When it comes to recovery, I am all-in. I use a recovery “snack,” after any ride or training that’s harder than “easy,” and I do my best to consume it right away…which means ease of preparation, and having it ready ahead of time are key.
Here are my favorites, and the components of basic and advanced recovery nutrition:
Loving the BITE: 5 Recovery Favorites
Raw Cocoa Chocolate Milk – This is a staple in my house and one of my kids favorite snacks (I omit the extra amino acids when I mix it initially, and then add them to my individual cup for recovery when needed). If looking for a non-dairy and/or vegetarian option, it can be made using non-dairy milk + a good protein powder such as Orgain.
New Favorite Recovery Smoothie – This has a wonderful combination of delicious fresh flavors and great recovery nutrients! Really, how do you beat cherries, ginger and lime? To make it non-dairy or vegetarian, replace the yogurt with a non-dairy yogurt, chia pudding, or a protein powder.
Chia Pudding – Yum and yum. This easy, vegetarian treat is one of my favorite snacks and recovery options. It works great by itself, or use it in place of other dairy when needed. It’s a powerhouse of vegetarian protein OR it can be made with dairy milk or yogurt.
Avocado Egg Salad Sandwich – Delish! A favorite lunch or recovery. You don’t have to use a drink, a pudding, or a commercial mix for recovery – you can use real foods so long as they include a great protein (eggs are one of the best) and some carbs. Paired with a slice or two of sourdough bread, and voila, you’ve got yourself the tastiest recovery around.
Carborocket Rehab – This is my pick for commercial mixes, hands down (and since I like it, I’ve got a coupon code for you – Apex2014 at checkout). Not only does it contain the all-so-important amino acids, it uses other high-quality ingredients and has a great taste. And although it does contain whey, it’s lactose free and easy to tolerate. Can’t do whey or want a vegetarian mix, Vega Performance is another good option.
As promised, we’ll review the key components of recovery this week. We’ll start with the basics, and go beyond them to advanced. Then, if you can stand the suspense, wait until next week to discuss the pros & cons of going dairy-free, including why (and why not) athletes should try it.
For now, let’s talk recovery.
During a season of hard training, you’re gonna feel it. No pain, no gain, right? No matter what you do, or what you eat, if you’re pushing your muscles, you will experience some soreness and fatigue. But, it shouldn’t routinely impair further training.
One of the best habits any athlete can get into is to provide the body, muscles, and cells with much-needed nutrients as soon as possible after training.
Three Basic Nutrients for Optimal Recovery Are:
This macronutrient replenished the glycogen in the liver and muscles that’s been used up in training.
Any athlete who’s main goal is performance (rather than fat loss) should aim for .25-.50 grams of carbs per body weight as soon as possible after training.
With intense training or session >90 minutes, I recommend a recovery snack with these carbs in addition to regular meals/snacks.
If less intense, shorter, or with fat loss goals in mind, an athlete can use a normal meal/snack as the recovery as soon as possible after training.
Protein helps repair muscle cells, build muscle cells, and provide the body with nutrients to burn rather than its own muscles.
Ten to thirty grams of protein as soon as possible after training can improve recovery.
What’s more, a combination of slow-acting proteins (like casein from dairy, soy and proteins in meats) and fast-acting proteins (whey from dairy or albumin from eggs) can improve immediate and long-lasting muscle retention.
Fluids and Electrolytes
It’s important to crawl out of a dehydrated state as soon as possible after training, and this takes both fluids and electrolytes.
For fluids, a good rule of thumb is 16-32 ounces fluid per hour training during and immediately after.
During the Spring and Summer, error on the high side and aim for 20 ounces per hour during training and another 12 oz. per hour immediately afterwards.
Electrolytes are often naturally replenished with foods, but if you’ve had an all-out effort in high heat or humidity & have sweat a lot, proactively add them in. I recommend ~400 mg sodium from 1/6 tsp salt, 2 sodium supplements (such as S-Caps or Salt Sticks) or 1/2 large pickle. I recommend getting potassium from fruits. And now, you can take it a step further
My work with hundreds of serious endurance athletes, specifically on training and recovery, has led me to recommend these recovery ingredients with complete confidence.
Three Advanced Recovery Ingredients Include:
These healthy gut bacteria do more than keep you regular.
Athletes can experience two important benefits when they are added to recovery:
- The bacteria improve the immediate digestion and absorption of the other nutrients in recovery allowing them to be delivered to muscle cells faster.
- Probiotics specifically improve the immune function in endurance athletes, especially in regards to chronic colds, mononucleosis and fatigue associated with over-training.
L-Glutamine & Branch Chain Amino Acids
L-glutamine is an amino acid used by the gut cells and skeletal muscles cells. While sedentary people likely receive adequate l-glutamine through regular protein foods and the constant breakdown/repair of muscles, athletes often become deficient due to their high skeletal muscle demands.
Likewise, Branch Chain Amino Acids are in high demand in an athlete’s body, and are often not replenished in adequate amounts. They are used by the skeletal muscles and the brain.
Supplementing l-glutamine and BCAAs in recovery can significantly reduce soreness and shorten recovery duration. Simply add 5 grams of each (from a supplemental powder such as Now l-glutamine and Now BCAAs) to your recovery meal or snack.
Ginger & Turmeric
These natural Superfood Spices are loaded with anti-inflammatories, antioxidants, and phytochemicals in abundance, all which contributes to optimal cell recovery.
What’s more, they are both known traditionally to reduce joint pain and improve joint health.
In recent years, studies have shown that ginger is also effective in reducing muscle soreness in athletes before and after training. In fact, in one study, participants took either 2 grams ginger or placebo each day for several days before strenuous exercise with the ginger participants experiencing a 25% reduction in soreness compared to the placebo participants.
Turmeric has been as effective as medication in pain reduction in studies.
To get enough ginger and turmeric for ongoing recovery, try either 500-1000 mg of each through supplements (examples include Nature’s Way Ginger and Nature’s Bounty Turmeric), OR 1 Tbsp each fresh ginger root & turmeric root per day OR 1/2 tsp of each in the ground form.
This week, get a plan in place to recover well, every time. Whether you find your favorite recovery among my list or on your own, make sure it’s got all the basics, and then add in the advanced (as many as possible) if you’d like. Your hurts-so-good body will thank you!
Fuel Your Ride. Nourish Your Body.
If you’d like to work with Kelli one-on-one with a Custom Nutrition Plan & Coaching, or download one of her acclaimed Instant Download Plans like Fuel Right Race Light, click here: Apex Nutrition Plans for Endurance Athletes. Be sure to use coupon code lovingthebike for a 15% discount!