When it comes to speeding recovery, not all techniques are as effective as you may think. While some strategies may lead to slight improvements in recovery, there are others that are proven to be extremely effective in getting you back to 100%, faster.
The way the human body recovers is a pretty simple process. Blood delivers essential nutrients and supplies to damaged tissue, the lymphatic system gets rid of waste, myokines are produced and released, and the repaired tissue is then remodeled. What most people don’t realize, is that the key facilitator driving each of these stages is muscle activation. Along with muscle activation, there are a few other key elements that will get you on the road to faster muscle recovery.
How to Recover Muscles Faster
Water is crucial for our body’s systems to function properly. After all, nearly 60% of our bodies are comprised of water! For those who work out, it’s even more important to ensure proper hydration to keep the body running as efficiently as possible. When our bodies are adequately hydrated, our muscles can work at their highest level, both while working out and while recovering.
Proper hydration is so important for ensuring essential supplies are delivered to damaged tissue. Blood is responsible for transporting all these necessary nutrients and is made up of about 80% water.
To begin the repair process, blood delivers essential supplies to damaged tissue. Since nearly 80% of our blood is comprised of water, dehydration makes this process less efficient. Proper hydration is vital for allowing fluids to move efficiently throughout the body. Water also helps remove toxins that build up during exercise. If that’s not enough, it’s been shown that dehydrated muscles delay the rebuilding phase and can cause damaged tissue to break down even further. So, before you do anything else related to recovery, make sure you’re hydrated.
After a workout, it’s important to replenish your depleted energy stores. While being properly hydrated will allow essential nutrients to be delivered to damaged tissue, those nutrients need to be readily available for transport. Replenishing with protein and carbohydrates after a workout is key for ensuring your muscles have the nutrients they need for repair.
Our bodies get energy from the food we eat. Eating high quality and nutrient dense foods will help our bodies function more efficiently. What we put in, we get out. You can’t expect high quality results from eating low quality foods. Consuming enough protein is key, since protein is the building block of our body.
3. Active Recovery
Once adequately hydrated and nourished, active recovery techniques can then work their magic. Active recovery includes light activity to get muscles activated. There is a fine line between active recovery and further muscle damage, so make sure to always keep the muscle activation low stress. As mentioned earlier, this muscle activation will facilitate each stage of the recovery process. Normal movement throughout your day can help as well, but by incorporating active recovery techniques, you’ll be able to accelerate the process. The amazing thing about active recovery is that it addresses each part of the process, which is why it’s such an effective recovery method.
Going for a light job or swim is one way to do active recovery. Another is using Marc Pro, which creates non-fatiguing muscle activation using proprietary technology. Marc Pro is the only device that creates non-fatiguing contractions and unlike traditional active recovery techniques, you don’t have to worry about putting too much stress on muscle tissues. The result is a full and fast recovery that you can use to target specific or more general areas of the body.
Many of the body’s restorative functions take place while asleep. During the NREM sleep stage, blood flow increases and tissue growth and repair takes place. It’s also during sleep when human growth hormones are produced. In fact, a sleep article on Bodybuilding.com says, “In men, 60-70% of daily human growth hormone secretion occurs during early sleep, which is typically when the deepest sleep cycles occur. Poor quality sleep can negatively impact human growth hormone levels.”
Most adults need 7-9 hours of sleep a night. Make sure you’re logging enough hours each night so you can get the maximum benefit for your body and mind.
If you’re properly hydrated and nourished before going to bed, the muscle rebuilding process will be more effective. The same is true for active recovery. These factors are all important components of faster muscle recovery. If you lag on one, the whole process will be slowed down. For the fastest muscle recovery possible, make sure you concentrate on each of these factors.
What About Other Methods?
You may be wondering why other popular recovery methods aren’t listed here. What about foam rollers, compression devices, or percussion therapy? These have their place, but when you dig in, you’ll see that when it comes to rebuilding muscle tissue, they aren’t very useful. Of course, if a certain technique feels good to you, by all means use it. But just make sure you’re first taking the necessary measures for muscle recovery.
The intent of foam rollers is to break down myofascial tissue. While this can have its benefits for mobility or range of motion, breaking down tissue is the opposite of recovery. In the recovery process, muscle tissue is rebuilt.
Similar to a massage that puts external pressure on the skin, some waste can be pushed out of muscles. However, the lymphatic system is passive and the more effective method to push out waste is by activating the lymphatic system (through muscle activation). Plus, the other stages of recovery aren’t addressed with compression. Some people may think there’s an increase in blood flow, but it turns out that’s not the case. Creating pressure on the muscle and then releasing that pressure will create an initial surge in blood flow, but there’s no net gain in blood flow. Muscle activation is the better tactic for vasodilation.
These are similar to foam rollers and compression devices. They can help break down tight tissues, which may slightly improve blood flow, and the external pressure can help evacuate some waste. But, with no muscle activation taking place, they won’t do much to accelerate the healing process.
To learn more about how the muscle recovery process works, check out this page.
Nutrition can be the fuel or downfall of your progress. The thought in many people’s head is that they can eat whatever they want after a workout. But, there are certain foods that will propel your progress and other foods that will come between you and your goals. Here are the 5 best and the 5 worst foods for muscle recovery.
