Recuperation and Recovery Products: Information
The recovery phase which follows your training session is of critical importance in terms of achieving the maximum size, strength and conditioning gains possible. In fact, too many athletes underestimate the importance of the post-workout recovery phase, focusing instead on on preworkout products, hormones, and how long and hard they train.
Those factors are important, but the truth is, you don't get stronger when you train with weights. You don't build up your conditioning when you're training for your endurance event, either. In fact, all of your size, strength and conditioning gains occur during the all-important recovery and recuperation phase which begins the moment you stop training. If you short-change yourself on any aspect of recovery such as restful sleep, good nutrition, or a sufficient recuperation period before your next training session, you'll be short-changing yourself on results. No product can dictate how you balance your training and recovery periods, but Recovery and Recuperation products can definitely ensure that you have plenty of the all-important nutritional factors necessary for the maximum physical, adaptive response to your training, in other words, your gains. Let's look at what nutrients are most important for the recovery phase and how Recuperation and Recovery products end up being the best and most straightforward way to make sure those nutrients are readily available when your body most needs them.
Amino acids and protein are among the most important nutrients to consume post-workout, beginning as early as the second half of the workout. Because training physically damages muscle tissue at the cellular level, post-workout protein is urgently needed as a raw material to begin rebuilding and strengthening muscle fibers, connective tissue and forming the enzymes involved in recuperative processes. Protein shakes would cover this base, but as protein powders supply mostly protein and only very small amounts of other recovery nutrients, a protein shake isn't really the best type of post-workout shake unless other recovery nutrients are added. Cytomax Recovery is a great recovery formula full of protein and amino acids.
The amino acid compound creatine is often taken before and after workouts, since it is used up during the workout itself. Many Recuperation and Recovery Products include some creatine and creatine products are also used by some as standalone post-workout supplements. Creatine isn't actually used to build muscle or increase conditioning levels directly, but as it increases the work capacity of muscle, it can help one train harder and longer. Creatine can therefore lead to major strength gains indirectly. The Recuperation and Recovery period is an ideal time to replenish depleted creatine stores. This can be accomplished using a straight creatine monohydrate powder or a creatine and amino acid combination.
Besides amino acids, protein, and creatine, carbohydrates are also a critical type of recovery nutrient. Carbohydrates are a primary energy source for the body, and great quantities of carbohydrates – in the form of glycogen - are used up during intense training. The body pre-emptively stores carbohydrates as glycogen in the liver, so these glycogen stores will be available as a primary fuel source during strenuous exercise or other vigorous activity. Following the workout, glycogen stores are usually very low and levels of the catabolic (muscle-wasting) hormone cortisol are much higher than before training. The more intensely and longer one trains, the lower the glycogen stores and the higher the cortisol levels will be at the end of the session. Low glycogen and high cortisol levels create a deep and persistent sense of fatigue that may last until glycogen levels are restored, which requires both dietary carbs and time. Consuming some simple (fast-digesting) carbs post-workout causes a rise in insulin levels, which blunts the release of cortisol and facilitates cells' ingestion of amino acids and carbs. Importantly, the recovery and rebuilding processes at the cellular level also require a lot of energy, making it especially important to consume at least some simple carbohydrates immediately post workout. Power Bars' Performance Recovery Drink is an example of a good post-workout carb supplement.
Finally, electrolyte minerals are lost during exercise both through normal metabolism and perspiration. Electrolytes are essential to regulate nerve and muscle function as well as managing bodily pH and fluid balance. The more fluids you lose during exercise, the more electrolytes you lose, making electrolyte minerals another critical class of post-workout nutrient. Recuperation and Recovery formulas often include electrolyte minerals for these reasons. Our favorite electrolyte product is NOW Foods' Electro Pro.
Recuperation and Recovery Products may include one or more types of recovery nutrient discussed here. There is no one Recovery product that is ideal for everyone. But no matter what your training or supplement regimen is currently, you owe it to yourself to examine your post-workout nutrition to make sure all of these nutrients are available when your body needs them most. Good nutrition during the Recuperation and Recovery phase is the key to maximizing the body's response your hard work, allowing you to grow stronger and healthier with each workout.