Nutritional contributions for optimal recovery

Recovery is the hour of repair; nutrition during this phase should not be neglected, as well as that of the preparation or effort phases. The objective of food in the recovery phase is to rehydrate, eliminate waste, compensate for deficits in minerals, trace elements and vitamins, generated by perspiration and metabolism.
This article explains first of all, and in general terms, physical effort and its repercussions on the body. The needs in minerals, vitamins and macronutrients at the end of the effort, the order of ingestion as well as some interesting foods are then presented; to finish a little point on hydration in the recovery phase.
So, to summarize, we can say that recovery begins at the end of the effort. The first 4-6 hours are the most important. During these post-exercise hours, there is a strong demand from the muscle for glucose and amino acids, induced by glycogen losses and muscle breakdown.

Immediate recovery snack:

During the first 2 hours, the priority is to eliminate waste and rehydration. It is not recommended to take food (meals) during the following hour (it is necessary to wait for the reperfusion of the digestive tract) in order to avoid intestinal disorders. On the other hand, it is important to consume about ½ liter of a drink rich in carbonate ions to restore acid-base homeostasis (See ATLET's organic energy drink). Then the consumption of a banana and dried fruits is recommended; these foods are alkalizing.

Remote recovery meal: within 2 to 4 hours:

  • We will privilege the contribution of proteins of good value (eggs and / or fish, we will reserve the meat for the next day); this allows tissue regeneration.
  • The consumption of a dairy product allows protein resynthesis and, above all, is a source of tryptophan, a resting neurotransmitter.
    Consume potatoes for their alkalizing power, rather than rice or pasta. This will facilitate the return to acid-base homeostasis.
  • In order to remineralize the body, we will also favor vegetables and fruits, raw or cooked.
  • Do not forget to decorate the dishes with one to two teaspoons of brewer's yeast and / or wheat germ. This makes it possible to provide zinc, copper and selenium, co-factors of anti-oxidant enzymes.
  • Allowing yourself a dessert is a great idea because the sugar ingested at that time contributes to the repletion of glycogen in the muscles and the liver.
  • Favor the variety, the diversity of foods in this meal (15 to 60 different), this greatly facilitates recovery (provision of a wider range of vitamins, minerals and trace elements).
  • Despite the joy of the finish and its performance, limit consumption to a maximum of 2 glasses of wine. Indeed, alcohol maintains urinary losses and tissue acidity.

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PHYSICAL EFFORT:

WHO defines physical effort as "any movement produced by skeletal muscles responsible for increased energy expenditure".
Oxygen requirements increase due to muscular work; the same goes for cardiac output and ventilation. In fact, two mechanisms of effort make it possible to meet the increased oxygen needs of the muscles:

  • Increased blood flow to muscles (thanks to increased cardiac output and selective distribution - from less active areas to more active areas);
  • The increase in the extraction of oxygen from the blood by the muscle.

Depending on the type of effort, the body will request different energy production channels (ATP). These will occur in different proportions with a predominance of one or the other. One of the goals of sports training is to develop the faculties of transport and use of these different sources of energy.

The aerobic energy sector is the one that is primarily used during an endurance effort. Within seconds, breathing and heart rate speed up to deliver more O2 (oxygen) to exercising muscles. This is used to oxidize glucose in muscle, blood or liver to carbon dioxide (CO2). There is thus release of water and a maximum of energy (38 ATP).
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However, there are factors limiting this oxygen supply:

Pulmonary factors: with the maximum amount of O2 that the lungs can contain as well as the rate of oxygen binding to hemoglobin.
Circulatory factors: with improvement of local irrigation and variations in blood flow.
Tissue factors: with the maximum capacity of the muscle cell to use oxygen.

