They say your body is a temple…but my body feels less like a temple and more like a dejected ol’ shanty in the woods. This body of mine has taken quite the beat down over the years, but less of a rugby style beat down and more of a, I don’t take enough rest days, kind of beat down. As I grow older I realize more and more the importance of taking care of my body. I am not even exaggerating when I say that I need a SOLID 30 minutes of movement to get this rickety old tank up to speed. My body is kind of like a shitty old car; the kind that needs to sit in the driveway with the engine running for half an hour before it heats up enough to go for a spin. So, if you are anything like me, you might be thinking, what can I do with my diet to recover quicker, feel more like a temple and a little less shacktastic?
Aside from mobility, rest, massage and other forms of physical therapy, what can we do to heal our bodies after a tough week of workouts or a vigorous weekend competition, tournament or race?
Avoid the cheat meal bender – It might be tempting to reward yourself for a job well done with a week long delicious-food-bender, but in the long run this will only hinder your recovery. If you want to have that pizza you set your sights on, then by all means, but lets keep it to one night of pizza and not a full week of blasting pints of Ben & Jerry’s before bed. Re-fueling with calorie dense nutritious foods and cruciferous veggies will be your best bet as they contain Diindolylmethane (DIM) that help the body to metabolize estrogen.
Those Glyc stores tho – (Yes mom, I know that is not how you spell ‘though’). Consume pre or post workout carbs to restore glycogen stores. When Glycogen is depleted our body taps into our muscles for fuel and if we want to make mad gainz this is not beneficial. The 90 minute window post workout is ideal for carb backloading and glyc replenishment.
Tart cherry juice for the win – “The antioxidant activities of these phytochemicals can help reverse oxidative damage resulting from strenuous exercise. Recent research has examined the effect that tart cherry juice consumption has on makers of inflammation and oxidative stress, as well on muscle pain and other symptoms of acute muscle damage resulting from exercise.” http://runnersconnect.net/running-nutrition-articles/tart-cherry-juice-for-body-pain-in-runners/
Numerous studies have found that taking tart cherry juice before/after exercise can significantly reduce inflammation and can even go as far as replacing NSAID’s . Want to know more, check out the research here.
Gotta love BCAA’s – Branch Chain Amino Acids are probably not news to you if you’re a seasoned aggressive exerciser, but if you have been wavering over their worth, I would say the benefits are worthwhile. BCAA’s assist our bodies in using energy more efficiently and can make a significant dent in reducing soreness and muscle damage. They also play a role in protein synthesis in the body which help to prevent our muscles from breaking down. They can be taken pre, post and during workouts for best results!
Water is more than just hydration – Drink it, just drink all of it…as much as you can handle. To replenish electrolytes lost during exercise add 50-80mmol of sodium or sip on a sports recovery drink. BUT, be careful to avoid the excess sugar added to sports drinks. Hydration will increase your energy, lubricate your joints and electrolytes will help you retain all that much needed fluid you’re consuming.
Lube Up – Now don’t be a dirt bag, I am talking Fish Oil! Fish oil helps to reduce inflammation, reduce cortisol (stress hormone) and enhance recovery. It’s probably the most important supplement out there but even more so for athletes who tend to eat high protein diets, which contain large quantities of Omega 6. To balance that ratio out it’s essential to take a high quality Omega 3.
“C” is for …Cumin and Vitamin C – Whoa whoa whoa…I don’t know where your head is at right now, but that spells Cumin, as in Curcumin, which is a spice. We are all about reducing inflammation for recovery and Curcumin (Tumeric) does just that. Its a powerful anti-inflammatory with antioxidant properties that help repair tissue damage. Also, we all know and love Vitamin C, and it is fantastic for immunity and metabolizing cortisol.
Avoid the Sugz – Although sugar tastes like a dreamboat at the time of consumption, the negative effects it has on our metabolism and hormones will not be beneficial in recovery.
Make Anti-oxidants your biotch –Exercise can cause free-radical damage to our cells and this is bad news bears. Consuming antioxidants will help to counter act free radical damage, these are most readily found in fresh fruits and veggies. Also, don’t count out dietary fat which is essential in protecting our muscle membranes. What I am saying is, eat dem nuts.
No PCP – Post competition partying. Alcohol, drugs and sugar, lets be serious….all fun times. BUT, if you really want to recover as quickly as possible, avoid these little jerks.
Zinc, Magnesium & Selenium – These babies help to reduce oxidative stress, inflammation, buffer lactic acid and will help you sleep better. Sleep is the shiz, so don’t waste a chance to get a good one.
Sleep – 8 hours, just make it happen. If you want to recover properly you have to get’er done. The good news is, it IS possible to make up for lost time. Taking in 12 hours on the weekend will help catch you up and get your recovery back on track.
Well, that was the longest post of all time…I will not be offended if you skim through it. What I do know is that, I need to make a greater effort in my own training to recover properly. Proper nutrition, rest, sleep, and mobility are critical to our long term health and can be easily over looked sometimes, but making the effort now will pay off in the long run. People who say…”there are no rest days,” are stupid.