Recovery nutrition; reasons and options

In the past I have written about the importance of post workout nutrition and this article is meant to remind you of that protein/carbohydrate combo for optimal recovery. It’s true that consuming carbohydrate during or after your workout will aid in replenishment of the glycogen used by your muscles during a workout. It is also true that protein is essential in aiding the recovery and building of muscle tissue post workout, but what about the need for these two nutrients throughout the rest of the day and where does fat fit into all of this?

Well, everyone does require some fat in their diet in order to aid in optimal metabolic function and proper cell maintenance. It is recommended that for the average active adult 20-35% of your total daily caloric intake come from fat. For example, if a someone were to consume a 1500 calorie/day diet, 300-525 calories or 33-58 grams should come from fat. Consuming mostly unsaturated fat in the diet will yield the best results in terms of decreased risk for disease. Some healthy options include olives/olive oil, avocado, nuts and some fish. When combine with some of the higher glycemic foods fat actually helps to slow the uptake of sugars and regulates that insulin response. The same holds true for combining protein with high glycemic foods. Protein plays several roles in the body above and beyond muscle maintenance and repair and it is recommended that the average active adult consume .8grams of protein per kilogram of body weight. That means that a 120lb woman (55kg) must consume 44 grams of protein per day to meet the requirement.

As for carbohydrate, the average active adult should shoot for approximately 60% of their total daily calories in the form of carbohydrate. So, let’s go back to that 1500 calorie/day example to see that 900 calories should come from carbohydrate. It is recommended that the majority of the calories from carbohydrate come from complex, whole grain sources, which provide more vitamins, minerals  and fiber than their simple carb counterparts. The idea is getting the proper balance of nutrients each day to support optimal body function. Lean protein, complex carbs and low saturated fat options will yield the best overall results. Below are some ideas for healthy snacks and meals that provide a great balance of the 3 macronutrients…

  • Steel cut oats w/ cinnamon, raisins and a touch of brown sugar or honey
  • Banana sliced in half length wise with natural peanut/almond butter
  • Greek yogurt(plain, low fat) w/ 1/3 cup grape nuts & fresh berries
  • Cooked Quinoa (a complete protein) tossed w/ balsamic vinagrette, grilled chicken, grape tomatoes, fresh basil and fresh mozzarella
  • Whole grain bread w/ lite mayo, dijon, lettuce, tomato, avocado, sprouts & cheddar cheese
  • Brown rice tossed with a sesame soy dressing, chicken, snap peas, steamed carrots & mung beans (add water chestnuts for some crunch)
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