing to eat any carbohydrates or only having .3g - .8g carbs per kg bodyweight (BW) will not elicit enough glycogen replenishment in the muscle to begin to repair. The research suggests that 1.2g carbohydrate/kg BW showed up to 150% increase in muscle glycogen replenishment when compared to .8g per kg BW (1). This means that we need to make sure we are eating enough carbohydrates after we exercise to replenish our muscle stores. Delaying the intake of your food beyond two hours has shown to have a negative impact in glycogen replenishment and overall muscle soreness. Great post workout snacks can include any of the following or a combination of a few: apples, bananas, oranges, dates, granola, fruit smoothies, peanut butter jelly sandwiches, and honey just to name a few! 


Another way we can help support the rebuilding process is by consuming protein! The amino acid we want to pay attention to is Leucine! Leucine is essential for building muscle and while leucine has not been shown to help with glycogen replenishment within 3 days of training, it has shown to increase glycogen stores in the muscle tissue up to 7 days after training when compared to a non-leucine supplement group (2). An increase in glycogen stores is a direct link to increased performance! To get leucine into the body we can consume foods like chicken breast, canned beans, lentils, cottage cheese, peanuts, salmon and yogurt (3)!


The overall goal is to get as much replenishment of carbohydrates and protein after your workout. Not only is eating enough post workout necessary but eating enough throughout the day is also just as important. Even if you ate 1.2g of carbs/1kg BW and some protein post workout but failed to eat enough food to keep you at a calorie maintenance, your body will struggle to repair and adapt. You must be in a caloric maintenance or surplus to give your body the chance to grow! FOOD IS FUEL!


If you aren’t building muscle or have been struggling to gain strength in your lifts, you may need to check your diet! Not eating enough protein and being in a calorie deficit will limit your ability to see any increases in the gym or changes to your body!


            Rat study on eccentric exercise, glucose/atp recovery

            Meta analysis on carbohydrate type, timing and protein intake                               

            Leucine rich food choices


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