The mega marketing job that’s been done by Big Nutrition has oversimplified recovery nutrition for endurance athletes to the point of stupidity
In short, they’ve boiled the whole subject down to just two points:
- Use carbs to fuel
- Use protein to recover
This works a treat for Big Nutrition because that’s all they sell – the cheapest carbs and proteins, wrapped in shiny marketing razzamatazz.
Trouble is, this model serves athletes terribly, derails performance, harms recovery and impairs results.
Follow these two points alone and you'll miss the biggest trick in recovery nutrition:
Or to put it even more simply: food quality.
When we train or race, we break our bodies down. When we recover, the training stimulus (triggered by having overstretched our physical limits) causes the body to repair and rebuild, coming back stronger and faster.
Or at least it should.
What we eat after a race, post session or during periods of intense training, is the fuel for that recovery and our choices here will either rebuild us better, or worse.
The simple maxim is: crap in, crap out.
If you throw junk food at your body in this period, you’re asking it to rebuild itself from a cellular level with crappy building blocks. Imagine building a skyscraper but using sand and old car tyres for the foundations. It's not going to work is it?
Yet junk food is exactly what thousands of athletes chow down when they turn to protein powders bars, and other processed ‘recovery’ products.
You’ve just smashed your body and now you’re giving it powder or a sticky bar to work on recovery with? Two things as far removed from real food as anything legally edible can actually get.
If you don’t believe us, read the ingredient labels – you won’t find anything in there you’ll recognise as food.
More importantly, nor will your body.
A body rebuilt on these shonky foundations can never reach its potential and is far more likely to suffer injury, illness and underperformance, a situation only compounded by further use of the same nutritionally-bankrupt products
Real food, packed with nutrition. Boom!
Recovery nutrition for endurance athletes: how to unleash real performance
It's simple: eat real food
Go for the most nutritionally dense foods you can find and eat as close to the source as possible. This doesn’t mean stuffing your face in the supermarket car park, it means eating foods that are as unprocessed as you can find, whole wherever possible - processing robs the nutrients your body needs from the foods you eat. Scoffing them whole neatly sidesteps this issue.
Next time you’re looking for recovery nutrition for your endurance efforts, don’t think of it as fuel, think of it as food.
Make it whole and natural, ensuring that the nutrient density is off the scale. You’ll be building a stronger and faster you on stronger and faster foundations.
Better still, the more you follow this path, the stronger and more powerful those foundations are going to get.
Instead of rebuilding a slower, sicker body you’re now building one that just keeps getting better. Nice work.
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