Week 3 of my journey to the “perfect recovery” brings me to nutrition, which for me I know, has huge room for improvement! I currently practice the post-run nutrition plan known as TREAT YOURSELF…also commonly referred to as “you deserve it” or “eat all the food” #theworstplanever 😁 There is no method to my madness or science behind my current plan and it often finds me grabbing a post-run beer and nachos or some sort of delicious pastry…I pretty much have zero self-control! I’m pretty good with my diet Monday-Friday, but after running 30-50km on the weekend, all bets are off. Which, from what I’ve been reading, is probably the most critical time!
Since the first step to making a change is recognizing you have a problem, this is my diet declaration…I need help! I think part of my problem [and I’m pretty sure I’m not alone in this] is that diet and sports nutrition can be sooooo complicated…”24 ounces of this, ratio’s of that, electrolytes, glycogen, amino acids”…I’m already confused🙉 But does it have to be so complicated? This was my mission this week, to follow the KISS (Keep It Simple Stupid) principle and find out some nutrition basics to help aid my recovery.
The 3 R’s of Recovery…
When I was looking through some of the information out there on recovery nutrition, I kept seeing a common theme in the research; the concept of the 3 R’s:
All 3 R’s follow the simple principle of replacing what was lost during training and providing the body with the proper nutrients to allow it to grow and adapt (I’m guessing these aren’t found in my nachos😁). Another key point that I kept seeing was the time during which you should begin your post-training recovery: 15-60 minutes. Which is another thing I do wrong as it usually takes me 1-2 hours to feel like eating again after a long run! Like I said, there’s room for improvement….
Refuelling starts with replacing glycogen, which is a fancy way of saying carbs. Our body stores carbohydrates as glycogen which is the main source of fuel it uses during exercise. The more intense the activity or the longer duration it is, the more glycogen/carbohydrates it uses.
So how much do we need? The Australian Institute of Sport advises 1-1.2g of carbs per kg of body weight (or 2.2-2.6 per lb) within the first hour after training. But since I really hate math and it’s the last thing I can do when I’m carb depleted, I did the calculation and found out I would need between 50-60g of carbs after training. Next I looked at the options on their website to pick out the foods I would typically crave post workout that would fall around the 50-60g mark:
-3 slices of multigrain bread
-2 granola bars
-2 med-large bananas
-700ml sports drink
-1 large scone or muffin (YES🙌)
And the list goes on!!!
Rebuilding begins with protein. Intense exercise results in the breakdown of muscle tissue which requires the intake of protein to repair it. Eating high quality protein within the first hour after exercise helps promote protein rebuilding and most of the research agrees that 10-20g of protein is ideal. Here are some foods this includes:
-2 small eggs
-120g of tofu
-300ml of flavoured milk
-200g of yogurt
Drink all the water! This for me is the simplest rule, but the one I ultimately fail at😔 When I finish a long run or a race I almost always want a ginger-ale (I’m obsessed)
and I’m pretty slow to hop on the water train! I’m usually reactive not pro-active and realize I haven’t peed in 2 hours before I start slamming back the water #oops 😁 But like I said it’s simple: drink enough liquid to replace the fluid (and electrolytes) you lost in sweat during exercise. A lot of the research talks about weighing yourself before and after exercise and drinking what you lost, but an easy way is to simply monitor the colour and quantity of your urine; drink until it’s clear!
So now that I’ve confessed all my diet short-comings, I need to try and make some changes, be more prepared and make better choices! I’m still going to have my post run beers, but I think I’m going to make more of an effort to chug some water, replace my carbs and eat an egg or two before I do it! Nobodies perfect right?!