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Athletes reach elite status by performing at peak levels as frequently as possible. Repairing their bodies after strenuous activity is critical for sustaining high level performance.
The recovery phase restores the body to full strength and also allows for growth. Protein is synthesized, torn fibers are repaired to build new muscle, and the body becomes faster, stronger, and healthier after recovering from this stress.
The best athletes understand that recovery and performance are directly connected, and they take them both very seriously.
If you’re looking to maximize your performance and compete at the highest level, we’ve got 5 secret recovery methods of top-performing athletes that you need to consider.
LeBron Freeze Himself - YouTube
Elite athletes like LeBron James as well as actors like Hugh Jackman – aka Wolverine from X-Men – uses cryotherapy to train harder and recover faster between workouts and games.
Using low temperatures is nothing new. Whole-body cryotherapy is an ice bath taken to the extreme. The cryo chamber temperature is lowered to -180 F° to -220 F°, and athletes stand inside for approximately 90 seconds. Originally designed for medical use, athletes now use cryotherapy to help maximize recovery.
A study found that athletes who soaked in a 50-degree Fahrenheit bathtub after 90 minutes of training reported less soreness than those who didn’t use the low temp recovery method.
“Randomised studies have shown cold water immersion (the ice-bath equivalent of cryotherapy) is better than doing nothing after sport because it reduced muscle soreness by 10-15%.” – Dr. Chris Bleakley, Sports Scientist at University of Ulster Sports Academy
Science is still debating whether cryotherapy actually repairs damaged tissue, but even reduced soreness and inflammation will improve recovery and performance.
Hyperbaric oxygen therapy (HBOT) saturates the organs with 100% pure oxygen to help improve recovery.
Michael Phelps slept in a hyperbaric oxygen chamber while training for the 2008 Olympics. Numerous NFL players swear they heal injuries faster using hyperbaric oxygen therapy.
By increasing the pressure of oxygen in the chamber, oxygen is spread through blood plasma and bodily fluids. HBOT brings fresh oxygen to organs and tissues by way of harmless diffusion.
This helps alleviate pain and minimize training stresses by delivering restorative adenosine triphosphate (ATP) to muscles. This flushes lactic acid from muscles in order to accelerate recovery. Ultimately, more oxygen-rich blood boosts healing.
Also called hyperthermic training, infrared saunas are the evolution of centuries-old science.
Instead of heated water, infrared saunas use infrared light to warm the tissues and rejuvenate the body.
As early as 1989, studies found sauna use to increase levels of human growth hormone (HGH) post-exercise, effectively boosting protein synthesis, muscle growth, and recovery. Studies have also found traditional sauna use improves endurance running performance, likely due to increased blood volume in the body.
Recent research confirms that modern infrared saunas produce similar effects in neuromuscular recovery systems in the body. By improving the body’s ability to thermoregulate under heated conditions, this improves restorative processes after high-stress physical activity to further overall performance.
Heat therapy is proven effective at improving rates of recovery and increasing training potential.
Soft-tissue massage is a popular method to decrease training recovery time and enhance muscle growth.
Pressure from the massage motion applies a suction to muscles. When removed, the massaged area vasodilates, which increases circulation in hard-worked tissues.
To best repair torn muscle fibers, blood flow must be maximized. Massage loosens tight, post-workout muscle groups to improve the availability of blood-borne nutrients needed for recovery.
Because strength adaption occurs during the recovery phase, relaxed muscles facilitate greater muscle repair. Massage optimizes vascular circulation and maximizes gains in lean muscle mass.
As science progresses, proper nutrition proves to be the best way to maximize training recovery.
For fast hydration, coconut water provides both carbs and critical electrolytes like potassium. Studies show potassium is critical to synthesizing proteins for tissue regeneration and metabolic equilibrium after exercise.
Ideal protein intake is an effortless way to ensure post-workout recovery. Protein is essential to muscle growth, so consume 20-30 grams within 30 minutes of completing your workout, training session, practice or game to promote muscle gains and recovery. Whey protein also enhances levels of the antioxidant glutathione in order to deliver maximum amino acids for muscle growth.
