Sports Nutrition Tips

In honor of the annual New York City Marathon that took place yesterday, a post on proper recovery tips felt most appropriate. Being a sports nutrition specialist, I come across many people who either know very little, or just don’t bother enforcing, basic sports nutrition principles. These include staying hydrated, consuming the right amount of carbs prior to a race, and taking in the right ratio of protein and carbs post race. If you have ever run, biked, swam, or did any other intense activity for longer than 60 minutes than these recovery tips are for you.

After 60 minutes of high intensity exercising, the body is almost completely out of stored glycogen, or fuel, and significant dehydration and muscle damage can start to kick in. If you’re not careful then I am sure you can guess what comes next…IMPAIRED PERFORMANCE AND POSSIBLE INJURY!

So for those of you who plan on signing up for next year’s marathon, recovering properly is the single most important thing you do. Whether you feel like eating/drinking or not, here is what you should know:

1) Recovery starts as soon as your heart rate slows which is why it is recommended to consume something within 30 minutes post exercise.

2) Exercise causes damage to muscles which is why you need protein which provides repairing amino acids. Think whey protein power, yogurt, milk, or even lean chicken or eggs will do.

3) Stop neglecting carbs! In fact, carbs should be at least 50% of your recovery meal or snack because not only is your body depleted of them, but carbohdyrates help carry the protein to your muscles. Carbs like fresh fruit, bread, cereal, or in gatorade are good examples.

4) Don’t stop drinking water. You have just sweated out a lot of water and even if you had a bottle at your side the whole time, chances are you’re still dehydrated. For every 1 hour of exercise you should be drinking 16-24 ounces of fluids. If you raced longer than 60 minutes, include electrolytes sodium, potassium, calcium, and magnesium.

5) Avoid too much fat which can slow your body’s ability to absorb the protein and carbs quickly. You want this recovery meal/snack to be high glycemic so a little sugar just this one time of day is not a bad thing. For example, low-fat chocolate milk is still health experts #1 pick for adequate sports recovery drinks as it contains the perfect amount of sugar, carbs, protein and even some electrolytes.

6) Above all, remember to bask at the finish line and praise yourself for completing such a huge accomplishment =)

Nick VanMeter