How to Maximize Post-Workout Recovery

 In Blog, Health, Muscle

For those who hit the gym on a regular basis… muscle fatigue, soreness, and pain can stop you in your tracks. The question of how to best provide adequate recovery nutrition to your muscles, post workout, comes up time and again. The bottom line is that there is not a “magic” pill or drink. Maximizing recovery is a bit more complex than simply filling your stomach immediately after your cardio or strength-building session. It is all about the nutrients you feed your body regularly that helps you recover faster from your workouts.

Is your goal to improve balance, strength, and endurance? Most of us are not going to compete or play a professional sport. However, we do realize the importance of regular exercise. And that regular exercise can leave us sore and fatigued to the point of not keeping up with our intended healthcare routine.

Science has come a long way to help athletes improve performance and fitness. Today, that same knowledge is used in exercise and nutrition and is available to the general public. Principles used for athletes has crossed over to various types of physical therapy, yoga, and exercise classes across the country. This functional exercise is excellent news! But it can still leave behind soreness after the session is complete.

There is a key to recovery. Nutritional therapists, occupational therapists, physical therapists, and sports medicine experts all agree on the importance of replenishing glycogen levels and providing protein for your muscles immediately after a workout.

The refeed to your muscles help reduce soreness, increase recovery time, and improve muscle strength. This replenishing allows you to be able to push it a bit harder during exercise and return to your activities quicker.

Most people understand the concept of “you can’t out-exercise a poor diet.” The foods you eat, not only the day of your workout but also, over time, impact the body and its functions as a whole.

In simple terms, two nutrition factors are essential in post-workout recovery:

  1. Carbohydrates
  2. Protein

For you to optimize recovery, both macronutrients need to come from quality sources. Following an exercise session, your body is attempting to rebuild glycogen stores and repair muscle proteins that have been depleted and broken down; this helps to stimulate the growth of new muscle.

BCAAs and Muscle Recovery

BCAAs consist of three amino acids—leucine, isoleucine, and valine. They activate protein synthesis and help prevent the breakdown of muscular tissue. The body cannot synthesize these essential building blocks; therefore, they must come from a food source.

BCAAs are widely used as an exercise recovery supplement because they help preserve muscle glycogen stores that fuel your muscles and minimize protein breakdown. Therefore, they can help anyone get the most of their gym sessions—especially those who practice high-intensity interval training and weightlifting.

There has been conflicting evidence as to whether BCAA’s enhance athletic and sports performance. However, the mounds of data pointing to muscle recovery are growing.

“Since the 1980’s there has been high interest in branched-chain amino acids (BCAA) by sports nutrition scientists. The metabolism of BCAA is involved in some specific biochemical muscle processes, and many studies have been carried out to understand whether sports performance can be enhanced by a BCAA supplementation. However, many of these researchers have failed to confirm this hypothesis. Thus, in recent years investigators have changed their research target and focused on the effects of BCAA on the muscle protein matrix and the immune system. Data show that BCAA supplementation before and after exercise has beneficial effects on decreasing exercise-induced muscle damage and promoting muscle protein synthesis. Muscle damage develops delayed onset muscle soreness: a syndrome that occurs 24-48 h after intensive physical activity that can inhibit athletic performance. Other recent works indicate that BCAA supplementation recovers peripheral blood mononuclear cell proliferation in response to mitogens after a long distance intense exercise, as well as plasma glutamine concentration. The BCAA also modifies the pattern of exercise-related cytokine production, leading to a diversion of the lymphocyte immune response towards a Th1 type. According to these findings, it is possible to consider the BCAA as a useful supplement for muscle recovery and immune regulation for sports events.”[i]

How does this impact the average gym goer who isn’t looking to compete in an athletic event?

If you are looking to up your workout routine intensity and get to the gym regularly, you need some things to line up that enable you to reach your goals…

  • Increased energy to complete the workouts
  • Decreased muscle soreness to reduce injury
  • Boosted immunity to prevent illnesses that keep you from getting to the gym
  • Adequate rest that enables the body to repair itself during sleep
  • Healthy eating habits to get the most noticeable benefits from exercises

*Did you know?….

“As a rule of thumb, weight loss is generally 75 percent diet and 25 percent exercise. An analysis of more than 700 weight loss studies found that people see the biggest short-term results when they eat smart. On average, people who dieted without exercising for 15 weeks lost 23 pounds; the exercisers lost only six over about 21 weeks. It’s much easier to cut calories than to burn them off. For example, if you eat a fast-food steak quesadilla, which can pack 500-plus calories, you need to run more than four miles to ‘undo’ it!”—Shawn M. Talbott, Ph.D., nutritional biochemist and former director of the University of Utah Nutrition Clinic.

Best Vitamins for Exercise Recovery

The human body, being incredibly complex, doesn’t depend on carbohydrates and proteins alone for recovery. Needed are a host of essential vitamins and minerals to complete bio-synthesis and the regeneration of healthy new cells. Unfortunately, some people are provided limited information regarding carb and protein nutrients for recovery. Your body benefits immensely from anti-inflammatory, blood sugar regulation, and anti-oxidant compounds found in a number of vitamins and minerals.

Let’s take a look at the benefits of some of these overlooked recovery vitamins.

  • Magnesium— Magnesium helps the body break down glucose and convert it into energy. This is vital for muscle contraction protein synthesis, efficient metabolism of various nutrients (such as calcium and potassium), proper heart functionality, and maintaining proper blood pressure.
  • Niacin (Vitamin B3) Vitamin B3 is one of eight B vitamins. It is also known as niacin. Like the other B vitamins, B3 helps convert carbohydrates, proteins, and fat into usable energy for the body. All B vitamins, also called vitamin B-complex, are water-soluble. Water-soluble means the body does not store them up to use later. Therefore, the body must be replenished with them daily.
  • Vitamin C Vitamin C helps to repair and regenerate tissues, protect against heart disease, and aid in the absorption of iron. Also known as ascorbic acid, vitamin C is a water-soluble nutrient found in some foods. In the body, it acts as an antioxidant, helping to protect cells from the damage caused by free radicals.
  • Potassium Potassium is an electrolyte mineral that plays a key role in body functions. It blunts the effects of sodium to help maintain normal blood pressure, regulates fluid and mineral balance in the body, promotes muscle contraction, along with a number of other biological processes.

These vitamins and minerals are only part of the whole but are still relevant. To get the listed vitamins above, BCAAs, plus the other essential amino acids, along with a plethora of other nutrients, check out the benefits of Dead Sea Moringa.

A balance of nutrition is not always easy but it is a necessity for optimal health. Don’t become overly concerned, as there are easy ways to get quality vitamins, minerals, and amino acids into your diet every day. Click here to find out more!

[i] US National Library of Medicine National Institute of Health

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