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Nutrition: Boost your recovery

Posted Oct 05 2009 10:00pm

By Dr Kevin Currell

Recovery is the often-forgotten part of training. It’s in the periods between training sessions that the body repairs itself and, more importantly, adapts from the training you’ve just done. Nutrition plays a vital role in how the body recovers and adapts from training.

There are two nutrients essential to recovery – carbohydrate and protein. During exercise, carbohydrate acts as the main energy source and the body’s small carbohydrate stores often become depleted.

When this happens, the body is put under a lot of stress and those carb stores need to be quickly restored. The first hour or so after exercise is the optimal time to restore these.

Protein plays a major role in allowing the muscles to regenerate, repair and adapt. After undertaking hard exercise, damage is often done to the muscles. Protein is essential for them to recover. Protein also allows the body to adapt to the training by providing the fuel to build new enzymes and muscle fibres.

The following recipes all provide a good mix of carbohydrate and proteins to maximise recovery.

Efficient refuelling: Quinoa and cinnamon chicken

You will need:

100g quinoa
1 chicken stock cube
Small handful of chopped coriander
1 salad onion, finely chopped
Juice of one lemon
1 tablespoon of olive oil
1 tablespoon cinnamon
2 tablespoons fresh yogurt
100g chicken breast

Cook the quinoa according to packet instructions (takes 10-15 minutes).
Add the chicken stock cube to the quinoa while cooking. Meanwhile, butterfly the chicken breast.
Mix the cinnamon with the yoghurt and cover the chicken breast with it.
Grill the chicken for 15 minutes or until cooked.
Mix the cooked quinoa with the coriander, onion, lemon and olive oil. Serve the chicken on top of the quinoa.
Recovery advantages:

Quinoa is one of the few complete proteins in non-meat-based foods so it provides all of the essential amino acids, which enhance recovery from exercise. Cinnamon decreases insulin resistance, helping carbs enter the muscles.

Nutritional information:

Energy: 601kcal
Carbohydrate: 61g
Protein: 50g
Fat: 19g

Muscle repair: Cherry Bakewell smoothie

You will need:

1 pint semi-skimmed milk
20g almond butter
10 cherries – stones removed

Place all the ingredients in a blender and blend until smooth.
Recovery advantages:

Milk is a great recovery food. Research has shown that milk is just as effective as any of the recovery drinks in maximising the body’s repair after exercise. It’s a good mix of carbs and complete proteins. Cherries have been shown to decrease the delayed onset of muscle soreness after a hard training session. This could be particularly useful for any off-season gym sessions.
Nutritional information:

Energy: 440 kcal
Carbohydrate: 40g
Protein: 25g
Fat: 21g

Stress-busting: Steamed salmon and potato salad

You will need:

1 salmon fillet
300g new potatoes
Mixed salad
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar

Set some water to boil, Place a steamer on top of the boiling water.
Halve the potatoes. Place the salmon fillet and potatoes in the steamer and steam for around 10 minutes.
Meanwhile, mix the salad together. Add the olive oil and balsamic vinegar to taste.
Serve as soon as the salmon and potatoes are cooked.
Recovery advantages:

Salmon and other oily fish are great sources of omega 3 fatty acids. These fatty acids help the body cope with the inflammation that occurs through training, speeding up the recovery process. Balsamic vinegar may have some health benefits, such as preventing the development of heart disease and diabetes, and has a high antioxidant activity. It’s good to have after a tough weekend club bike ride, when you have had to work hard.

Nutritional information:

Energy: 517 kcal
Carbohydrates: 50g
Protein: 27g
Fat: 24g

Immune-boosting apple crumble smoothie

You will need:

1 pint milk
1 medium eating apple cored and chopped
20g oats soaked overnight in apple juice

Place all the ingredients in a blender and blend until smooth.
Recovery advantages:

Apples are a good source of the bioflavanoid quercetin. Research has shown that quercetin helps the immune system, particularly during periods of heavy training. Oats are a fantastic source of slow-release carbs and fibre. Using raw oats that you’ve soaked yourself overnight allows the oats to retain all their nutrients. One in particular, beta glucan, supports the immune system. This smoothie is ideal as a quick breakfast after an early morning swim.

Nutritional information:

Energy: 398kcal
Carbohydrate: 52g
Protein: 22g
Fat: 12g
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