Know When to Eat!
Recovery is just as important as the workouts and practices we dedicate ourselves towards as athletes. Without adequate recovery, we don’t adapt, we don’t compensate, and we limit the improvement process we are seeking. Using the right foods and supplementation is imperative to our growth as athletes. Over the years we have heard a number of different people, some credible and some not, discuss the timing of when we eat. By the time you’ve finished reading this you should know not just when it is important to re-fuel, but WHAT we should be re-fueling with.
Our recovery and nutritional recommendations may not necessarily be for everyone, but for the sake of advising on protein supplementation, we are going to aim this small write-up towards athletes. Everyone’s bodies not only react differently to training, but to the nutrients we provide as well. These recommendations are backed by the modern science and research as well as our experiences as athletes and coaches.
We all have an inherent idea of when we are supposed to consume meals. We have all grown to understand breakfast, lunch and dinner and the timings for each. Whether we actually eat them at that given time can be a different story all together. To help an athlete grow muscle and or recover, 3 meals a day may not be enough. Most sources say that 4-6 meals a day are required to kick start the body into a high state of muscle growth.
Total protein intake is a major factor in creating growth, repairing damage and ultimately assisting in overall recovery. The body will need this extra protein when synthesizing and restoring damaged muscle tissue. The daily recommended protein intake for a sedentary individual is only .8 g per kg of body weight (around .4 g per lb). Research is conflicted on how much is needed for growing children, adolescents, and athletes.
What we recommend at Elite, and what most research shows, is that around 1.4 – 2 g/kg of body weight (.7 – 1 g/lb) is ideal for the developing athlete and a mature athlete as well.
Before and After Sleep
Before and after sleep are pivotal times for our bodies to recover. We’ve all heard that breakfast is the most important meal of the day. Studies show breakfast needs to be consumed after 45 minutes of waking up to restore your body’s blood sugar levels and kick-start your metabolism.
Before going to bed, it is important to give our bodies the essentials it needs to repair from a good days work. Most studies show that a protein intake of around 20-40 grams of a long digesting protein, like casein, Is ideal for the night time recovery process. It is also important that the body has plenty of essential amino acids to aid in muscle recovery and growth or repair.
Timing Food Around Exercise
When planning pre and post workout snacks and meals, there are a few major points that need to be addressed:
PRE: Give your body fuel to train!
- Somewhere around an hour before training, give your body about 20-30 g of long digesting carbohydrates. Carbohydrates are easier to break down into energy and complex carbs are best. These carbs include things like wheat bread, brown rice, and oatmeal. This will help fuel you energy sub straights and provide you with readily available / convertible fuel for better workouts.
- Balance out your pre-workout meal or snack with protein. An equal amount of protein to carbohydrates should do the trick and should be ingested around 1 hour before training. This will give the body amino acids and keep the body in an optimal nitrogen balance.
POST: Give your body what it needs to recover!
- POST WORKOUT TIMING IS VITAL. Studies have shown the window for adaptation begins to close 45 minutes post workout.
- The window fully closes around 2 hours post workout according to Dr. John Ivy (Nutrient Timing: The Future of Sports Nutrition)
- Your body needs 20-25 g protein (w/ around 8 g of essential amino acids) post workout.
- Carb to protein ratio should be around the 3:1 range, depending on body composition.
- ex: 50 g carbs and 20 g protein.
- Get 4-6 meals in a day (depending on caloric needs)
- Total protein intake should be between .7 – 1 g per lb of bodyweight.
- Eat 20-30 carbs and protein between 1-2 hours before training.
- Eat at least 25 g of protein and have a carb to protein ratio of between 2:1 and 4:1 after training.
- DONT MISS YOUR 45 MINUTE WINDOW.
- Eat before going to bed. Lean protein around 20-40 g with amino acids.
- Eat breakfast as soon as you wake up. Don’t wait longer than 45 minutes.
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