Eat and Sleep to Recover from Intense Exercise

By Dr. Gabe Mirkin




Eat and Sleep to Recover from Intense Exercise

Top endurance athletes use hydration, nutrition, and sleep to help them recover from intense exercise. When you exercise for endurance, you use up glycogen, the sugar that is stored for energy in your muscles, and you damage muscle fibers. You will recover faster from intense exercise by:

• Eating a high-carbohydrate meal as soon as possible after you finish a competition or intense workout .

• Adding protein to that meal hastens recovery even more .

• Taking caffeine-rich foods and drinks such as coffee or chocolate may help muscles replenish their stored sugar sources faster .

• Drinking lots of fluids is also necessary for a faster recovery.

• Going to sleep soon after you finish intense exercise hastens recovery. Intense exercise damages muscles, which causes your pituitary gland to produce large amounts of human growth hormone (HGH) that helps repair injured tissues, and you produce the largest amounts of HGH when you sleep . A ninety-minute recovery nap after you exercise also improves your ability to reason and think.



Train by Stressing and Recovering
All training for sports that require strength or endurance is based on "stress and recover". You take an intense workout to damage your muscles so that when they heal, they will become stronger and have greater endurance. You know that you have caused Z-line muscle fiber damage because you will feel Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness (DOMS) 4-24 hours after you stop exercising. Then you exercise at a very low intensity for as many days as it takes for muscles to heal. Only when your muscles feel fresh again do you take your next intense workout.

My Recommendations
As long as your post-intense-exercise meal contains lots of protein and carbohydrates, it doesn't matter much what you eat ). Hamburgers, French fries and other fast foods helped athletes recover just as quickly from hard workouts as sports nutrition products such as Gatorade, PowerBars or Clif Bars . The fastest way to get muscles to heal is to have your body produce lots of insulin, which you will get when you take in any source of carbohydrates. You must also provide a supply of protein to repair the damaged tissue. Insulin drives sugar into cells to be used for energy, and it also drives protein building blocks called amino acids into the muscle cells to help them heal faster. Add salt on hot days, when your muscles feel excessively fatigued or you develop cramps. See Recovery: the Key to Improvement in Your Sport



This article is courtesy of Dr. Mirkin

Sports medicine doctor, fitness guru and long-time radio host Gabe Mirkin, M.D., brings you news and tips for your healthful lifestyle.  A practicing physician for more than 50 years and a radio talk show host for 25 years, Dr. Mirkin is a graduate of Harvard University and Baylor University College of Medicine. He is board-certified in four specialties: Sports Medicine, Allergy and Immunology, Pediatrics and Pediatric Immunology. The Dr. Mirkin Show, his call-in show on fitness and health, was syndicated in more than 120 cities. Read More