The 3 R's of Recovery Nutrition

Are you getting your 3-R's?

Just as it is essential to properly fuel your body before and during workouts, practices, and competitions, RE-fueling is probably the most important. Have you ever gone through two-a-days and felt tired and sluggish and unable to perform at your best? Or have you ever competed in back-to-back tournaments and experienced a big lack of energy after the first one or two games? Well, Recovery Nutrition is at your rescue because post-exercise snacks/meals provide the nutrients that help refuel your energy stores and repair your muscles-- together preparing you for your next practice or event.

By knowing and consistently practicing the 3-R's of Recovery, your energy levels will dramatically increase and help you feel at the top of your game.

Learn to Love and Practice the 3-R's:

1. Reloading energy stores with Carbohydrates
2. Repairing and building new muscle tissue with Protein
3. Rehydrating with Water and an Electrolyte sports drink (e.g. Powerade)

Starting with number one: Carbohydrates are your muscles' and brain's MAIN source of fuel and energy. After workouts and practices, your carbohydrate or "energy" stores have been depleted. Your recovery snack/meal will help replenish this energy and get you ready for the next event or training session. Over the years, carbs have gotten a bad rep and are commonly recognized as "bad and fattening." Without healthy carbohydrate foods in your diet (particularly in your recovery snack/meal), you would be unable to acquire the energy to get you through your team workouts, practices, and most importantly... your games/competitions. Adequate carbohydrate consumption and proper timing is KEY to optimal performance.

On to number two: Amino Acids are the building blocks of protein, and protein is what makes up your muscle tissue. During tough workouts and practices, your muscle tissue breaks down. By eating a recovery snack/meal (comprised of BOTH carbohydrate and protein) as soon as tolerable, the amino acids from the protein foods will stop this breakdown and start repairing and rebuilding muscle. Protein also helps reduce muscle soreness- a big plus for athletes who train multiple times a day and on consecutive days.

And last but certainly not least, number three: Hard workouts usually come with lots of sweating. Sweating is definitely not a bad thing; it is how your body cools itself and maintains a healthy internal temperature. Now, what is bad is when you do not replace the fluids that you have lost during your workout/event. Rehydration should be your top priority post-exercise. Failing to properly rehydrate may result in becoming dehydrating during your next workout/event. Dehydration is a major stressor to the body- increasing your heart rate, your body temperature, inability to concentrate, and inability to perform at your best.

So now you may ask, how do I implement a sound recovery nutrition plan?

Start rehydration immediately. To monitor your hydration status, weight yourself before and after your workout. For every pound lost, drink 2-3 cups (16-24 ounces) of fluid (water + electrolyte beverage). *Make sure you are hydrating DURING your workouts, practices, and games in order to prevent water weight loss and fluid imbalances.

Refuel with a carbohydrate/protein snack within 30-60 minutes post-exercise. You should consume 0.5 grams of carbohydrate per pound of body weight in combination with 10-20 grams of protein within this time period. Repeat this every 1-2 hours until your next meal.

Need some Recovery snack/ meal ideas? Try these!

Peanut butter and jelly sandwich on white bread
Fresh fruit salad mixed with nuts and low-fat yogurt
Turkey and cheese on a flour tortilla
Tall glass of low-fat chocolate milk
Bowl of whole grain cereal topped with nuts, fruit, and low fat milk
Bagel spread with reduced-fat cream cheese
100% fruit juice and trail mix: (nuts, dried fruit, cereal, pretzels)
Water-packed tuna stuffed in pita bread
Apple and peanut butter
Low-fat yogurt mixed with cereal
Graham crackers topped with peanut butter & raisins
Fruit smoothie with a scoop of protein powder
Recovery Carb/Protein drink (Muscle Milk, PowerAde protein milk)
Don’t forget to REHYDRATE!