Eating for Workouts and Recovery
It has been a common notion that "breakfast is the most important meal of the day", and for a good reason, and I'll explain why.
Your body metabolizes energy throughout the day, during activity, after eating, and even while you are sleeping. After a period of time, the energy, or fuel will deplete depending on the metabolic demands on the body. It is like your body acts as a vehicle that has to commute each day, some days it has to travel far, other days it has to stop and go. Fueling up during breakfast is like filling up the gas tank before the car goes on the road, whether the tank is empty or partially filled.
To get the most out of fueling up for breakfast, a balance of carbohydrates AND protein should be consumed. Carbohydrates low on the glycemic index (like oatmeal, bran, almonds, greek yogurt) will act like a "time-release" source of fuel that is necessary for activity or work. Having protein sources like eggs, greek yogurt, or whey protein shake will also cause the carbohydrate intake to not digest immediately.
Eating for recovery on the other hand, needs to cover a range of processes:
Replenishing the muscle and liver glycogen stores
Consuming protein to assist with muscle repair
Restoring fluid and electrolytes lost in sweat
Supporting the immune system to handle the damage
Glycogen is the fuel the body uses to produce force during activity and exercise. Many research studies believe that replenishing glycogen stores within 30 minutes of glycogen depletion or exercise induced glycogen depletion can "fast-charge" the liver's store of glycogen, thus preparing the body for subsequent activity.
Muscle repair is always the byproduct of resistance training and challenging exercise activities. This is how your body becomes more toned, muscular, and stronger over a period of time after training. Having protein sources after exercise will add a positive resevoir of nitrogen molecules to the body that is in repair phase. Branched Chain Amino Acids (BCAA's) will also speed up the nitrogen restoration by supplying the body with a "pre-digested" form of protein source that all meats and protein-rich vegetables eventually are converted into. BCAA's basically cuts out the middle man (your stomach and intestine) from having to digest the food you eat in order to break protein sources into BCAA's.
Fluid loss through perspiration and urination can be a significant source of feeling fatigued and disoriented after exercise activity. Replenishing fluids should be an ongoing process which takes place before, during, and after exercise activity. Sports drinks could be a great way to replenish the carbs, electrolytes, and fluid lost during activity. Consuming sports drinks when in a non-activate state leads to overconsumption of carbs. An alternative is to use Emergen-C supplements that provides about 1000mg of Vitamin C along with a concentrate of electrolytes like sodium, potassium and calcium, and avoid the additional sugars.
Intense exercise can suppress the immune system. Vitamins C and E, zinc, glutamine, and probiotics are easily acquired and available in most stores. The quantity to consume of each product will vary from person to person in order for them to have the greatest benefit. Consult your dietician or qualified healthcare provider for suggestions.
So this month, play hard, work hard, eat hard!