Utilizing Food as Fuel in Recovery

I know we’ve all been told how important stretching after a workout is, and how important active recovery workouts are, but what a lot of people don’t recognize is how important our nutrition is after a strenuous workout or series of workouts.  By utilizing food as fuel, we can help combat soreness and speed up recovery to optimize our performance, even after a strenuous workout.

Optimizing Recovery with Nutrition | Add More Protein

One of the biggest issues most athletes face in their nutrition after a workout is consuming more protein. When we are training hard, especially when lifting weights or targeting muscle groups, our body needs protein to recover. What ends up happening so often in the athletic world is eating high carbohydrates or fats after a workout, or simply not eating enough food in general.

The ratios of carbohydrates to protein varies depending on your goals. If you are trying to lose weight, you may consider a ratio of about 2 to 1 protein to carbohydrates. However, if you are maintaining a weight and just trying to lean out, you may eat more carbohydrates to protein.

What About Sugar And Calories?

The thing to keep in mind regarding sugar and carbohydrates is the timing of when you are eating them. In general, Americans do eat too much sugar. But if you are timing the sugar consumption around a working out, your body can utilize it to refuel your muscles with glycogen stores.

Another topic to address is calorie deficits. When we’re eating 1000 calories one day and 3000 the next our body doesn’t know what to do with the energy. Does it store it or does it utilize it to get through the day? So our body holds onto the fuel as fat, and this is how we end up gaining weight. If you find a balance and maintain homeostasis, our bodies can burn the good more efficiently.

Myths Surrounding Food Utilization as Fuel

White vs. Wheat

It isn’t so important to eat one versus the other, it is more of a question of when you’re eating them. Similar to the timing you want to use when you consume sugar. Let’s look at white rice. White rice is better suited for quick utilization by the body. So consuming it before or after a workout would be reasonable. Brown rice is better suited for dinner time, because it is a bit higher in fiber and is going to keep you fuller longer.

You Can’t Eat After a Certain Time in the Evening

Myth. You can eat whenever you want. I wouldn’t recommend eating carbohydrates or fruits that are high in sugar late, but you can. Your body just won’t process it as well as if you were eating it closer to a workout. When you consume these foods closer to a workout, it is easier for your body to utilize it as fuel to create your energy.

Nutrition is Not One Size Fits All

One thing to keep in mind, nutrition is not one size fits all. One of the problems with all the diet fads out there, intermittent fasting, keto and carb cycling, is that what works for one person may not work for another. It is so important to consult with someone trained in nutrition. Find a program that works best for you. And work with them to reach your individual goals.