The Three R's of Recovery
Post-training recovery is crucial to overall athletic performance and if you are not fully recovering after a session, you will not be in a position to perform optimally in the next session. Training and exercise put significant strain on the body; burning energy, breaking muscle tissue and utilising important nutrients and fluids. Exercise also inflicts a certain amount of inflammation and stress onto the body and although this is part of the training and adaption process, it is important that you re-fuel effectively after a session to maximise on this process.
To simplify this, the process of effective recovery has been broken down into ‘The 3 R’s’; Refuel, Rebuild and Rehydrate. These three principles are the foundation of effective post-workout recovery and optimum training adaptions and are a critical part of a post-training regime.
Refuel with carbohydrates. The first step in effective recovery is to refuel the body with its key energy source, glycogen. Glycogen levels are depleted during exercise and refuelling with carbohydrates provides the body with fuel to recover and replenish these stores. Research indicates that the muscle cells’ ability to refuel glycogen stores peaks around 15 minutes post-exercise and declines by up to 40% at 60 minutes post-exercise. Further to this, delayed ingestion of carbohydrates by several hours post-exercise can decrease muscle glycogen replenishment by up to 50%. Recommendations are to consume 0.8 – 1.0 g / kg bodyweight of complex carbohydrates in the post-exercise window. This means a 80kg male would require between 64 – 80g of carbohydrates post-training.
Rebuild with protein. Alongside glycogen stores, it is also important to provide the body with the fuel required to rebuild muscle fibres damaged during exercise; this is also crucial to support with muscle growth as well as repair. Muscle damage can occur in any session, from simple cardio to high-intensity weight training, and so replenishing protein is an essential aspect of post-workout refuelling. Depending on the type and intensity of the exercise undertaken, it is recommended that between 0.3 – 0.5 g / kg bodyweight of protein is required to ensure effective muscle repair post-training. This means a 65kg female would require between 19.5 – 32.5g of protein after a training session, depending on the intensity. The ideal is to consume this within 60 minutes of training; however, this is not imperative for recovery.
Rehydrate with fluid and electrolytes. Rehydration is often a much lower priority in an athlete’s post-workout plan however it is crucial to replenish the body of any fluids and electrolytes lost during training. During exercise it is not uncommon for an athlete to lose 1 – 2 litres of fluid per hour of exercise, and it is important to remember that alongside fluids, electrolytes such as sodium and potassium are also lost in sweat. To find out more information on creating a hydration strategy, check out our post on the Importance of Hydration.
If you are looking for professional support to create an effective post-workout regime, make sure to get in touch with the ARC Nutrition team via our Contact Us page.