There are four main elements to a nutritionally balanced recovery. They are known as the 4 Rs:
These four factors involve the core areas of nutrition to support your best recovery. From repairing your muscles, replacing the fuel you use, replenishing your fluids, and revitalising your body to manage inflammation and support your immune function.
Damage isn’t always a bad thing! The micro tears that happen in your muscles during a session or match (hello muscle soreness) can then build to bigger and better things – particularly if we give them the building blocks to do so!
Protein is made up of amino acids – think of these as your building blocks.
This is why including protein-rich foods after a session is a great recovery strategy. Options such as meat, chicken, fish, eggs, tofu, tempeh, legumes, yoghurt and milk are all great! Extra points also go to protein options that are high in an amino acid called leucine, as this is a great trigger for muscle protein synthesis. This is why milk, Greek yoghurt and whey protein powder are often touted as the kings of recovery!
Every time you step onto the pitch or onto the gym floor, your movement is using fuel. The harder and higher intensity the session, the more carbohydrate you will be using from your blood and your muscles – read more about this in the ‘Fuelling for the Work Required’ article!
As your carbohydrate stores run low, you can be left feeling flat, fatigued and sore – so replenishing those stores after your session or match allows for some great performance outcomes! Including carbohydrate in your recovery meals and snacks could include options such as breads, rice, pasta, fruit, yoghurt, cereal, muesli and milk.
When it comes to recovery, it is more than just the food we eat – it is also about hydration. Replacing the fluid and electrolytes we lose while training or competing allows us to recover – improving our energy levels, focus and concentration.
Our sweat rates are very dependent on our genetics, gender, body size, fitness level and the climate; so there is no set amount we need to drink each day – it varies!
So, when considering your hydration, the easiest option is to monitor your urine colour (You will get use to us Dietitian’s toilet talk!). If you are averaging a clear to pale yellow, you are good to go! However, if your wee looks more like beer – it is time to start increasing that water intake!
The humble veggie might be forgotten about when you are putting together your recovery shake or meal, but including colour is a key part of your recovery! Nutrient rich options that help your body manage inflammation and optimise your immune health are things like veggies, fruit, berries, nuts and seeds.
The inflammatory stress response from training or match day is not a bad thing – it is that stress on the body that is leading to all those wonderful improvements in strength and performance. However, if they become ongoing or unregulated, it can lead to some ongoing risks such as injury or illness.
So what can you do? Add berries to your recovery smoothie, add veggies to your dinner post-training, put some salad in your wrap for lunch – make it simple, easy and enjoyable!
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