All athletes understand the importance of training for optimal performance; however rest and recovery are just as important to allow the body time to repair and strengthen itself between workouts. Olympian and IsoWhey Sports Ambassador Victoria Mitchell always makes sure she allows plenty of recovery time after a marathon.
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Victoria offers up the five most important reasons why we should never forget to recover after training- especially with winter here.
1. To refuel the body so the body has the energy to make gains and preparation to train again.
Glycogen is the carbohydrate that is stored in your liver and muscles that acts as an energy storehouse for your body.
Your muscles convert glycogen into energy and your body utilises that glycogen throughout the day. This is why it is important to maintain optimal nutrition to keep those stores replenished, because when you do strenuous exercise those stores are quickly depleted.
Eating high GI carbohydrates post workout is essential for replenishing glycogen stores and to refuel. If you don’t replenish these stores, your body won’t be able to recover properly and your performance may suffer during your next workout.
2. To rebuild the body after the stress of training and to repair and adapt to the training stimulus
It is well known that training causes damage to your muscle fibres, plus it puts other forms of stress on the body which forces it to adapt. These processes are all essential parts of increasing strength and fitness, however when this isn’t teamed with a nutritious diet, the body’s inbuilt recovery mechanisms may be inadequate and this could impact the ability to reach your full potential.
To ensure you are rebuilding your body and muscles efficiently after training, it is important you are consuming a well-balanced, nutrient-dense diet daily. Post-workout, special attention should be paid to the consumption of protein, carbohydrates, water and electrolytes.
3. To sleep soundly
Sleep is when the body re-cooperates, repairs, rebuilds and rejuvenates itself, particularly after strenuous exercise. It is really difficult to sleep when you’re hungry or missing key nutrients. The amount of shut eye you get each night can have a significant impact on your metabolism, appetite and your general wellbeing.
Whilst we are sleeping, our bodies are undergoing remarkable change – cells are being repaired, the musculoskeletal system gets to relax and our brains slow down.
The average adult needs roughly eight hours of optimal sleep per night, although when missing key nutrients this is sometimes difficult, particularly when stress plays a role.
From a nutritional standpoint, it is important to ensure you are not deficient in nutrients such a zinc, magnesium, B vitamins, vitamin C, vitamin D3, amino acids and essential fatty acids (such as omega-3 oils from fish) to ensure you’re getting enough sleep to repair and recover.
4. To be able to train hard in following sessions
When participating in strenuous or endurance sports, it is so important to have appropriate recovery to quickly reduce inflammation caused by acute muscle damage, refuel the body with lost nutrients, protect the delicate immune system, allow rehydration and replenish energy stores – all so the body can heal, repair and recover from the depleted state.
As an athlete, protein is the most important nutrient for muscle repair and growth so you can get back into training quickly and without injury.
5. To stay healthy and not get injured from any lack of recovery (knock-on effects)
There are a number of key ways you can prevent injury and recover properly.
Our body requires plenty of hydration in order to function effectively. Dehydration has been shown to reduce performance potential, as well as potentially delay the recovery process. When you are training most days it is important to make sure you are consuming water and electrolytes in order to help avoid dehydration.
Recovery is a time where proper nutrition is essential, in fact, the amount of time it takes for our muscles to recover from a workout can be contingent upon the foods we decide to fuel our bodies with.
Protein sources are required to rebuild muscle tissue and to supply the building blocks for various cells, tissues, enzymes, and hormones.
The easiest ways to get protein into your diet is to consume lean meat, nuts and seeds, green vegetables, avocado, eggs, cottage cheese and high quality protein shakes sourced from grass-fed whey, which are the most popular protein supplements with fitness enthusiasts.