Superfood antioxidants like glutathione and wheatgrass are proven to minimize inflammation after workouts and reduce the impact of oxidative stress. Because wheatgrass is high in chlorophyll, it fights the inflammatory effects of lactic acid in torn muscle fibers. Less lactic acids translates into a faster return to peak muscle potential and mobility.
Leading athletes look for competitive advantages every day by maximizing their recovery. They not only reduce their risk of injury, but also heal faster so they can train harder. Balancing performance against recovery is key to optimizing your training and success.
Magnesium regulates metabolism, stabilizes hormones, and facilitates cardiovascular and neuromuscular functions.
Sweating releases magnesium, so athletes must consume adequate amounts pre-workout.
Low levels impair performance by increasing the oxygen necessary to complete exercise. Deficiencies makes training harder, plus predict muscle spasms, aches, and sleep problems.
Magnesium also detoxifies the body by minimizing damage from environmental chemicals. For example, the antioxidant glutathione requires magnesium for production.
Find magnesium in mangosteen, avocados, and leafy greens.
B vitamins complete two different, essential functions in active bodies.
B-complex vitamins like B12 and folate promote protein synthesis, build muscle and repair tissue.
Vitamin B12 is called the “energy vitamin” because you suffer from listlessness and “brain fog” without it.
Thiamin, riboflavin, niacin, pantothenic acid, vitamin B6, and biotin are the other group of B-complex vitamins. These ensure energy production.
Short-term deficiencies aren’t serious, but longstanding shortages will impair performance.
Vitamins B12 and folate are available through most animal-source foods.
The remaining essential B-complex vitamins are found in lentils, beans, and strawberries.
Plants naturally produce antioxidants to protect themselves from the damaging effects of sunlight, drought, soil depletion, and excess rain.
When we eat antioxidant-rich plants, our bodies gain the protections of these powerful phytochemicals to help your body repair faster after exercise. Antioxidants protect our cell walls from oxidative damage caused by free radicals via UV radiation, but also decrease the damages of inflammation incurred during exercise.
Chlorophyll within antioxidant-rich sources also combats inflammation. A naturally alkaline-forming compound, chlorophyll fights against the inflammatory effects of lactic acid and high acid diets.
Yes, plants are painkillers.
This means reducing painful inflammation in joints, ligaments, and tendons. You’ll experience improved flexibility and range of motion from reduced swelling. Lower overall acidity translates into a more efficient training routine with minimal recovery time.
The faster you heal, the faster you gain muscle to achieve peak levels of performance. Good nutrition leads to good recovery.
Protein is essential for muscle growth, weight loss, and hormone production.
Animal protein is great, but carries dietary acidity that inhibits healing and is inconvenient to a fast-paced life.
Whey protein is the answer.
A natural byproduct of cheese, whey contains 20% milk protein.
It delivers amino acids, lactose, minerals and vitamins, plus healthy fats to increase satiety.
Whey enhances glutathione levels, meaning it contributes necessary amino acids for muscle growth – plus antioxidants to reduce bodily stress. Glutathione also maintains blood iron levels for improved physical output.
Unless you’re diligent about reading food labels, you could be eating artificial, synthetic, and unhealthy ingredients without even knowing it. Today we’re going to examine Maltodextrin, what it means for athletes, and it’s potential impact on optimal health and performance.
What is Maltodextrin?
Maltodextrin is a synthetic white powder and a food additive made from corn, rice, wheat, or potatoes.
It’s a processed food product much like corn syrup that’s used as an artificial sweetener. It is approved by the FDA for consumption in small amounts.
Because it’s often used as a cheap thickener or filler, maltodextrin is usually manufactured from genetically modified (GMO) corn. It can be found in a variety of products, such as:
Hair and skincare products
How Does Maltodextrin Affect Health and Performance?
Maltodextrin is a carbohydrate that contains sugar.
It offers 4 calories per gram, as do table sugar and sucrose. The body digests these carbs very quickly, meaning it provides a surge of calories and energy.
Maltodextrin spikes blood sugar and insulin levels, especially when consumed in large quantities.
The glycemic index (GI) of Maltodextrin is between 106-130, which exceeds table sugar. Anyone with diabetes or insulin resistance should avoid Maltodextrin. Instead, opt for more balanced forms of dietary carbohydrates.
