You Are What You Eat- The Importance of Post-Training NutritionNovember 25, 2015
Many athletes focus on the technical and conditioning aspects of their sporting experience, yet nutrition is an equally important part of athletic success. Post-training nutrition is especially critical, as it helps the body recover and recharge. Timing is also important; studies show that food consumed within 30 minutes of exercising will have a significant effect on glycogen stores and muscle recovery.
Rehydration is another vital aspect of post-training nutrition. Considering the information available, it is surprising that research suggests over 50% of athletes do not rehydrate properly. What can nutrition do to help improve athletic performance and improve the efficiency of recovery time?
Here are some tips to remember when deciding what to eat and drink after exercise:
- Athletes should focus on certain foods during their recovery based on the type of sport that they participate in. This can be challenging, but not impossible! Long distance runners need glycogen and fats for fuel storage, whereas soccer players need diet high in protein but low in fat. Factors such as the size of the playing surface, length of the game, and substitution patterns, etc. may impact the kinds of foods that will be the most beneficial in recovery.
- Athletes should drink 16-24 ounces of fluid for every pound of body weight lost during exercise. Make sure to consume rehydration beverages like water or sports drinks and foods with a high salt and sugar content, as they will help replenish fluid and electrolyte levels. Check out this great online hydration calculator to calculate your own ideal level of hydration.
- The type and amount of food and liquid consumed depends on the activity the athlete has just completed, and when the next training session will be. If you have just finished an endurance event, then try to drink a smoothie, sport drink, chocolate milk, or water. Each of these drinks provides protein and/or liquid to the body which helps prevent muscle damage.
- Eat within an hour of activity, as this is when the muscles are most receptive to refuelling. Carbohydrates eaten within 30 minutes of exercise and again every two hours to help replenish glycogen stores. Remember to eat meals and snacks that contain protein, as they help repair and build muscle along with rehydrating. This will help make future training sessions successful as well.
- What and how much you eat can also help you recover from injury. Frequency of eating is an important aspect maintaining muscle mass and supporting healing. Eat three meals a day along with three snacks, but make sure to limit portion sizes based upon your activity level.
- Make sure to keep glucose levels up, especially when training in the hot sun. Remember, in order to prevent dehydration your body needs electrolytes, which are a combination of liquid, salt and sugar. If you are working out in the hot sun, make sure to drink lots of water prior to exercise and ensure that you get your electrolytes during the activity.
It can be challenging to figure out what your body needs and when, but the reward comes in the performance on the playing surface. What you consume is an integral part of your health success; keep these key pointers in mind for your next sporting activity!
Boegman, S. Performance Point- Recovery Nutrition. Canadian Sports Centre Pacific. October 2006.
Berning, J. Fueling Athletes for Training and Competition. IDEA Fitness Journal. January 2011.
Canadian Sport Institute Pacific Performance Nutrition Team. Performance Point- Nutrition Considerations for Healing. Canadian Sport Institute. September 2014.
Dieticians of Canada. What should I eat and drink before, during and after endurance exercise? Dieticians of Canada. November 2013
Holway, F, Spriet, L. Sport Specific Nutrition: Practical Strategies for Team Sports. Journal of Sports Sciences. July 2011.
by Andrew Caudwell
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