Training is what makes us stronger, whether your goal is improving your endurance, strength, power or speed.
Our bodies will recover in time naturally, but feeding it the right nutrition allows you to adapt optimally, either directly replacing energy stores or supplying the building blocks needed for rebuilding muscle mass. This allows us to train day-after-day, or help us reduce the muscle soreness associated with training.
Recovery also affects your bodies’ general function as well. Your immune system largely runs off glucose as an energy source, so low carbohydrate levels make it less able to respond effectively to threats of infection.
Large volumes of endurance are also well known to cause a slight depression of your immune system. Research work reviewed by Gleeson (2007) found that endurance training causes a stress response to the immune system, slightly depressing it for 3-24 hours, depending on the length and intensity.
For long challenge events taking one day or more, such as cycle challenges, marathons, ultra running or ironman triathlon, this immune depression may extend to up to three days.
Including carbohydrate in your recovery strategy is essential for a healthy recovery. Many think recovery is just about protein, but for most endurance athletes, it’s about total recovery, not gain. Speed is of the essence when it comes to the recovery. If you can whizz up a balanced carbohydrate and protein meal in 30 minutes post-exercise, that’ll be great, but for when that’s tricky, there’s REGO Rapid Recovery. The powder, mixed with water, provides a quickly absorbed source of protein with rapidly digested carbohydrate alongside electrolytes to aid rehydration for use in the 30 minutes post-exercise. You should then follow this up with a well-balanced meal within the following two hours.
This recovery meal should be an optimum feeding of protein (20-25g) with 1.2g of carbohydrate per kilogram body mass. So for a 70kg person, this would be 20g of protein plus 84g of carbohydrate, or a chicken breast with 400g of rice.
A range of fruit and vegetables is important to include as well. Exercise causes oxidative stress, or the release of free radicals – molecules with unpaired electrons, which can cause damage to cells. However the body should be able to cope with the amounts produced during exercise with a good diet and adequate rest, and the benefits of exercise far outweigh any health risks from the production of free radicals. Similarly an excessive intake of antioxidants through vitamin supplements is not required and can actually blunt the training response.
So to improve your performance, prioritise your recovery so you can come back stronger and in good health for your next session. We think it’s an easy win.