The Dietary Guidelines for Americans states that no more than 45-65% of your daily diet should come from carbohydrates. It’s better to consume complex carbs that are high in dietary fiber, such as:
These carbs digest more slowly and won’t spike blood sugar. This provides athletes a sustainable flow of energy without the ups and downs caused by Maltodextrin.
Because it’s a fast-energy carbohydrate, Maltodextrin is found in many sports drinks, supplements, and “healthy” snacks. Weightlifters often use Maltodextrin-containing supplements to gain weight.
Since it’s an artificial sweetener that provides no added nutritional value, the excess blood sugar from Maltodextrin does effectively promote weight gain, although probably not the type of weight you are looking for.
According to Healthline.com, “Another reason to limit maltodextrin is to keep your gut bacteria healthy. According to a 2012 study published in PLoS ONE, maltodextrin can change your gut bacteria composition in a way that makes you more susceptible to disease. It can suppress the growth of probiotics in your digestive system, which are important for immune system function. The same study showed that maltodextrin can increase the growth of bacteria such as E. coli, which is associated with autoimmune disorders like Crohn’s disease.”
That said, performance athletes trying to stay lean should avoid Maltodextrin.
The light blue line illustrates how Maltodextrin unnaturally spikes blood sugar, resulting in an energy crash after just 60 minutes. The dark blue line indicates the blood sugars of athletes who opt for quality food or supplements – steady and balanced for 2 solid hours. The flat line uses pea starch (X1’s primary carb source) as a clean source of sustained carbohydrate energy.
This carbohydrate profile clearly shows that athletes looking to maintain high levels of energy throughout physical activity should steer clear of Maltodextrin.
Like sugar and other simple carbohydrates, maltodextrin can form part of a healthy diet, but it shouldn’t be the main course. On food and supplement labels this means maltodextrin either shouldn’t be there at all or should be near the end of the ingredients list. The higher something is on the Ingredients list the more of it there is in the product you’re eating/drinking. If it’s near the end there is far less of it.
There are healthier and more naturally nutritious sources of energy than Maltodextrin. If you’re looking for a kick of added sweetness before or after exercise, try adding stevia or honey to your diet instead.
Did you know, plants create antioxidants to protect themselves from UV rays, drought, flooding and low-nutrient soil?
Antioxidants guard plants against environmental stress – and by eating plants – we enjoy similar benefits.
So how do antioxidants improve your training and performance?
Antioxidants protect athletes from damaging free radicals created during intense physical activity. Savvy athletes consume antioxidants to reduce the stress from exercise, thus increasing their training and development capacity.
This both prevents bodily damage and accelerates the recovery process, which translates into more training and higher levels of performance than athletes who do not consume adequate amounts of antioxidants.
Continue reading to learn how you can elevate your training with antioxidants.
What Are Antioxidants?
Antioxidants are natural substances that remove damaging, oxidizing agents from the body.
Intense physical activity creates reactive oxygen, which becomes damaging molecules known as free radicals.
Sustained exposure to free radicals contributes to muscle, joint and ligament inflammation in athletes. This inflammation reduces general mobility, athletic performance and impairs healing. At its worst, damage from free radicals includes arthritis and other inflammatory diseases like cancer.
Antioxidants are the body’s best defense against oxidative damage caused by intense exercise.
Consuming dietary polyphenols – aka plant-based antioxidants – is directly linked to countering the damages of oxidative stress created by exercise. Nature’s most effective sources of neutralizing polyphenols include superfoods like pomegranate, mangosteen and goji berries.
How Do Antioxidants Help You Train Harder?
Regular physical activity creates chronic inflammation in athletes’ bodies. Also known as overuse injuries.
Athletes achieving high levels of performance face chronic inflammation from constant physical activity and an increased risk of injury, including ligament and tendon tears (ACL, MCL, etc). Training five days a week with one day of competition allows only baseline levels of recovery.
To restore wellness and physical capacity for each new day, athletes should consume pre-workout and post-workout antioxidants. These supplements clear away oxidative free radicals that impede performance as well as provide necessary protein for muscle gains. Managing chronic, low-grade levels of inflammation and oxidative stress is crucial for athletes focused on capturing a competitive advantage and maximizing development.