PHYSICAL EFFORT AND EFFECTS ON THE BODY:

The respiratory system:

When the intensity of physical exertion increases, so does O2 consumption, with the value of work. This is measured in terms of the volume of air consumed over a defined period of time: VO2.
The more intense the effort, the higher the VO2. However, VO2 can only increase up to a maximum value (VO2 max) which depends on the age, sex, training of the individual and the sport practiced. VO2 max indicates in fact, the capacity of an individual to perform a physical effort of endurance. When this limit is crossed, then the body uses other resources that do not require oxygen (anaerobic, lactic or alactic pathways).
During the effort the gas exchanges are modified. Muscles have an increased need for O2, and thus release more CO2. The respiratory rate (RF = number of respiratory cycles per minute) increases, as does the tidal volume (VC = Volume of air taken with each inspiration). Thus the respiratory rate, which is the product of FR and VC, also increases.

When the effort stops, the O2 consumption decreases and gradually returns to its initial value after a so-called recovery time.

The cardiovascular system:

The heart rate increases even before activity begins, due to nerve stimulation and the production of certain hormones such as adrenaline. On exertion, the increased heart rate increases blood flow to the muscles. This allows for an increased supply of O2 and nutrients. This increases the power of each cardiac contraction (the flow can be multiplied by 6).
The long-term adaptation of the heart will only concern high-level athletes who, thanks to regular practice, will develop the heart muscle. The same goes for the other muscles which, thanks to regular exercise, will be enriched in capillaries and therefore benefit from better blood supply.

At the end of the exercise, the heart rate will decrease in 2 stages; first quickly then more slowly until returning to the rest value.

Adaptation of vessels:

Just like the heart, the vessels, by adapting, contribute to the improvement of sports performance. At the onset of physical exertion, nutrient and O2 requirements are increased. Thus the arterioles and capillaries dilate and concomitantly, the vessels of the organs at rest will contract, leading to a reduction in blood flow in “non-priority areas”. The skin, in turn, adapts by regulating body temperature through sweating and therefore by dilation of its arterioles.
The blood also adapts to the effort; hemoglobin will double its capacity to release the oxygen it carries (from 1/3 to 2/3).

Thus, thanks to all these adaptations, the volume of oxygen available to the muscles during exercise will be multiplied by 60 vs. the volume at rest.

Energy expenditure:

Each cell in the body consumes a certain amount of nutrients (products of digestion) for cellular respiration. These nutrients are brought in by the blood. Energy expenditure varies depending on the basal metabolism, thermoregulation, the specific dynamic action of food and physical activity.
During physical effort, it is especially the consumption of glucose by the cells that increases. Cellular respiration allows, via an oxidation reaction of glucose molecules, the production of energy (ATP).

Faced with the effort, the body can have several reactions with more or less visible repercussions, more or less late.

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RECOVERY PHASE NUTRITION:

Recovery is the sum of all the actions taken so that the body can regenerate completely after undergoing physical and mental stress. It is the time necessary, after a performance, for the organism to regain a state compatible with the reproduction of an equal performance.
The more intense and / or prolonged the effort, the more time and precautions it will take to recover; the more the individual is trained, the faster he will recover. Recovery also helps to limit muscle stiffness; it is essential for preventing fatigue, exhaustion, overwork and injuries.

The adequacy of food intake for energy expenditure is a key factor in nutritional recovery. The recovery phase should make it possible to compensate for the losses resulting from the physical effort provided during training or competition by adapting the diet to these periods before, during and after the effort.
Here is a summary of the basics, but for more details I refer you to previous articles about vitamins and minerals



An unbalanced diet leads to a deficiency in vitamins that can increase the risk of injury, especially B and C which participate in the supply of energy, which are anti-stress and fight against fatigue. Nutrition is essential because, apart from vitamins D and K, the human body is unable to synthesize vitamins.

The ESSENTIAL vitamins for the athlete are:



All foods are good and to be consumed in a varied manner, over the seasons, in reasonable quantities. They all bring particular benefits due to their nutritional richness. None is to be excluded but some are however to be privileged in the sportsman.

