Progress is made through rock solid recovery so use this dietary advice to scientifically improve your recuperation process
When looking at recovery the most important aspect for overall progress is to eat the correct amount of calories for your body and your goal, ensuring adequate amino acid availability and adequate essential fatty acids for hormonal production, as well as micronutrients for cell function. Fall short on your required macronutrients and micronutrients and your recovery will be compromised.
Muscle recovery starts pre-workout
Let’s assume you train once per day for 90 minutes at around 5:30pm. This would then mean the pre-workout meal would be around 3–4pm. This should contain around 0.4–0.5g protein per 1kg of lean body mass, or LBM (a typical 90kg man at 15% body fat equating to 76kg LBM would need around 30–35g), as a minimum.
This will provide adequate serum amino acids to reduce chances of catabolism (muscle wastage) and increase muscle protein synthesis, all leading to enhanced recovery.
As for the rest of this plate, that comes down to individual preference and should be experimented with in terms of the meal’s carbohydrate and fat content. A smaller/light meal is often a good pick because blood is diverted away from the digestive tract during a training bout and a heavy meal will not digest quickly, often leaving you feeling nauseous.
While this should have minimal effect on recovery itself, it may impact the quality of the session, and we all hate a bad session.
Muscle recovery through nutrition
With your workout starting at 5:30pm the post-workout meal is likely to be around 7:30pm. By spacing this meal around four hours after the fi rst, you ensure that muscle protein synthesis is elevated maximally around the training bout, which eventually leads to optimal muscle-building potential. Again, 0.4–0.5g protein per 1kg LBM is sufficient to maximize the anabolic effect, but more may be consumed if desired.
By including carbohydrates in this meal, you serve two purposes. The first is glycogen replenishment, which is essential in recovery and will help you train optimally next time with full fuel stores.
Food for sleep
The second reason to include carbohydrates in this meal is thanks to its effect on the second most vital aspect of recovery: sleep. Carb consumption at night increases the production of tryptophan in the brain, this hormone is then converted into serotonin and melatonin, which regulate your sleep.
By improving sleep you increase sex hormone, growth hormone and IGF-1 production as well as allow your central nervous system to recover, all leading to faster adaptations. The amount of carbohydrates and inclusion of fats in this meal is up to you and dependent on overall caloric intake, but a carb intake of 80g or higher isn’t unusual for a typical gym goer who is training hard.
Supplementing your muscle recovery
Creatine powder, while not directly enhancing recovery will aid in creatine replenishment, which will lead to performance increases in continuing sessions by always ensuring stores are maxed out. Ideal would be 5g daily with the postworkout meal.
ZMA for a deeper sleep and higher quality recovery
Before bed, supplementing with zinc and magnesium helps to reduce the chances of deficiency, which can disrupt sleep patterns. For an enhanced recovery response use transdermal magnesium and zinc from transdermaltechnology.co.uk.
The holistic approach to muscle recovery
Recovery comes from a few important factors: meeting your calorie, macronutrient and micronutrient needs for the day; having a well-balanced meal pre-training, ensuring protein and carbohydrates are on board post-training; and that important recovery micronutrients are taken. With all these you’ve no choice but to up your game.
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