Have you amped up the intensity of your exercise routine since the beginning of the year? If so you may have experienced the feeling of ‘hitting the wall’ when participating in strenuous exercise. This is the point when glycogen stores are no longer available which leads to sudden fatigue and energy loss. Or perhaps your new favorite vigorous workout is giving you that endorphin high, but also contributing to the dread of DOMS (delayed-onset muscle soreness) the next day?
Now we don’t want you to be put off so read on for our top 3 ways to help your body recover faster so you can stick to your regime and make 2019 your healthiest year yet!
- Timing: there’s a window of opportunity
There is a glycogen window after exercise. This is the time you should invest in replenishing your body with carbohydrates AND protein rich foods to aid glycogen replenishment. By including a meal which is rich in both carbohydrates and protein 1 – 2 hours after you’ve exercised you will enhance glycogen re-synthesis, which aids muscle retention as well as growth. You will benefit from a reduction in fatigue if you keep your muscle and liver glycogen stores topped up. Need some ideas for what to eat post-workout? Help speed up your recovery with:
- Wholegrain bread topped with nut butter or avocado and eggs
- Greek yoghurt and granola (preferably homemade or a low-sugar shop bought one)
- Hummus and corn cakes
- Sweet potato egg muffin
- Protein shake with oats
- Load up on antioxidants
Although exercise alleviates the negative effects caused by free radicals and reduces the risk of developing chronic diseases, physical performance does induce oxidative stress, inflammation and muscle fatigue. In order to offset exercised-induced oxidative stress we should increase our intake of nutritional antioxidants to neutralize free radicals, decrease ROS (reactive oxygen species production) and repair oxidized cell membranes. Your top sources are:
- Vitamin E: Found in sunflower seeds, almonds, salmon, avocado
- Vitamin C: Kale, kiwis, chilis, bell peppers, broccoli, citrus fruits
- Polyphenols: Blueberries, blackberries, strawberries, cherries, hazelnuts, artichokes
- Flavonoids: apples, pears, broccoli, green tea, red wine
- Curcumin: is the compound found in turmeric. It’s important to know that turmeric in any form is not easily absorbed by the body on its own. Turmeric is fat-soluble, meaning it needs to be in the presence of fat to be easily absorbed. In food/ smoothies try coconut oil. If you’re taking then combine with an omega-3. A compound in black pepper, piperine, also increase absorption so try adding black pepper to your concoction. Raw turmeric contains the active ingredients which are lost during the process to make turmeric powder. Use 2 inches of fresh turmeric root and a grater to yield 1 tbsp (stored in the fridge it will last for ages).
It is best to continuously take antioxidants throughout your training period as opposed to immediately before or after. Increasing your overall intake of antioxidants will help to reduce inflammation, in turn speeding up your body’s natural recovery process.
- Cold therapy
Immersing your body into the cold helps us recover faster and reduces muscle soreness. When your body is cold blood vessels constrict which forces blood to peripheral tissues, removing toxins and inflammation. The most effective way to do this is braving 3 minutes in a Cryotherapy Chamber, the holy grail of recovery. With a temperature set at -85 you’ll immediately benefit from a rush of clean, oxygenated blood with enriches skin and muscles. As your muscles warm after the session you’ll benefit from an increased range of motion, a decrease in inflammation and a noticeably shortened recovery time. If cost/ access is an issue, then a chilly (but effective) alternative is an ice bath.