High-achieving athletes have long relied upon antioxidant-rich plants as natural painkillers. For example, plants high in chlorophyll – like the superfood wheatgrass – are alkaline instead of acid-forming. They increase the amount of good oxygen in the your blood.
Research confirms that increased vascular oxygen elevates physical endurance while simultaneously minimizing swelling and inflammation in joints, tendons and ligaments. This results in everyday improved mobility. Alkaline and antioxidant-rich plants are also proven to help retain lean muscle mass.
Less bodily inflammation adds up to a more flexible, less stiff or swollen body. Quicker recovery means faster healing, which allows for more and greater training output over time. Ultimately, the healthier your body the more you can train and the more competitive and successful you’ll be.
For athletes who want to train at their best every day, clearing away inflammation-causing free radicals is a must. Eliminating unwanted cell damage, preventing injury and improving performance is a matter of essential daily maintenance.
To prioritize long-term athletic potential and simultaneously reduce everyday aches and pains, help your body recover to its fullest. Supplementing with the right antioxidants after exercise is the surefire way to improve recovery times and guarantee your best training potential.
Consume a post-workout recovery supplement within 30 minutes of ending your workout for best results.
Most vitamins should be consumed with a meal because they’re fat-soluble and require food for absorption.
Vitamin B12 is different. It’s best consumed on an empty stomach and works perfectly within a balanced pre-workout supplement. Pre-workout supplements should be taken 60-90 minutes prior to physical activity to ensure maximal energy.
Vegans and vegetarians are also recommended to supplement with vitamin B12 to sustain high energy.
For optimal health, a balance of minerals should be consumed during each pre-workout meal.
Magnesium and calcium are especially crucial to performance. Energy production requires calcium to interact with enzymes and then convert amino acids into glucose. Calcium requires magnesium to function.
For this reason, it’s perfect for athletes both before and after training.
Research shows glutathione reduces muscle fatigue during exercise and enhances performance capability. It also contributes the amino acids glycine, glutamine and cysteine to optimize protein synthesis and build muscle.
After exercise, its antioxidant properties fight free radicals to reduce oxidative stress on the body. Supplementing glutathione:
Helps repair damaged cells
Accelerates recovery time
Promotes ideal immune functioning for everyday athletic performance
You’ve just learned the most effective ways to supplement with leading nutritional ingredients.
When designing your supplementation schedule, remember these guidelines to achieve your best performance – every time.
Everyone knows growing bodies need balanced nutrition for optimal growth. A blend of carbs, fats, and proteins is required for proper physical and mental development and to reach your greatest potential.
Because of intense physical routines, teenage athletes require enhanced nutrition to hit their targets and compete at their best.
Whether you’re looking to run fast, jump high, lift more or simply outperform the competition – adequate protein intake is a key component of your success.
Today, we’ll explain exactly how much protein teenage athletes need to become bigger, faster and stronger.
How Much Protein is Recommended?
The Recommended Dietary Allowance (RDA) for the average sedentary individual is .36 grams of protein per pound of bodyweight, per day.
This means a typical, non-active man should consume 56 grams of protein per day – 46 grams of protein per day for the average women.
However, teenage athletes are neither typical nor sedentary. They burn more energy and need the proper nutrients to recover from high-intensity exercise.
Five days of practice, plus games, plus additional strength and conditioning training can easily total 15+ hours of physical activity per week. Muscle growth and overall development can only occur if exercise and nutrition are aligned.
As we know, protein is the essential macronutrient for repairing and strengthening muscles.
Hard-working teenage athletes should consume between 0.6 – 0.8 grams of protein per pound of body weight. That’s double the amount of sedentary people.
Peter Lemon, Professor of Exercise Nutrition at the University of Western Ontario provides a studied conclusion:
“For strength athletes, those numbers are even higher – generally between 0.7 and 0.8 grams of protein per pound of body weight.”
For example, a 130-pound tennis athlete without strength training would consume 78 grams (0.6 grams/lb) of protein per day. If you’re a 185-pound football player, you’ll want to consume 148 grams of protein (0.8/lb) to satisfy your strength training regimen. Because power athletes must build muscle rapidly, they require higher levels of protein consumption than endurance athletes.
