Written by Karlyn Grimes, MS RD LDN CSSD
Whether you’re following an intense training schedule or have an event on the horizon, performance is on your mind. You train day after day whether your body is ready to roll or fatigue is knocking on the door. Let’s face it: some training days, your-get-up-and-go has got up and left. These days can affect your physical, mental and emotional health, and, if they occur frequently, can contribute to overtraining syndrome and put personal bests out of reach. The key to keeping your training fresh, invigorating, and effective is to invest in your recovery.
For many athletes, “recovery” refers to rest and nutritional support after training and competition, but real recovery involves key strategies before, during, and after exercise, as well as throughout the day. Essentially, athletes need to be in “recovery mode” at all times.
It’s important to start your recovery immediately after intense training and competition. During this time frame, there is a high amount of blood flow to the muscles, and channels funneling glucose and amino acids into muscles are wide open. With every minute that passes, these channels begin closing and blood flow to recently worked muscles slows. If you wait too long to refuel your body, you will experience sub-optimal glycogen repletion and compromised muscle protein synthesis (MPS). This effect is particularly noticeable when there are fewer than eight hours between training sessions.
- The Solution: Consume carbohydrates and protein in a 4-to-1 ratio as soon as possible after training and competition, and continue fueling up until the two-hour mark. The International Society of Sports Nutrition found nutrient timing to be a critical component to recovery. An adequate mix of carbohydrates and protein immediately after a workout creates an anabolic environment that supports glycogen repletion and MPS, increasing MPS up to three times.
Klean RecoveryTM, a carbohydrate-protein supplement, delivers the rapidly absorbed 4:1 macronutrient ratio that is essential for muscle building and promotion of a positive nitrogen balance.* If you have fewer than eight hours between training sessions, be sure to choose a more nutrient-dense liquid, such as milk, to ensure you receive 1.0-1.2 grams of carbohydrate and 0.3 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight per hour. Water is the perfect mixer when you have more time between training sessions or competition, since expedited repletion is not required.
Recovery can be initiated even before the start of training or competition. According to a recent (2016) Position of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, Dietitians of Canada, and the American College of Sports Medicine, consuming 20-30 grams of total protein comprising 10 grams of essential amino acids during or immediately after exercise can lead to enhanced MPS and improved nitrogen balance. Both of these scenarios are essential for supporting the numerous metabolic adaptations your body experiences during the various stages of training. A special note for master’s athletes: due to slower recovery rates and possible impairment of muscle remodeling mechanisms, additional protein consumption after training and competition, as well as throughout the day, may be advantageous.
- The Solution: One to two hours prior to exercise, it’s vital to obtain 20 grams of a high-quality whey protein isolate, chock-full of essential amino acids such as leucine, a muscle protein synthesis dynamo. A whey protein isolate such as Klean IsolateTM will fill up your amino acid pools so they are prepared to synthesize muscle proteins, enzymes, mitochondria (the powerhouses of the cell), red blood cells, and other key bodily components that support your training efforts after your workout.* Studies have also found that multiple feedings of protein throughout the day can help maximize MPS. Fruit smoothies containing whey protein isolate will promote faster recovery.* The addition of Greek yogurt, flax and chia seeds, unsweetened frozen fruits, baby carrots, kale, mini peppers, and any other favorites can provide your body with a steady infusion of protein, as well as numerous phytochemicals and antioxidants.
While whey protein isolate and recovery concoctions containing the proper carbohydrate-to-protein ratios will set the stage for optimal recovery, you may benefit from going the extra mile by consuming specific essential amino acids that have been linked to expedited muscle tissue repair, enhanced immune system function, and overall recovery.* These powerful amino acids – namely, leucine, valine and isoleucine – are referred to as branched chain amino acids (BCAA). Research has also shown that a 400 mg dose of ATP, a direct energy source for our muscles and other energy-requiring processes, can stimulate vasodilation in areas needing oxygen (i.e. highly taxed muscles), allowing for enhanced blood flow and heightened recovery.*
- The Solution: Supplementing with a BCAA and ATP before, during, and post-exercise promotes improved recovery and increased blood flow for better performance.* There are few nutritional supplements that provide oral ATP. Klean BCAA + Peak ATP® is one of the only products on the market that offers the combination of BCAA and ATP. This dual concoction is best consumed before, during, and after exercise to infuse your body with the ideal ratio of BCAAs and ATP to optimize performance and recovery.*
With the most current research-based knowledge surrounding promotion of optimal recovery at your fingertips, I wish you the best of luck in your recovery adventures!
About the Author: Karlyn Grimes is the founder of Simply Simple Health (SSH), author of The Everything Anti-Inflammation Diet Book, and a retained medical advisor for Klean Athlete.
*These statements have not been evaluated by the Food & Drug Administration. These products are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease.