Recovery is more important than training’. You’ve probably already heard this statement before - while it may be tempting to shrug it off and disregard, you may find that there’s more truth to it than you originally expected.
Being able to recover will not only allow you to train more but will also allow you to train at a higher intensity. Plus, most people forget that recovery includes lean muscle growth to improve muscle tone, strength and fat burning. So, for most of us, recovery, in essence, is the goal.
So what's the best form of recovery? Nutrition.
There are countless gadgets and protocols promised to improve recovery, but if your nutrition is off, none of those are going to save you. Below are my 10 best nutritional strategies to improve recovery:
1. Adequate protein intake
If you train hard, you’ve got to take in more protein. A diet that is higher in protein should be a given for anyone who exercises, but you’d be surprised how many people forget this essential element of their diet. Around 1.4-1.6 grams of protein per kilogram of bodyweight per day is what you need.
2. Supplement with Omega-3 Fats
Ever looked for a ‘magic pill’ that will help you recover from exercise, including increasing muscle tone and mood? Omega-3 comes pretty close.
It not only increases signals in the muscle to increase lean muscle recovery and decrease muscle breakdown caused by strenuous exercise, it also helps nerve cell growth and improves your aerobic capacity. This in turn, helps increase your overall strength and coordination, which will allow you to push harder in the next session.
3. Supplement with Creatine Monohydrate
Most girls shy away from creatine because they think it’s going to make them get big - quite the opposite! Creatine increases your strength, power and improves your endurance so you can workout harder for longer. It also helps increase your body’s energy molecules, known as ATP, which can speed up recovery.
4. Eat Properly, don’t eat less!
Cutting calories actually decreases your recovery capability. Less fuel in the car means it can’t drive as fast or as far, so make sure you’re getting in enough food during those workout days. Position most of your carbohydrates around your training sessions for better performance during, and better recovery after. Starving yourself is a recipe for disaster, so focus on eating better!
5. Take in enough carbohydrates after cardio
A heavy workout session depletes your body’s glycogen (energy stores). Reducing your muscle’s sugar stores can have a very negative impact on muscle protein breakdown, which affects recovery. On a hard workout day, make sure you slightly increase your carbohydrates.
6. Get 7-9 hours of sleep per night
Your body does some pretty amazing things that can’t be done while you’re awake, so you recover the most while you sleep - if you’re cutting this part of your training short, you’re not going to see the results you want. Focus on getting 7-9 hours of quality sleep per night to allow your body the time it needs to recovery properly.
7. Eat Fat
Every single cell in your body is made from fat, so don’t fear it! If you don’t have any fat in your diet, your body will hold onto your fat stores. Consume around one gram of healthy fat (nothing deep fried!) per kilo of bodyweight, split evenly between monounsaturated, polyunsaturated and saturated fats.
8. No Supplement will make up for a poor diet
If you’re not eating right and think you can outtrain a bad diet - think again! Supplements and training enhance your results, but if you’re filling your body with unhealthy food all the time you’re not going to get very far.
9. Eat immediately after a workout
Eating protein and carbs after a heavy workout helps your body to maximize recovery. Try to eat a high quality meal within 30 minutes to an hour of training for the best results. After training your body is trying to rebuild, so if you don’t give it the fuel it needs you won’t recover as much as you should.
10. Follow the 90/10 rule
Eat clean and healthy 90% of the time, so you can treat yourself the other 10% of the time. This makes any diet or nutrition program much easier to stick to and gives you an outlet to enjoy the things that you love. Just remember, they are treats - enjoy them, but in moderation.