Nutrition For Recovery
It is time for us to expand upon our recent article on why the heck you should care about your nutrition. If you are a part of the NapTown Fitness family, then you are an athlete. Even if you have never competed in a formal competition in your entire life, we consider you to be athletes. Consider this from one of the earliest articles on the CrossFit Journal from the founder himself:
Can I enjoy optimal health without being an athlete?
No! Athletes experience a protection from the ravages of aging and disease that non-athletes never find. For instance, 80-year-old athletes are stronger than non-athletes in their prime at 25 years old. If you think that strength isn’t important consider that strength loss is what puts people in nursing homes. Athletes have greater bone density, stronger immune systems, less coronary heart disease, reduced cancer risk, fewer strokes, and less depression than non-athletes.
So yes, we think of you bad a$$es as athletes. The base of our athletic pyramid is our nutrition. As we have said before, you cannot outwork a bad diet. Now, I am not saying that I want you to go into your fridge and pantry and chuck everything into the trash immediately if it is not “good” for you and replace it with broccoli, kale, and chicken breasts. That is both not realistic and not a balanced way to live your life.
What I am saying is that you should start to pay closer attention to what you are putting in your body. It is valuable to perhaps start thinking of food more as fuel for you performance than just something you eat because you are bored, hungry, or it happens to be near you. Here are a few things to consider when adjusting your nutrition to optimize your athletic performance and recovery:
Eat whole foods: It does not matter who you ask, the paleo campers, the vegans, the raw foodies, the Mediterranean dieters, they all largely agree that our diet should be mostly made up of whole foods. This means food with a limited shelf life. If it has a better chance of surviving a nuclear war than you, avoid eating it. Fill your plates with veggies and fruits as often as possible. Hide them in your smoothies and omelets, pair them with food you love, reward yourself for trying a new way of preparing something. Taste the rainbow and go for as much variety in the color of your fruits and veggies as you can manage, each has something different to bring to the table from the land of vitamins and minerals.
Protein is king: we talked in the last article briefly about macronutrients; proteins, carbohydrates, and fats. All food is made up of one or more of these macronutrients. You can scour the internet for centuries and still run out of time to read all that there is to know on the debate of high carb vs. low carb and high fat vs. low fat dieting. In my years of experience, I truly believe that each individual is different and needs to find what works for them in this realm. But what is important for everyone is getting enough protein. It plays a huge role in helping our muscles to grow so we can get stronger, faster, and more fit. More on protein soon…
Fat and carbs are essential too: there is a reason that these guys are a part of the macronutrient family. They are also essential for our bodies to function properly. Again, the answer to how much you need of each is an incredibly personal decision but no matter who you are you need some of each. These macronutrients assist in absorption of micronutrients, provide us with energy stores, aid in brain function, and insulate our organs. In other words, we need them to keep on keepin’ on.
You gotta eat: Before and after workouts, it is important to fuel yourself properly. It was my gym teacher’s pet peeve in high school when kids would come into first period gym class and admit to him that they had had nothing for breakfast and I have come to develop that same feeling of frustration myself as a coach. I will often hear people say that they don’t feel well when they workout on a full stomach so my advice is not to fill up your stomach. Find something that is easy on your tummy and small enough to not fill you up but will still give you a little boost for your workout. If you absolutely cannot eat before your workout, then have something available right away after your workout. A protein shake is a great option as it will digest quickly and be easy on your stomach as you are coming down from that workout sick feeling. Be aware of what is in your protein powder though. Some are filled to the brim with sugars to make you fall in love with them and others can have over 50g of protein per serving. That may seem like a wonderful thing until you consider the fact that your body can only digest between 25g and 35g of protein in a single sitting.
Nutrition is an essential determinant of how we perform in and out of the gym. The best advice that I can give is to be as aware of your diet as you are of your Fran time. Practice logging your food for a week and notice days when you feel great and days when you feel less than on point. Look at your nutrition for patterns and start to make adjustments and then reassess. Nutrition in the fitness community is almost as taboo a subject as religion, everyone has their own way that they believe is THE WAY. Before getting caught up in that battle, take the time to find out what works best for your individual goals and lifestyle.