If you’re achieving excellent pre-workout nutrition, it means your daily protein intake is being spared from energy use and is being used to build and maintain lean body mass. Athletes consuming high amounts of protein alongside fats and carbs free up proteins for use as muscle builders instead of fuel sources.
Insufficient energy stores from carbs and fat leads the body to use muscle tissue for energy. To prevent muscle loss, consume adequate carbs before workouts and games and sufficient protein throughout the day and especially within 30 mins after exercise. Supplement essential amino acids 60-90 minutes prior to workouts and whey protein within 30 minutes following to maximize muscle gains.
Exercise increases the body’s need for protein, especially in teenage athletes with developing bodies that need to perform at high levels. Premium protein is how competitive athletes enhance their rate of building lean muscle mass and perform at their best.
Back to school means A+ nutrition for student athletes.
Summer fun is all about late-night pizza and ice cream, but a new year means new ways of managing performance nutrition.
How can students organize their daily nutrition to promote peak performance?
Here we discuss 4 nutritional strategies that maximize performance in student athletes — on the field, court, and in the classroom.
#1 Consume Smart Carbs
When you begin working out or start a game, the body first looks to carbohydrates (stored as glycogen) for fuel. To ensure optimal energy, student athletes should consume adequate carbs between 3 hours to 30 minutes prior to exercise.
“Smart carbs” are the best way to guarantee early and sustained energy for practice and competition. They arrive via natural complex energy sources, such as fresh fruit and vegetables.
Avoid simple carbs like excess sugar, and skip processed foods. Instead, maximize carbohydrate intake with whole foods. Loaded with fiber, electrolytes, and antioxidants – smart carbs burn more slowly to provide sustainable energy while freeing up protein for building muscle.
#2 Snack on Protein
Protein is mandatory for a number of reasons. Although only 6% of our energy comes from protein (up to 20% for for ultra endurance athletes from muscle wasting) it is an important element for both satiety and muscle building.
Eat high-protein snacks throughout the day. This ensures afternoon training doesn’t feel sluggish and exhausting. Clean protein sources also reduce hunger, eliminating cravings to sustain a healthy diet and help you feel satisfied throughout the day.
Enjoy lean turkey, cheese, nuts, or a whey protein shake to arrive at practice with the energy you need on board to perform at your best, maintain and build muscle.
#3 Hydrate Like a Champion
If your body is an engine, water is the oil it needs to run smoothly.
Studies show hydration levels directly relate to physical performance. If you’re under-hydrated, your core temperature increases. This saps stamina while diminishing reaction time and mobility.
Adequate water consumption differs between men and women. The Institute of Medicine recommends 11 glasses per day for female athletes, 15 glasses for males.
To assist with hydration, carry a water bottle. If you fill and drink it multiple times throughout the day, you should stay hydrated!
Step onto the scale before and after practice. For every pound of weight lost during exercise, drink 16 oz. of clean water afterwards. This will restore your body to optimal functioning.
#4 Refuel Properly
IMPORTANT: Begin refueling within 30 minutes after a workout or game to ensure optimal recovery.
Replenish energy stores by consuming a 3:1 ratio of carbs to proteins post-workout. This will quickly return glycogen levels to full, and supply ready-to-use energy after exercising, as well as support muscle growth.
Protein is crucial to muscle maintenance and muscle building. It repairs fibers and promotes new protein synthesis. For maximum muscle gains, experts recommend 0.6 – 0.8 grams of protein per pound of bodyweight (1.3-1.8 grams per kg).
For example, a 150 lb athlete needs approximately 120 grams of daily protein to see gains. Whey protein supplements are the gold standard in post-workout refueling. They deliver the ideal blend of on-the-go carbs, protein, and superfoods required to maintain muscle, build new muscle, restore energy, and promote wellness. A regular meal should follow your recovery shake within 2 hours to fully restore energy levels and support development.
The best nutritional strategy is grounded in quality food. For athletes on-the-go, a healthy diet can be a challenge – yet is essential to success. To maximize performance, give your body the nutrients it needs, when it needs them.
Being active in competitive sports helps both children and teens develop lifelong healthy habits, teaching them the importance of diligence and hard work, facilitating the development of teamwork skills, and improving self-discipline. However, for the young athlete, staying healthy does require a bit of extra work because of the stress physical activity places on the body. To help your young athlete stay in prime physical condition, check out these seven keys to true health.