  • Orange: Its high vitamin C content promotes energy storage in glycogen. For minerals, calcium dominates. The daily consumption of an orange ensures the vitamin C needs of the athlete.
  • The banana : fruit very rich in potassium and magnesium which helps to limit the appearance of cramps, aches and fatigue in athletes. Magnesium plays a role in adapting to stress. It is one of the most energetic fruits and thus participates in the restoration of energy stocks (carbohydrates) during the recovery snack. Bananas are a source of vitamins B and E which help to strengthen the antioxidant potential in the recovery phase of the effort.
  • The kiwi : Very rich in vitamin C. It is the reference fruit for breakfast. In post-effort ration, the kiwi contributes to anti-radical defenses and recovery. Just like an orange, one kiwi per day covers the daily requirement for vitamin C. Vitamin E, normally present in fatty foods, is surprisingly found in kiwi fruit. It is therefore an antioxidant food. For mineral intake, potassium dominates. The advantage of Kiwi: it has an enzyme, Actinidin, which facilitates the digestion of animal proteins and their assimilation.
  • The grape : thanks to its high water and potassium content, it has a diuretic action favorable to the elimination of waste, subject to correct hydration. It is indicated in the recovery ration by its high content in easily assimilated sugar, its antioxidant and alkalizing power.

Concerning macronutrients (carbohydrates, proteins, lipids), they come from our food and provide energy to our body to ensure vital functions.

Carbohydrates :

they are the most important energy suppliers of our food. The food intake of CHO and its precise “timing” in a recovery phase very largely orient the quality of glycogen resynthesis. These strategies are of great importance in demanding situations such as triathlon or marathon, but also during repeated competitive exercises, such as swimming, middle distance races, throughout the day. The earlier the consumption of carbohydrates after stopping exercise, the greater the amount of resynthesized muscle glycogen. Thus, when a quantity of CHO is ingested as soon as the exercise is stopped, the quantity of muscle glycogen measured in the muscle 6 hours later is greater than when the CHO intake is postponed 2 hours after the end of the exercise. exercise.
In addition, it has been shown that carbohydrates should be chosen as a priority in post-exercise recovery menus. Thanks to their high Glycemic Index (GI), they provide rapid energy for synthesis in recovery (Louise M. Burke, Bente Kiens And John L. Ivy, Carbohydrates and fat for training and recovery, Journal of Sports Sciences, 2004, 22, 15–30). The first studies looking at the quantities of carbohydrates consumed during the recovery phase date back more than thirty years. The authors reported that consuming 150 to 600 g of CHO per day induced greater repletion of glycogen stocks over a 24-hour period. A few years later, it was shown that the intake of 1,5 g of CHO per kilogram of body weight, during a period of 2 hours following an exhausting exercise, induced a correct rate of glycogen resynthesis, a rate which does not is not improved when the quantity of CHO is doubled (i.e. 110 g of CHO per hour for a subject of 75 kg) (JL Ivy et Al., Muscle glycogen synthesis after exercise: Effect of time of carbohydrate ingestion, Journal of Applied Physiology May 1988).
For immediate recovery after exercise (from 0 to 4 hours), it is advisable to consume around 00 g / Kg / h of carbohydrates (carbohydrates or CHO) at frequent intervals (Roy Jentjens and Asker E. Jeukendrup, Determinants of Post- Exercise Glycogen Synthesis During Short-Term Recovery, Sports Med 1; 2003 (33): 2-117).

The proteins :

During physical exercise, the muscle undergoes important changes in the metabolism of structural proteins which must be corrected from the early recovery phase. Prolonged physical exercise is indeed likely to induce muscle micro-lesions which will require, during the recovery phase, to initiate repair processes, which involve increasing the flow of protein synthesis.
Numerous studies, such as John L. Ivy et al. Early postexercise muscle glycogen recovery is enhanced with a carbohydrate-protein supplement, J Appl Physiol 93: 1337–1344, 2002, looked at the role of proteins in the recovery phase and all the results underscore the importance of early protein replenishment (at the end of the exercise!). On the other hand, the results do not favor a supply of insulinogenic amino acids to stimulate the storage of muscle glycogen after exercise.
It is possible to favor the ingestion of modest amounts of branched amino acids (mainly leucine - 0,1 g / Kg / h -) associated with carbohydrates (0,3 g / Kg / h) and other proteins (0,2 g / Kg / h), which will further stimulate protein synthesis after exercise and therefore recovery.
The composition of the food intake plays an important role in controlling the release of growth hormone. This stimulation, observed one hour after ingestion of dietary protein, promotes anabolism (synthesis) of contractile proteins and skeletal muscle structure. However, there is a cap on protein syntheses; the amino acids of food proteins consumed in excess are oxidized and not stored (that is to say above 1,5 g / Kg / h).

