The Author climbing in Utah
By LoRayne Haye M.S.C.N.
As a nutrition professional and prior competitive athlete, one of the most common questions I’m asked is ‘what’s the best supplement to take for reducing muscle soreness after exercise?’ Often times the people asking are the ones whose cupboards and refrigerator are empty of food, and filled with a myriad of supplement pills. Don't get me wrong, the latter have their place, but were never intended to take the place of food, as they’ve been designed to release energy from food, not provide it. The following are best bets for optimal muscle recovery.
Protein: Much has been debated regarding proteins role in exercise. However, the research supports the reality; that optimal amounts of quality protein are needed for adults who engage in regular exercise. Certainly, the more strenuous the activity the more protein your body requires. According to Bill Campbell lead author of “The International Society of Sports Nutrition’s Position Stand: Protein and Exercise,”
“Protein intakes of 1.4 – 2.0 g/kg/day for physically active individuals is not only safe, but may improve the training adaptations to exercise.”
Optimal Protein Sources
However, Campbell did make it clear that protein needs to be part of a nutrient dense meal plan, and not consumed ‘in solo.’ Quality protein sources are fish (deep cold water), grass fed beef (lean), pasture fed lean chicken and turkey, as well as legumes and beans, and pasture fed organic dairy products, such as Geek yogurt.
Plant Based and Ocean Going Protein Sources
There's also much to be said about ocean going sources of protein for example Spirulina and Chlorella can both be added into smoothies and juices. Additionally, their Omega-3 profiles are an added bonus for those who imbibe. Beginning doses should hover around 1 tsp.
Long Distance Carbs
Grains like Quinoa and Buckwheat ( which is not wheat it's actually a flower), both of which have solid protein profiles, and can be incorporated into meals for a well rounded approach to consuming and bolstering overall protein. Other grains to consider are Teff, Spelt, and Kamut.
Branch Chain Amino Acids
However, one of the unique features that sets high quality Whey protein apart are the Branch Chain Amino Acids (BCAA). This trio of Isoleucine, Leucine, Valine, are significant in helping to reduce muscle fatigue and soreness, as well as Central Fatigue. Best bets: Bio-Chem Lactose Free Cross Micro-filtered Whey Protein Powder
Although maligned for decades, the role high quality fat plays in muscle recovery, and energy production should not be under-estimated. Once carbs are depleted, the body will draw on fat as an energy source, if there's enough fat coming into the system to draw on. If not, bonking or 'hitting the wall' will be inevitable. Forcing many to drop out of their event.
A Word For Endurance Athletes On Fat
For endurance athletes such as runners, and those who are training for marathons, and the Iron Man Races, fat is a 'Golden Food.' Yet, most of the research has focused on studying athletes who use Low Carbohydrate High Fat (LCHF) meals, which the lead study authors have concluded dont work. My response to that is Duh. My point being is athletes need both high quality fats, AND high quality nutrient dense long distance carbs.
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