Muscles store energy in the form of glycogen. One of the greatest benefits of preseason training is that athletes teach their bodies to store more glycogen in their muscles, ready for immediate use. Muscle recovery nutrition involves making sure that that these glycogen stores are fully loaded before subsequent workouts.
Maximizing Glycogen Storage
Research has shown that the key to a fast recovery is to consume food and beverages that have a 4-to-1 carbohydrate-to-protein ratio within 30 minutes of a workout. This is when digestive enzymes are most active and blood flow is greatest. Athletes who make a conscious effort to refuel before they hit the showers will tend to store up to three times more glycogen than those who wait two or more hours.
Two Home Remedies
There are many nutritional options to help promote muscle recovery including powders, bars, gels, and premixed beverages. However two studies reviewed at the 2009 American Academy of Sports Medicine’s annual conference showed that foods from the pantry can be just as effective. The first study completed by the University of Texas on triathletes and cyclists used breakfast cereal. Results of blood samples showed that muscle glycogen and protein synthesis for repair using cereal and milk was equal to that of a sports drink. The second study completed at James Madison University on soccer players used chocolate milk. Results showed that chocolate milk resulted in equal or superior muscle recovery when compared to high carbohydrate recovery beverages of equal calories.
The body also requires adequate hydration to replenish muscle fluid. The average human body is two-thirds water; muscle is 75 percent water and blood is 95 percent water. Athletes need to determine their rate of sweat during exercise and maintain adequate hydration to prevent water loss of greater than 1 percent of body weight. Since 1 lb. of sweat is equal to 2 cups of fluid, an athlete should calculate fluid loss by measuring weight change during exercise and drink water accordingly. When urine is pale yellow in color it’s a positive sign that fluid status is good!
Training too much, too fast in the absence of adequate rest can result in a fatigued workout, injury and illness as immunity wears thin. During sleep, the body releases growth hormones that help repair the damage caused by small muscle tears which occur during training. While the average adult needs seven to eight hours of rest, a recent study by Stanford University on basketball players showed that a little extra sleep actually boosts athletic performance. Their athletes demonstrated faster sprint times, increased accuracy in free throws, and improved mood during practice and games.
Week Of The Big Game
Many people will complain of a slight weight gain and heaviness in their muscles during a taper. A taper is when athletes ease back on their workout sessions to give their muscles time to rest up before the big event. By reducing your activity level, muscle fibers complete any last minute repairs and fill completely with glycogen and water. The awkwardness feeling is a sign that muscles are rested and fully saturated.