Many people fail to understand the importance of recovery, but the smart athlete knows that while a proper workout program is essential for progress, it is what you do afterwards that will make all the difference.
Proper recovery includes not only appropriate and structured rest periods, but also the right nutrition. Recovery nutrition is one of the fastest growing fields in sports, as more and more athletes, trainers and nutritionists come to understand that eating the right things at the right time is crucial to your success.
When you have just finished a tough workout, there are several key priorities you need to address – recovery formulas are designed to address those. The first is the need for hydration – you need to drink. That’s why almost all recovery formulas are mixed with water. That ensures that you get sufficiently rehydrated as soon as possible.
The next need is for some high quality carbohydrates to refuel the glycogen supplies in your muscles. Carbohydrates provide the energy to power your muscles, so any hard workout will deplete the carbohydrate stores in your muscles – refilling this is an important part of your post-workout nutrition.
In addition, when you consume the right carbohydrates, you help your body to release insulin – this is important because insulin is the hormone responsible for shuttling carbohydrates and amino acids into the muscles.
However, while you need to get carbs in quickly, you also need to choose the right type of carbs. Most simple sugars – fructose, sucrose, and lactose – don’t work effectively. Thus you will find that most recovery formulas use a combination of Maltodextrin and Dextrose, both of which are absorbed directly through the gut into the bloodstream. They thus raise blood sugar and insulin levels faster than any other carb, and because they are in the form the body requires, glucose, they can be used immediately to replace muscle glycogen.
Finally, you need to replenish your protein supplies. Protein is the building block of muscles, and the best and quickest acting protein is whey protein. Combining all these elements in a recovery drink will ensure that you are ready to go again the next day.