Common Mistake #1: Recovery after training and competition is not taken seriously

24 05 2010

I would like to take the 5 mistakes mentioned in my previous post from May17th, 2010 and expand on each one.  The first mistake concerns not focusing on recovery.  One definition of recovery is returning to a normal and better condition.  For athletes, this is getting their body back to how it was prior to the training session or competition.  The quicker someone recovers, the sooner they can train or compete at an optimal level again.  What changes occur during training and competition that bodies need to recover from?

First, carbohydrates are stored in the muscle in the form of glycogen.  Your body uses this glycogen for energy during activity.  Think of this as refueling your muscles.  One analogy I hear used all the time is comparing our bodies to cars.  Think of carbohydrates as the gasoline you put in your cars.  One role of eating carbohydrates after a workout is refueling – like putting gas in a car after a long trip.  Another role of carbohydrate is limiting the damage caused by exercise.  Exercise can cause an increase in the hormone cortisol, which can lead to the breakdown of muscle.  Eating carbohydrates will decrease the amount of cortisol in our blood, thus decreasing the amount of muscle that is broken down.  Depending on the intensity and length of exercise, you should multiply your body weight by 0.4 to 1 gram to calculate the amount of carbohydrates needed.

Second, but no less important, is protein.  Our bodies also need protein after workouts and competitions to repair the damage that occurred.  Exercise puts our body in a catabolic state.  This means that our bodies are breaking down muscle.  If we don’t get the right food in after a workout, we won’t gain all the benefits from the hard work just completed.  People make the false assumption that exercise builds muscle.  Instead, it is the combination of exercise and proper fueling that stimulates our body to repair and build muscle.  The type of exercise and your body weight dictate how much protein you need.  A good target to aim for is at least 20 grams of protein.  Generally, I recommend multiplying your weight by 0.2 grams for optimal recovery.

Third, we need re-hydration.  This is simply replacing the water used during the exercise.  To know how much you should replace, you should weigh yourself in minimal clothing before and after the exercise bout.  This weight loss represents the water loss that needs to be replaced for your body to function optimally.  General guidelines are to drink 20 oz for every pound you lose.  This can be water, a sports drink to provide the necessary carbohydrates, or a drink that contains protein.

The last thing I would recommend is having some food that has anti-inflammatory properties.  This can also allow for quicker recovery.  Foods that have anti-inflammatory properties include cherries, berries, pineapple, and foods that contain Omega-3 fats (ex. salmon and walnuts).

By focusing on these four areas after workouts, you will optimally recover from your workout and see the improvements you desire.

© Randy Bird, MS, RD, CSSD, CSCS and Randy Bird Sports Nutrition, 2010.

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Five Common Mistakes Athletes Make…

17 05 2010

Athletes can sabotage their hard work by making any of these common mistakes.

  1. Recovery after training and competition is not taken seriously.
    Protein and carbohydrate recovery after a training or workout session are essential in order to gain the benefits of the workout.  Consuming carbohydrates after a workout are needed to replenish stores in the body that were used up.  When working out, muscles are damaged.  Consuming protein after a workout helps to repair those muscle tissues faster therefore decreasing the amount of breakdown and getting the most out of the workout you just completed.  Recovery is crucial in reaping the benefits from your hard work.
  2. Inadequate amount of sleep.
    Inadequate sleep has also been shown to decrease muscle gain and increase fat gain.  Lack of sleep is associated with decreased levels of growth hormone and increased levels of cortisol.  Aim for 8 hours of sleep each night.  Getting enough sleep is imperative for the body to maintain optimal function.
  3. Skipping breakfast.
    If you skip breakfast, you are more likely to be overly hungry later. And then, you’re more likely to overeat at lunch and/or dinner.  “Backloading” or eating more at the end of the day than the beginning is associated with less muscle mass and higher amounts of body fat.
  4. Inadequate consumption of fruits and vegetables.
    The vitamins, minerals and antioxidants in these foods will help with recovery from strenuous workouts and competitions as well as keep your body healthy to ward off illness.  They also provide fiber and an additional source of water for hydration.
  5. Inadequate fluid intake.
    Plan ahead and carry a water bottle with you.  Divide your weight in half.  This is the minimum amount of fluid ounces you should strive to drink daily.  Alcoholic beverages do not count.  The more you workout out, the more you need drink in addition to this.

© Randy Bird, MS, RD, CSSD, CSCS and Randy Bird Sports Nutrition, 2010.