Everyone knows the importance of refuelling after a heavy workout. The emphasis on putting back in what you have taken out is clearer today than it has ever been and the evident rise of the protein shake in popular culture highlights this.
Refuelling and recovery is both an art and a science, with the application of practical experience and a sense of ‘what works for you’, combining with the nuts and bolts of chemistry and biology.
Team GB Powerlifter, UK Strongwoman and JBC sponsored athlete Amanda Gisby – who also holds a masters in chemistry – gives her top tips on how to refocus your refuel.
Refuelling is not just for after training
A common training mistake is the presumption that refuelling only takes place after training. Whilst this is important, your whole nutrition regime should be under scrutiny if you want to truly achieve results from your training. You need to ensure you provide the right alkaline pH environment within your body before, during and after training if you are looking for sustained muscle growth and tone. Plenty of fresh vegetables or a greens powder supplement can help you maintain the optimum conditions for muscle growth and recovery.
Preparing and fuelling your body before exercise helps to stop potential protein and muscle breakdown as well as supporting your immune system and keeping stress hormones low, helping to reduce the storage of body fat. During training, you should sip a blend of Branch Chain Amino Acids (BCAAs) to keep you hydrated and ensure your muscles have immediate access to protein. There is also evidence to suggest that BCAAs help increase the amount of oxygen your blood can carry – a vital component in fighting fatigue. This will allow you to train harder for longer.
It’s not just about carbs and protein
Yes, fast release carbohydrates and protein are important for refuel and recovery, but so too are anti-oxidants. Having a handful of blueberries before and after training can make a huge difference, and it’s one of your five a day – the benefits just keep coming! Your macro and micronutrient intake needs to be balanced. Not only should you consume the required calorie intake in protein, carbs and fats, but also ensure you have a good vitamin and mineral balance, to promote positive recovery – another reason why fruit and vegetables are a key component of any diet.
Keep yourself hydrated
Water is an essential element for any diet, but it is even more important alongside an exercise regime. Without an adequate intake of water, you simply cannot achieve any meaningful results. The recommended daily intake of water for men is 3.7 litres (15 cups) per day and for women, 2.7 litres (11 cups). However you can get your water in a variety of different ways. This can be in the form of fruit juices (though be careful not to drink too much juice, due to the high sugar content), your food, electrolyte mixes or even BCAA’s.
Refuel according to your goals
Refuelling isn’t just about getting food and drink into your body. Just as you focus your training to meet specific goals, you also need to focus your refuelling and recovery. For example back loading of nutrients has been proven to be counterproductive in the interests of recovery and muscle generation.
Refuelling and recovery should be a planned meal in your regime and should replace nutrients, including the lost amino acids and support the body’s detoxification processes. Your recovery meal can be the same regardless of your sport – the difference comes in the consumption of the correct amount and the right percentage of macronutrients. Everyone, even the athlete looking to reduce body fat should still include carbohydrates post workout. This will induce an insulin peak and help direct the required amino acids to the muscles, therefore providing the body’s cells with enough energy to repair muscle fibres.
Your body craves nutrition immediately post workout
The more intense your workout, the more the body craves nutrients to aid muscle fibre repair. Therefore, it is crucial that refuelling starts straight away with vitamin C, creatine, glutamine, BCAA’s and electrolytes. This combination of nutrients will help support your immune system as well as start the repair process.
You should also enjoy an Epsom salt bath as it will help rebalance the body’s electrolytes and reduce delayed onset muscle soreness.
Sleep, sleep and SLEEP!
Almost every article you will read about recovery emphasises the importance of sleep – and for good reason. Sleep isn’t just about resting the mind to prepare yourself for the upcoming day, it’s also where your body is able to regenerate muscle to its maximum potential. It is during elongated phases of Rapid Eye Movement (REM) sleep that the body is able to repair muscle and circulate the human growth hormone. This is a unique phase of sleep which is characterised by random movement of the eyes, low muscle tone throughout the body and the ability for the sleeper to dream vividly. The use of Zinc Monomethionine Aspartate (ZMA’s) has been found to increase the amount of REM sleep, and therefore can help improve recovery overnight. So make sure you get to bed on time ready for your morning workout.
By following these tips on how to refocus your refuelling, it will ensure that you are giving yourself the best possible chance to repair and recover, pushing you closer to your goals.
As well as being a team GB power lifter, Amanda is also an ambassador for sports nutrition brand JBC. For more information about Amanda or to get more training and diet advice – including a free personalised diet plan, you can go to www.jbc-nutrition.co.uk or call 01633 619 499.