Provide sufficient energy to support exercise needs, physical growth, and development. It is important to remember that young athletes are highly active and, therefore, often require more calories than their inactive peers. Depending on your young athlete’s level of physical activity, he or she may need an additional 500 to 1,500 calories per day in order to support his or her exercise needs and still ensure he or she is getting enough energy to support physical growth and development.
Focus on providing healthy snacks. Because young athletes will likely have higher energy needs, they are going to need to eat more. Make sure that your young athlete has three nutritionally balanced meals every day, as well as three or four healthy snacks before and after training. Good snack choices include cheese and crackers, a banana, veggies and dip, and trail mix.
Sufficient fluid intake is crucial. Just like young athletes need sufficient food energy to support their training as well as their physical growth and development, they also need sufficient fluid intake. It’s important to keep in mind that active children are at a greater risk of exercise-induced dehydration than adults are. This is partly because they sweat less than adults and, therefore, are more prone to overheating. But because children often have a less developed sense of thirst than adults, they often need to be prodded to drink. Make sure that your young athlete understands the importance of adequate fluid intake, and encourage him or her to sip water throughout the day and skip the sugary drinks.
Make sure your young athlete is getting enough carbs. Carbs are critical for all athletes, especially young athletes. If your athlete isn’t eating enough carbs, he or she won’t have enough glycogen stores. Without glycogen during physical activity, the body has to use muscle for its energy, which isn’t ideal and could do damage over the long term.
Be aware of common nutritional deficiencies. The most common nutritional deficiencies in young athletes include calcium, vitamin B6, folate, and iron deficiencies. It’s important to understand the signs of these deficiencies and to monitor for them.
Calcium: Adequate calcium intake ensures proper bone growth and sufficient bone mass. If your young athlete isn’t getting enough calcium, it can put him or her at risk for fractures and other bone-related injuries.
Vitamin B6 and folate: Both vitamin B6 and folate are important pieces of energy metabolism and blood health, as well as amino acid metabolism. Deficiencies can cause fatigue, muscle soreness, and even a loss of cognitive function in a young athlete.
Iron: Iron is important for young athletes’ oxygen carrying capacity, and it allows the body to effectively metabolize carbohydrates, protein, and fats. A young athlete who is iron deficient will likely suffer from fatigue and could have a compromised immune system and impaired cognitive function.
If you are concerned that your young athlete may have some kind of nutritional deficiency, you might want to consider adding a supplement specifically designed for young athletes and their nutritional needs.
Ensure your student athlete is sleeping well. In order to ensure peak performance, wellness, and healthy growth and development, your young athlete needs to get the right amount of sleep. Teenagers, especially active teenagers, may need up to 10 hours per night.
Focus on psychological health, as well as physical health. Remember, health isn’t just physical. It’s also psychological. Therefore, it’s important to create a healthy psychological environment for your young athlete. Help them develop healthy attitudes about achievement and teach him or her how to cope with setbacks when they occur. A psychologically healthy athlete should be able to effectively cope with stress, deal with setbacks, and overcome challenges without losing his or her cool.
The bottom line is that your young athlete needs to stay healthy in order to ensure proper growth and development and maximize athletic performance. That means eating a healthy diet, getting enough sleep, watching for nutritional deficiencies, and focusing on psychological as well as physical health.
This is a super easy and very minimal clean up (yayy!!!) dinner recipe. And, bonus I found the sweet potato “noodles” already spiralized at Market Street. I’ve heard they also sell them at Target, so be on the look out at your local store!
Sprinkle seasoning of your liking on chicken. Suggestions: salt, pepper, garlic powder, onion powder, paprika, cumin, oregano.
Throw some coconut oil in the skillet (medium heat) and brown chicken on both sides.
While chicken is cooking, saute your noodles in another skillet. I used ghee (clarified butter) and sesame oil and salt and pepper.
4.Chop broccoli and mix in a bowl with your choice of oil: coconut, avocado, sesame or EVOO. Sprinkle your favorite seasoning on broccoli and pop it in the oven to roast on 375 for 15-20 min.
5. I like to finish my chicken off in the oven with the broccoli while the noodles are cooking.