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We’re all athletes. Some of us hit the gym for consistent cardio and some of us alternate with strenuous push-pull splits. Your intent may be to maintain overall health and wellness, set a PR, or accomplish a lifelong goal. In any case, if you’ve incorporated activity into your lifestyle, then you’ve already committed to recovery, too. Yep, you’re already recovering.
But recovery seems slippery, right? Preparing for an activity and performing an activity are tangible and visible: we tape an ankle, stretch our hamstrings, visualize an offensive attack, meditate for mindset, and then start moving, breathing, and sweating. But what does recovery look like and when do we do it? We asked Anthony J. Zamora, a Registered Dietician and sports performance nutrition expert, to clarify all the information out there and help us make sense of nutrition for recovery.
Tips Practiced by Professional NBA Players
According to Anthony, “our athletic population is always in a state of recovery.” When you think about the physical and psychological demands related to practice, weight training, competition, and performance, the nutrients we consume are always being tasked to rebuild and repair. “We’re continuously recovering.”
Protein is essential for the recovery process, so it’s beneficial to eat it throughout the day. “There’s never a bad time to consume protein,” Anthony says. “Your nutrition will help you repair and recover regardless of whether you hit that highly marketed ‘30-minute anabolic window’ for post-workout protein.” Anthony’s philosophy is based on knowledge, experience, and a holistic and personalized approach to helping athletes feel good and achieve.
As a general guideline, consuming 0.5-0.8 grams of protein per pound of body weight for active adults and athletes meets daily requirements. “I think a gram per pound of lean mass is also a good starting place,” Anthony agrees. “But what does that really look like?”
Protein studies show that people who consume more protein tend to be leaner when compared to equal calorie diets featuring more fat and/or carbohydrate. But it’s important to remember that there are different building blocks or amino acid profiles from dairy, plant, and animal proteins. “I have a place for very specific timing and grams,” Anthony explains, “but it’s closer to the top of the pyramid. Adequate calories and proportionate macronutrients are at the bottom.”
The top of Anthony’s pyramid refers to professional athletes and other outliers who have the time, discipline, resources, and perceived need to “rinse the cottage cheese” or go above and beyond. When we think about a balanced diet with nutrient density and diversity in consumption, however, it’s hard to say there’s such a thing as too much protein. For most of us in today’s society, what’s most important is establishing a routine and following up with consistency.
It’s easy to get caught up in trending buzzwords that create false hope or cure-alls that offer one-size-fits-all solutions. “Let’s step away from scare tactics,” Anthony advises. “Don’t feel bad about missing the anabolic window. Find a balanced routine and stick with it. Your fueling opportunities should have macronutrients including protein, but make sure they work for your lifestyle and make you feel good, too.”
The Importance of Good Hydration
When we talk about protein consumption, we also need to highlight the importance of hydration for nutrient delivery. “When you’re not hydrated, your blood is sluggish. Hydration keeps your body functioning and running smoothly. You can’t hydrate like you’re cramming for an exam.” You have to hydrate regularly every day for the magic of protein to really kick in.
The growing science of sports nutrition reminds us that fueling our bodies is challenging. Staying nourished and using nutrients wisely is a full-time job. “Hard work isn’t sexy,” Anthony makes clear. “It’s hard. So how hard do you want to work? If you choose to look for a quick, easy answer without taking any accountability, you’re not going to see optimization.”
The evolution of technology and a smartphone, clickbait culture has created a universal sense of urgency and immediacy. Anthony, on the other hand, wants us to stay holistic, balanced, aware, and reflective. He doesn’t want us to obsess over the precise number of grams or the exact time to consume them. The next best trend is not necessarily your next best move.
Stay focused on how your body feels and performs. Remain consistent but not rigid when you’re inconvenienced by travel or work or when you’re relaxing and enjoying the off-season. Prepare, Perform, and Recover: they’re all lifestyles, so live them fully.
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Meet Anthony J. Zamora, RD
Sports Performance Nutrition Expert, Registered Dietitian, Director of Performance Nutrition and Executive Chef for Pro Athletes
Anthony Zamora is one of the leading performance nutrition chefs and sports dietitians in the country. He has spent several years working with athletes in the NFL and NBA. Anthony embraces the attitude that he is a student of life and works daily to be his best self physically, mentally, and spiritually.
Anthony grew up in East Tennessee, attended the University of Tennessee, and graduated with a nutrition degree. He earned a chef certificate from Boston University and completed his dietetic internship with Wellness Workdays to become a registered dietitian. Through study, practice, and apprenticeships outside of the classroom, Anthony continues to refine and develop his culinary style and approach to sports dietetics and counseling.
Anthony exudes enthusiasm and positive energy that welcomes and empowers everyone. He is committed to leadership and helping others grow. Whether he is working one-on-one with an athlete or helping students unlock their potential, he is all in on servant leadership. Anthony is thrilled for the opportunity to contribute to The Honey Stinger Hive as a performance expert and looks forward to elevating and growing with our community. You can learn more and join The Hive today by heading here.