Replenish to Recover
Set yourself up for the long haul with proper refuelling. The well-fuelled endurance workout takes into account the nutrition and calories needed to complete the session successfully, but also the nutrition needed to replenish and recover for subsequent training.
Just how important is post-workout recovery nutrition? Susan Kitchen, sports certified dietician, usat coach and owner of Race Smart explains that “the goal of recovery nutrition is to convert the body from a catabolic state ( breakdown) to an anabolic state ( building).”
Kitchen advises refuelling in the optimal window of 30 minutes post-workout. There are several reasons for this: the blood f low to the muscles is greater immediately after exercise, digestive enzymes are most active, and the muscle cells are more sensitive to the effects of insulin which promotes glycogen synthesis. Research shows that athletes who follow the 30-minute rule will store up to three times more glycogen than those who wait two or more hours to eat post workout. The faster you replace glycogen, the faster you recover.
Consume foods high in carbohydrates and include some protein. High carbohydrate foods will replace the glycogen your muscles need in order to repair and recover from the stress they were under during a training session. Generally, athletes need one to 1.5 grams of carbohydrate and 10 to 25 grams of protein. For example, a 145 lb. person should consume one gram of carbohydrate per pound of body weight plus six to 15 grams of protein (e.g. 1.0 x 145 = 145 grams of carbohydrate plus six to 15 grams of protein).
While your nutrition window postworkout is important, so too is the food you eat during the rest of your day. Your body is a fine-tuned machine similar to a sports car. The type of gas you use has a direct correlation to how well the engine runs. Choose foods that nourish and support your training.
Consume fresh fruit and vegetables, whole grain rice and pastas and bread, eggs, lean unprocessed meat like steak, chicken breast, pork and turkey. Opt for food that’s as close to its natural state as possible is the rule to follow. A prepared chicken meal that was prepared three months ago and frozen in a factory is going to be less nutritionally dense than a grilled fresh chicken breast, with fresh steamed broccoli and brown rice. A bagel with almond butter and banana is a better choice than a packaged cookie, muffin or granola bar.
The basics to eating for triathlon are simple: follow a general diet that is nutrientdense, whole and consistent with the energy expended each day. Kitchen sums it up well: “A well-balanced diet is important for body, mind, disease prevention, quality of life, performance and weight management. Eat well today for a great workout tomorrow.”