Part 1 Sleep, Hydration and Nutrition
1. Sleep is king
Sleep is the most effective way to improve recovery. Adequate levels of sleep help to promote mental health, hormonal balance, and muscular recovery. You need to get enough sleep, which is between 7 to 10 hours for most athletes(I sometimes sleep as much as 12 hours). Everyone has individual needs based on their lifestyle, workouts, and genetic makeup.
*Create an environment that is conducive for quality sleep. A dark quiet room, a comfortable bed and fresh cool air.
*Have a routine, try to go to sleep at the same time each night.
*Wake up with the sun if possible.
* Try to turn off all lights 1 hour before you want to sleep. This also includes the tv, computer and phone. Research indicates that the blue light especially, generated by electronic devices prevents you body from producing melatonin (a hormone that helps us fall asleep). If you can’t seem to turn off the electronic devices you can get a Blue light filter app for your phone that filters out the blue light as well as Blue light filter glasses, phone and computer/TV screens.
* Meditation. We live stressful lives and stress can leave our bodies in a state of fight or flight. When in this state we are tense, our breathing is shallow, our blood vessels are constricted and stress hormones are coursing through our vanes (not good for sleep or recovery). Mediation is the best way I have found to turn off the stress response and allow for relaxation, recovery and quality sleep. When I meditate I focus on my breath and the mantra “inhale relax, exhale release 1″(listening internally for my heartbeat),”inhale relax, exhale release 2”.The goal is to focus on my body, my breath and any sensations I can feel and watch for thoughts to pop into my mind, when they do I redirect my focus back to my breath. By counting at the end of the mantra 1-10 it is harder to go into auto pilot and therefore it is less likely your mind will wonder. Don’t be hard on yourself if it is hard at first, its like anything else, the more you practice the easier it gets. FYI, this practice has improved the quality of my life(not just my sleep) more than anything else I have found.
* Epsom salt bath. Taking an epsom salt bath has many benifits. Epsom salts in a bathwater medium creates a process called reverse osmosis. This process pulls salt and harmful toxins out of the body and allows the magnesium and sulfates to enter. Magnesium plays a critical role in over 325 enzymes, helps to improve muscle and nerve function, reduces inflammation and improves blood flow and oxygenation throughout the body. Sulfates are necessary building blocks for healthy joints, skin and nervous tissue. Epsom salts replenish the body’s magnesium levels and sulfates. This combination helps to flush toxins from the body and helps build key protein molecules in the brain tissue and joints. Epsom salt baths help to loosen muscles and encourages relaxation. I have found that meditating while taking an epsom salt bath with the lights off right before bedtime is the ultimate sleep improving relaxation and recovery protocol.
Drinking adequate amounts of water is imperative for overall health, energy, recovery, and performance. Your body is made primarily of water, and water helps carry nutrients, electrolytes and virtually every other substance in your body to your muscles and organs. If your cells don’t have enough water in them, protein synthesis can be delayed. If you’re dehydrated, your body may even start breaking down muscle tissue, which can undermine your fitness goals and make your muscles weaker.
Many physiologists recommend 2.5-3.7 liters for men and 2-2.7 litres for women but athletes will require more based on hours of exercise, temperature and several other factors. At minimum, you should drink water until you no longer feel thirsty. The simplest way to check hydration is to look at your pee. If it is clear to pale yellow you are hydrated. The darker and more color in your pee the less hydrated you are and more water you need to drink.
You’ll be able to perform better during repeated bouts of hard exercise if you have planned your recovery diet and have the right foods and fluids readily available to adequately replace calories, carbohydrates, protein, fluids and sodium. We have all heard of the 30 minute window and it really is important to eat the right kind of easy to adsorb carbs and protein as quickly as possible following intense or prolonged exercise.
While chicken, meat, fish, and eggs are all fine sources of protein, they aren’t the ideal type of protein for the meal right after your workout.
The protein in solid foods digest pretty slowly. You may have eaten a high protein food in your post workout meal, but by the time the protein is digested and finally ready to be used by your body, a whole lot of time would have passed. So…
A protein/carb shake will be digested by your body much quicker than solid foods.
I personally use Infinit Nutrition Repair Formula which mixes easily, tastes amazing and provides the perfect combination of carbs(60g), protein(15g), amino acids and electrolytes. Fast absorbing whey protein isolate along with slower absorbing casein and soy proteins for maximum recovery duration. Amino acids Isoleucine, Valine, Leucine and a blend of four different carbohydrate sources (maltodextrin, glucose, sucrose and crystalline fructose) for rapid muscle glycogen replenishment.
If you are worried about “good carbs” and “bad carbs?” As it turns out, this is actually one of the only times when “good carbs” and “bad carbs” switch roles.
Meaning, typical good carbs (oatmeal, brown rice, etc.) contain fiber and other nutrients that slow down digestion. Normally it is good to slow digestion and minimize insulin production by eating carbs with lots of fiber but not during or immediately following exercise.
Stay tuned for Recover like a Pro Pt 2
Compression, Massage, Stretching, Foam Rolling and Self Massage