Recovery is hands down one of the most important, yet most overlooked areas of sports nutrition. The fuel we consume between training sessions is key to not only recovering but getting fitter, faster, and stronger. Here are some practical tips to improve your recovery nutrition:
Eat protein and carbohydrates (carbs): Carbs are the body's main fuel source, stored as glycogen in the muscles and liver. These stores run out during exercise and need to be replaced to help fuel muscles. Protein is vital for the repair and function of muscles, so it needs to be included in your post-exercise nutrition. Ideally, you want to refuel soon after your session has finished, enhancing the recovery process.
Immediately after hard or prolonged exercise, you could try out our PURE Exercise Recovery, which contains 15g of milk proteins per serve and naturally occurring nutrients including the essential minerals calcium, potassium, sodium and magnesium. This provides a good source of protein to help with tissue building and repair, while potassium can help with normal electrolyte balance and magnesium contributes to a reduction in tiredness and fatigue as a result of extended exercise.
Spread protein out over the day: Our body has a limited ability to process protein and utilise it for recovery, so don't go overboard on your post-exercise protein hit. Be sure to include small amounts into every meal or snack between sessions so you consistently spread your protein intake over the day.
Eat enough to support recovery: Many people training underestimate their food and energy requirements and under fuel. If you are consistently training/exercising and haven't adjusted your base diet then you may need to look into this. Other signs are soreness or inability to recover between sessions. This can lead to injury or fatigue. If you have a long/hard training session scheduled make sure you account for this in your pre-training meals or snacks by increasing size or frequency where it is practical to do so i.e. larger dinner or extra snack the night before a long morning session.
Increase your fruit and veg intake: A higher energy requirement means a higher nutrient requirement (sorry those hoping for double deserts on the training menu). At a minimum, you should be aiming for 10 servings per day as these vitamins, minerals and complex carbohydrates will help recovery and immune support. Finding it hard to fit in? PURE Blackcurrant Recovery and PURE Beet Endurance are freeze made from 100% real freeze-dried ingredients, concentrated down to be incredibly nutrient-dense.
Hydrate: Exercise can send us down the path of dehydration which needs to be reversed during recovery. The quickest way to rehydrate is a sports drink, containing carbohydrates and electrolytes to help with fluid absorption. Quick tip, always finish your sessions hydration supply (if you carry it) when you finish, to help rehydrate and refuel muscles. You also need to ensure you remain hydrated throughout the day, which can be upwards of 2L of water depending on gender and size etc. In between sessions when you may not require the extra carbs, try PURE Electrolyte Hydration Low Carb which contains electrolytes and is made on a naturally low sugar coconut base.
Marewa Sutherland is a qualified Sports & Exercise Nutritionist (BAppSc, University of Otago) and co-founder of PURE Sports Nutrition.