Reload, Refuel, Get Results!
Athletes (and yes, if you are working out for general fitness, you are an athlete!) tend to have laser-like focus when it comes to their workouts and training. And, as athletes, we are always looking for ways to tweak our training so that we can improve overall fitness, body composition, endurance, strength, power and speed. What if it was possible to help assist in improving all of these factors without having to train more or train harder? Well, it is very possible to do so. One of the main keys is to put some focus and attention towards fueling the body properly prior to each workout. Athletes lead very busy lives and as a result, once a workout is completed, we're off to our next task for the day. And, many times, this means that the proper recovery fuel did not find its way into the mix. Nutrition is a very dynamic process; it's not static. Therefore, the fuel we are putting into our bodies post workout is not just helping to assist in recovery from that specific workout. Rather, this recovery fuel is also helping to assist in fueling our body properly for tomorrow's workout. Here are a few refueling tips that will help to improve recovery which in turn will help to improve performance.
Load & Reload Muscle Glycogen
Glycogen is the storage form of glucose that is stored in the liver and muscles. Reloading and replenishing glycogen stores following a workout is one of the main keys to recovery success. The main macronutrient that will help with reloading glycogen is carbohydrate. Yes, that's right, carbohydrates. If anyone tells you to cut out carbohydrates or that vegetables can be your carbohydrates, unfortunately, you are being given very bad information. When carbohydrates are consumed post workout, this stimulates insulin production, which helps in muscle glycogen production.
In addition to ingesting carbohydrates following a workout, research also shows that a recovery fuel source containing carbohydrate and protein can nearly double the insulin response. In turn, this results in more glycogen storage. In addition, the protein will also provide the body with amino acids which can help assist in muscle recovery.
Now that we understand the importance of carbohydrates and protein following our workouts, how much of each is ideal? Research shows that a carbohydrate: protein ratio of either 4:1 or 5:1 is optimal for reloading. This means 4 or 5 g of carbohydrate to every 1 g of protein. All too often, athletes think that protein, and more of it, is the key to recovery. That is not the case. More protein following a workout is going to slow glycogen replenishment and rehydration; both of which would be huge negatives to the athletes’ recovery process. Liquid calories tend to be a great go-to recovery fuel source for athletes as they are easily digested and absorbed. For example, a recovery drink/fuel source containing approximately 10g of protein and approximately 40-50g of carbohydrate would be ideal for maximizing glycogen replenishment. In terms of when recovery fuel should be consumed following a workout, there have been various ‘magic window’ time frames mentioned. Ideally, post workout fuel consumed 15-30 minutes following a workout is ideal in order to properly reload glycogen.
As important as reloading glycogen is following a workout, rehydration is just as important. Just as we discussed earlier in regards to proper post workout recovery fuel helping to assist in improving future workouts, the same holds true for proper rehydration. If we do not properly rehydrate following each workout, we will then go into our next workout slightly dehydrated. This can easily start to negatively compound on itself and athletes can quickly find themselves in an acute or even chronic state of dehydration. One quick and easy way to determine how much water you need following a workout is to weight yourself before and after your workout. For every 1-pound that you lose during your workout, consume 16-24 ounces of water. Yes, that may seem like quite a bit, but this is necessary in order to promote proper rehydration. In addition to water, your body may also require additional electrolytes following a workout (sodium-potassium-magnesium-calcium) depending on length, duration, intensity, weather conditions, etc. during your workout. These electrolytes can be very easy to consume following a workout. For example, emptying the contents of an electrolyte capsule into your recovery drink is an easy and convenient way to have all of your recovery fuel needs in one beverage.
If you are looking to change your body composition and maximize recovery & performance, put these recovery-fueling tips into action.
Let's make greatness happen!
Dr. Rick Kattouf II
2x Best-Selling Author
Named One Of The World Fitness Elite® Trainers Of The Year
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