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Recovery is a critical part of being active and achieving athletic goals. To get faster and stronger, we push ourselves to new limits again and again. But before we can take it to the next level, it’s essential to recover.
Recovery makes improved performance possible. It allows time for the body to heal itself in preparation for the next training load and it decreases the risk of injury. When we think about sports nutrition, recovery nutrition is the most crucial aspect.
The short and long-term goals of recovery nutrition are to appropriately refuel and rehydrate the body, promote muscle repair and growth, boost adaptation from the training session, and support immune function. Implementing these goals daily and consistently helps the athlete’s performance and well-being in the long run and encourages longevity of the athlete’s career.
When recovery is ignored or implemented incorrectly or inconsistently, there can be negative consequences. Athletes who don’t let themselves recover can feel increased fatigue (during training and at work or school) and/or increased muscle soreness. They can experience suboptimal gains from the completed training session and set themselves up for reduced performance at the next training session, game, or event. Potentially worse, athletes who don’t recover can suffer from inadequate immune function (increasing the risk of illness or infection).
A misconception about recovery that hinders athletes’ health and performance is that water is the best beverage for rehydration. Depending on the level of exertion and other factors like heat and humidity, sports drinks that include electrolytes may be required to keep the body functioning. Quality sports drinks contain carbohydrates and sodium to help with absorption.
A common mistake athletes make when recovering is reducing calorie consumption. Counting calories can be counterproductive to proper refueling. Athletes require a lot of energy and nutrients, so restrictive diet plans can be harmful to health, performance, and potential. Without appropriate calories from carbs, fat, and protein, athletes may lose strength, energy, and the ability to perform at a high level.
Athletes can benefit from added calories and remembering that—nutrition trends and diet fads aside—carbs are good! Protein is praised for its role in recovery, but carbs should be too. Fixating on protein alone means athletes can miss opportunities to replenish energy stores, fluids, and electrolytes.
The best way to see success with recovery nutrition and hydration is to be consistent. Especially as we head into winter months with shorter days and colder temperatures, it’s important to stay hydrated. Cold weather and dehydration often go hand in hand. It’s difficult to drink enough when you don’t feel thirsty, but being less thirsty doesn’t mean you’re better hydrated. Don’t rely on thirst to tell you when to drink. Make a point to drink a certain amount of fluid each day.
A tip for staying properly hydrated is to think about your workouts in three stages: Prepare, Perform, and Recover. This mindset can help you refuel with a purpose. To maintain hydration levels and incorporate active nutrition recovery into your daily life, plant our convenient Rapid Hydration stick packs everywhere you go. Put them in your gym bag, backpack, car console, and desk drawer. Carry stick packs in your purse or pocket to easily pour one into a glass when eating out. Our caffeinated option can even replace your afternoon cup of coffee for a quick pick-me-up!
Shop our Rapid Hydration Variety Pack today
This content is provided by Jamie Meeks, Registered Dietitian, Board Certified Specialist in Sports Dietetics, and Sports Dietitian for Professional Athletes.