Lipids :

Post-energy lipid compensation is not necessary for an athlete with a balanced diet. As long as the exercise is of moderate intensity (± 40% of the V̇O2max) and lasting more than one hour, the majority of authors estimate that the use of triglyceride reserves is around 20-50% of the reserves. active muscles (Cf. Biochemistry of Physical and Sporting Activities, Jacques R.Poortmans and Nathalie Boisseau, Éditions de Boeck, 2009). The use of free fatty acids takes place approximately equally between active muscles and adipocytes. Therefore, the human body has sufficient available lipid stores and the depletion of muscle triglycerides remains limited, compared to that of phospho-creatine (PC) and glycogen.

Recovery begins at the end of the effort. The first 4-6 hours are the most important. During these post-exercise hours, there is a strong demand from the muscle for glucose and amino acids, induced by glycogen losses and muscle breakdown.

Immediate recovery snack:

During the first 2 hours, the priority is to eliminate waste and rehydration. It is not recommended to take food (meals) during the following hour (it is necessary to wait for the reperfusion of the digestive tract) in order to avoid intestinal disorders. On the other hand, it is important to consume about ½ liter of a drink rich in carbonate ions to restore acid-base homeostasis (See ATLET's organic energy drink). Then the consumption of a banana and dried fruits is recommended; these foods are alkalizing.

Remote recovery meal: within 2 to 4 hours:

  • We will privilege the contribution of proteins of good value (eggs and / or fish, we will reserve the meat for the next day); this allows tissue regeneration.
  • The consumption of a dairy product allows protein resynthesis and, above all, is a source of tryptophan, a resting neurotransmitter.
  • Consume potatoes for their alkalizing power, rather than rice or pasta. This will facilitate the return to acid-base homeostasis.
  • In order to remineralize the body, we will also favor vegetables and fruits, raw or cooked.
  • Do not forget to decorate the dishes with one to two teaspoons of brewer's yeast and / or wheat germ. This makes it possible to provide zinc, copper and selenium, co-factors of anti-oxidant enzymes.
  • Allowing yourself a dessert is a great idea because the sugar ingested at that time contributes to the repletion of glycogen in the muscles and the liver.
  • Favor the variety, the diversity of foods in this meal (15 to 60 different), this greatly facilitates recovery (provision of a wider range of vitamins, minerals and trace elements).
  • Despite the joy of the finish and its performance, limit consumption to a maximum of 2 glasses of wine. Indeed, alcohol maintains urinary losses and tissue acidity.

The objective of food in the recovery phase is to rehydrate, eliminate waste, compensate for deficits in minerals, trace elements and vitamins, generated by perspiration and metabolism. The following days, it is essential to rebalance your intestinal flora (via fermented foods: yogurts, sauerkraut cabbage, pickles ...) in order to fight against oxidative stress and free radical damage, to neutralize tissue acidity and to repair muscle tissue .

Post-exercise hydration:

The drink is important at each stage of the athlete's life, both in its choice and in its quantity. After exercise, the goal is to speed up recovery and compensate for water, carbohydrate and micronutrient losses. Thus, hydration should not be done simply with pure water. Electrolyte losses via perspiration must also be replaced at the same time as the water losses.

  • The recovery drink must contain sodium and potassium, such as Arvie water, Rozanna or Vichy St Yorre.
  • The compound volume must be greater than the volume lost through perspiration by around 150% (you must therefore drink a volume of water equivalent to 1,5 times the weight loss during exercise).
  • Ingestion of carbohydrate solution helps restore exercise capacity more effectively; water is then the vector of this contribution.

Article Caroline JOUCLA • State-certified nutritionist-dietitian • www.carolinejoucladieteticienne.com

Source: Article published on the website of our partner ATLET

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