recovery focuses on restoring fluid and electrolytes (sodium and potassium)
lost in sweat; replenishing muscle fuel (carbohydrate), decreasing risk of
infection, and providing protein to aid in the repair of damaged muscle tissue
and to stimulate development of new tissue. The latest
research on nutrition for endurance exercise points to the following four
1. Recovery ‘window’: Recover
fastest by consuming recovery nutrients within 30 to 60 minutes after you finish
running, as the muscles are primed and ready to metabolise nutrients, replace
fuel stores and damaged tissue immediately after intense exercise.
2. Optimal ratio of carbs to protein: Protein
is just as important as carb intake after your run, and you specifically need Branched
Chain Amino Acids (BCAAs) with protein, because the BCAAs ensure you get your
fuel stores back up so you will feel more energetic, and you’ll restore tissue
and muscle without needing a lot of extra carb. They also help to minimise the
catabolic, muscle-degrading response that typically comes from running. Rich
sources of BCAAs include pork, dairy products, red meat, corn,
beans, legumes, brown rice, whole wheat, eggs, fish, mushrooms, soy protein,
lentils, nuts and chickpeas. A ratio of
2:1 or 3:1 carb to protein is usually ideal for endurance athletes.
3. Opt for whey over casein protein, and simple over
complex carbs: Whey protein promotes a faster
digestive pattern during the post-run window, whereas casein protein releases
its amino acids at a slower rate, just as complex carbs take longer to digest,
counteracting the point of immediate post-run nutrition. Only switch to complex
carbs after the ‘window,’ because they will be digested slower, leading to a
more moderate insulin response.
with glutamine and antioxidants: Glutamine is an amino acid
that is important for tissue repair and immune function. High levels of
cortisol (the stress hormone) diminish glutamine levels, and intense endurance
exercise uses up glutamine stores. Low glutamine is one reason endurance
runners often get sick during intense training cycles, because the muscles
can’t fully recover between workouts. So include glutamine in your post-run
shake, and also consider adding antioxidant powder, because antioxidants
enhance the body’s ability to recover from extreme physical stress.
THE EATING PLAN
24 hours are the most important for recovery.
15-30min after the race, eat at least 30-60g carbohydrate and 10g protein.
Avoid alcohol, as it interferes with rehydration and optimal muscle recovery.
Nestle Nutren Active shake
Get-up-and Go drink carton
Branded recovery drinks, e.g.
Recoverite from Hammer, 32GI Recovery drink, PeptoSport or Energade/Powerade
with sachet (10g) of Peptopro added.
Hours: Focus on a balanced main meal which includes a
protein source, carbohydrate and vegetables (to boost antioxidant intake). Rehydrate first before consuming
Grilled chicken breasts, basmati
rice with mushrooms and tomatoes.
Pork fillet with corn, peas and carrots.
Chicken & avocado salad with chickpeas.
Toasted chicken and avocado with
soup with seeded roll.
The morning after: Scrambled eggs, grilled
mushroom and lean bacon on rye bread.
Snack: Antioxidant-rich smoothie (blueberries,
raspberries, wheat germ, yogurt, seeds, etc).
Lunch: Salmon, tomato and avocado salad/wrap.
Snack: Almonds and a fruit, e.g. orange or
steak with sweet potato and broccoli.
For the next few days concentrate on a healthy balanced diet that
includes lean protein, whole grains and plenty of colourful fruit and
vegetables. Remember that high-fat, refined carbohydrates/sugar lack essential
nutrients like vitamins and minerals and won’t supply the vital elements you
need for optimal muscle recovery that you need over this important time. Also consider taking a general
multivitamin to help you meet your daily vitamin and mineral needs. Choose an
age- and/or gender-specific multivitamin, i.e. no more than 200% of the daily
value for each individual nutrient.