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Nutrition and Recovery Explained

Updated: Jun 6, 2023

Ultimate Cheat Sheet on Nutrition and Recovery


This guide will show you how to fuel your running performance.

Properly fuelling your body enhances performance by providing energy, supporting recovery, and optimizing bodily functions. Key benefits include:

  1. Energy production: Nutrients from food are converted into energy for physical and mental tasks.

  2. Optimal nutrient availability: Balanced nutrition supports bodily functions crucial for performance.

  3. Improved endurance: Carbohydrates fuel endurance activities by maintaining glycogen stores.

  4. Muscle growth and repair: Protein supports muscle growth, repair, and strength.

  5. Mental clarity and focus: Nutrient-rich foods enhance cognitive function.

  6. Enhanced recovery: Proper nutrition replenishes stores and aids tissue repair.

  7. Reduced risk of injuries and illnesses: Nutrition supports immunity and overall health.

In summary, fuelling your body properly optimizes performance by providing energy, supporting recovery, and reducing the risk of injuries and illnesses.


 

What to eat before you run.

Here's a breakdown of suggested timing and options for pre-workout fuelling:

  • 3-5 hours before: Have a balanced meal containing carbohydrates, protein, and fats. Example: Rice, fish, and vegetables.

  • 2 hours before: Opt for a snack with carbs, protein, and fats. Example: Protein shake, fruit, simple grains, and a small portion of nuts.

  • 1 hour before: Choose a snack or fluid with carbs. Example: Banana, oatmeal, or powders mixed in water.

  • 15 minutes before: Consume a fluid containing carbs. Example: Powders mixed in water or an energy gel.

Remember, individual preferences may vary, so experiment with the timing of your meals to determine what works best for you.


What to eat after you run.

Post-workout nutrition guidelines:

  1. After an easy run (30–60 minutes long): Consume a carb drink/bar/food.

  2. After a long run: Opt for a carbohydrate-protein drink/food.

  3. After a hard workout or race: Choose a carbohydrate-protein drink/food.

Ideally, aim for a 4:1 carb to protein ratio with approximately 100–300 calories immediately after exercise.


Examples of post-workout options include chocolate milk, cereal with milk, fruit and yogurt, eggs and toast, peanut butter, trail mix, bagel with peanut butter, and fruit for carbs, along with cheese.


The combination of carbs and protein helps replenish glycogen stores and jumpstart muscle repair. Protein synthesis is increased with protein intake, aiding in muscle recovery and growth.


If feeling particularly sore or worn down:

  • Increase protein intake with multiple servings throughout the day.

  • Consume protein right before sleep, such as drinking a glass of milk, to enhance the overnight repair process and activate recovery hormones.

Regarding vitamins/supplements:

  • Avoid taking vitamin C, E, or anti-inflammatories (e.g., ibuprofen) within 2 hours after a hard workout.

  • Antioxidants and anti-inflammatories immediately after exercise can dampen the training effect and hinder the body's natural inflammatory response, which affects recovery and training adaptation.

Recovery Support

Ice Baths:

  • DO NOT take an ice bath after a workout unless it is necessary due to an injury.

  • Ice baths right after a workout can reduce inflammation, but that initial inflammation is essential for the body's adaptation and repair process.

  • The muscles need to recognize the damage before they can begin rebuilding and becoming stronger.

  • Additionally, regularly taking ice baths can lead to a diminished effect, so it's recommended to save them for when they are truly needed, such as during the week or two leading up to an important competition.

Caffeine:

  • It's important to limit caffeine intake, especially before or after workouts.

  • Caffeine acts as a Central Nervous System (CNS) stimulant, and intense workouts also stress the CNS.

  • When you artificially stimulate the CNS with caffeine and then subject it to a demanding workout, it may lead to a temporary performance boost but a subsequent significant crash.

  • Consistently combining caffeine and intense workouts can overtax the nervous system.

  • Chronic consumption and withdrawal from caffeine can alter brain receptors, making the energy spike less effective and causing withdrawal symptoms when not consumed.

Sleep:

  • Sleep plays a crucial role in the body's repair, recovery, and learning processes.

  • Recovery hormones peak during deep sleep.

  • Protein synthesis, which aids in muscle rebuilding, is highest during sleep.

  • Sleep enhances the consolidation of newly learned skills and muscle patterns.

Stretching:

  • Dynamic stretching is recommended before workouts, while static stretching is better suited for after.

  • Static stretching temporarily decreases a muscle's force production capability.

  • Static stretching involves ripping collagen bonds in the muscles, which can be beneficial for muscle lengthening but not ideal for immediately engaging in intense activities such as running.

Workouts:

  • Harder workouts don't always guarantee better results.

  • The key is to follow smart and proper training methods that allow for progressive improvement and adaptation.

  • Consistently executing well-designed workouts is essential.

  • It's important to communicate with your coach or trainer if a workout feels too challenging or too easy.


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