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Post-workout Nutrition for Recovery.

It makes sense that different types of athletes have different needs when it comes to recovery nutrition. An endurance athlete (marathon runner, triathlete, cyclist, etc.) will have different nutritional needs than a powerlifter. And both of those athletes will have different nutritional needs than the average recreational athlete. What all of these athletes have in common, though, is the need for a combination of carbs and protein for performance as well as adequate post-workout recovery.

Why is post-workout recovery such a big deal? Because it helps our body replenish lost glycogen (carbohydrates) stores used during a training session or a competition, and it aids in tissue repair (protein) from the micro-tears that naturally occur during intense ultra-endurance events or strength training. Regardless of the type or level of athlete you are, if your body isn’t properly refueled after a workout, it won’t run properly. You also risk putting your body in a deficit state for their next training session as well as for everyday functioning. When recovery nutrition is subpar, adequate muscle glycogen can’t be replaced (and stored for future use) and tissue repair (muscle building) can’t occur. Over time, if post-workout nutrition isn’t properly managed, the immune system begins to suffer and things like fatigue, injury, upper-respiratory infections and sinus infections occur more frequently.

Overall, according to an article in the website Precision Nutrition (Ryan Andrews, “All About Post-Workout Nutrition”), the benefits of proper post-workout nutrition include:

  •  Improved recovery
  •  Less muscle soreness
  •  Increased ability to build muscle
  •  Improved immune function
  •  Improved bone mass
  •  Improved ability to use body fat

These benefits seem to work for everyone, regardless of gender or age. But they are not necessary for every situation. Here are a few basic rules of thumb to follow when considering recovery nutrition protocol:

  • Casual activities such as walking your dog, light yard work or a leisurely bike ride don’t require a recovery drink. Just drink water.
  •  Unless you are an endurance athlete with performance goals related to training for exercise periods lasting longer than an hour, there’s no need to sip a sports drink while you’re training. Drink water.
  •  If you’re an athlete “for the sport of life” like me, you don’t need a carb-replacing sports drink during a typical workout (lasting up to an hour). Drink water. (At most, an electrolyte replacement such as Nuun during our hot summer months might be necessary.) Focusing on your post-workout recovery nutrition is where you’ll reap your biggest rewards.

So, for the average athlete, what does post-workout nutrition look like and what’s the optimal window of opportunity?

A recovery drink or meal should be consumed within an hour or two of your workout. A drink that contains a carbohydrate-to-protein ratio of 2 to 1 is a good place to start, especially if you’re going straight to work or kid-shuttling from the gym. If possible, after your workout consume a whole meal within an hour or two.

Keep lean protein snacks handy (and drink lots of water) throughout your day (especially within that 1-2 hour post-workout window) so that you’re not tempted to fill up on low-quality, high-carb foods, like those break-room doughnuts!

Have you RSVP'd to our Bulletproof Your Low Back: From Pain to Performance workshop yet? It is this Saturday, March 24 from 1:00pm - 2:30pm.  Whether you are a performance athlete or an athlete of the sport of life, and you suffer from low back pain, this is the workshop for you!  Call 702.558.2151 or visit our Facebook page at http://bit.ly/2EUHUgd, to RSVP.

Hope to see you there, 
Dr. Kyle Buth