Best Foods for Muscle Recovery
Below are the best foods to assist in post workout muscle recovery. The key is to make sure you have a combination of protein, healthy fats, and quality carbs for the best results.
- Eggs: Protein has one of the biggest effects on muscle repair. This nutrient helps rebuild damaged muscle fibers so muscles can grow stronger and be ready to go for the next workout. Eggs are a great choice for muscle recovery because of their high protein content. Their yolks also contain healthy fats, vitamins, and minerals that support muscle growth.
- Sweet Potatoes: Workouts can deplete glycogen stores so it’s important to consume carbs afterwards to rebuild those stores. Sweet potatoes are a quality carb that are full of potassium. They also provide nutrients that help boost immunity post workout. Other quality carbs include oatmeal and fruit.
- Salmon: Not only is salmon one of the best foods for muscle recovery because of its high protein content, but its Omega 3 fats and potassium also make it a top pick. Studies have shown that Omega 3 fats can increase muscle protein synthesis and reduce inflammation in the body. Salmon’s high levels of potassium help to replace electrolytes that are lost during your workout.
- Blueberries: Fruit is a fast-acting carb that is able to quickly replace diminished glycogen levels and create an insulin spike. Blueberries are full of antioxidants which will help prevent free radical damage in your body.
- Spinach: Heavy sweating and dehydration causes a decrease in your body’s electrolytes. Spinach is rich in potassium and magnesium, which are key electrolytes that the body needs to recover. Keeping your potassium levels at a healthy level will help to prevent muscle cramps.
Worst Foods for Muscle Recovery
After a workout, the goal is to repair damaged muscle, rebuild energy stores, and reduce the amount of fat your body stores. The foods below have the opposite effect and should be avoided.
- Fast food: Fast food tends to be high in calories, fat, and sodium and deficient in essential recovery nutrients. This can cancel out gains made during your workouts and slow down your digestion.
- Donuts: These breakfast treats seriously lack key nutrients needed for muscle recovery. They have no protein and are high in refined sugar and carbs. The fat they do have is not the beneficial kind you would get from eggs or nuts.
- Sugary Drinks: Drinking too much sugar after a workout will actually decrease your metabolism. While some sugar after a workout will help quickly restore your energy levels, you don’t want to consume too much. Anything that your body doesn’t use will turn into fat. Be sure to limit refined sugar and instead consume unrefined sugar from sources like fruit.
- Salty Snacks: Even though we lose electrolytes while working out, minerals like potassium and magnesium are the more important electrolytes the body needs to recover. Sodium lowers potassium levels and we tend to get enough salt already in the American diet.
- Alcohol: Having one drink may not seem like a big deal, but drinking right after a workout will dehydrate you and reduce protein synthesis. Plus, alcohol is full of empty calories that can sabotage your progress.
Muscle recovery is a key component of working out. If your body isn’t able to repair itself from workout damage it will start to break down and your chance of injury increases. Performance is another factor that’s negatively affected. You won’t be able to give your best or feel very good when your body isn’t able to recover. Using active recovery techniques, like the Marc Pro, are proven to be the most effective technique to get your body back to homeostasis. Nutrition is an important piece of the puzzle, but most people who train regularly need additional recovery strategies as well.
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Gut health is something that is often overlooked. Since our gut is the starting point for many processes within the body, it’s something that more people should focus on to improve overall health and well-being. When our gut isn’t functioning properly, systems throughout the entire body can be thrown off.
The gut is where all of our nutrients are absorbed into the bloodstream and delivered to our cells. When there is an issue with our gut, our bodies aren’t able to obtain all the nutrients it requires to operate correctly. Beyond that, an unhealthy gut causes lower levels of serotonin and dopamine, which is responsible for making us happy.
Signs of an Unhealthy Gut
How do you know if you have gut issues? Some common signs of an unhealthy gut are bloating, cramping, and distention after eating. But, there are also some uncommon signs of an underlying gut issue. For example, an unhealthy gut can also affect your mood, skin, immune system, and can even cause bizarre nightmares or vivid dreams, so you may not realize your issues are even stemming from the gut.
How to Heal Your Gut
1. Slow Down
Many of us operate in a sympathetic (stressed) state. When we eat, we’re often thinking about other things going on in our lives and don’t really think about the food that is in front of us. The problem with this scenario is that our body then doesn’t produce the enzymes and natural HCL that properly breaks food down before it gets to the small intestine. Emily’s biggest tip for people is to slow down. It’s important to remind yourself that you’re trying to break this food down properly so your body can put it to good use.
2. Incorporate Key Nutrients
Bloating and distention is often a result of intestinal permeability. This means that the lining of our small intestine starts to pull apart, allowing particles to pass through that aren’t supposed to. Emily’s three favorite nutrients to help bring the intestine back to its ideal state are glutamine, marshmallow root, and slippery elm.
While probiotics can help balance bacteria in the gut and provide many benefits, Emily stresses that they won’t do any good unless they have a good home. It’s important to make sure you don’t have any form of leaky gut or intestinal permeability before probiotics are introduced.
Emily Schromm has experienced firsthand and through her clients the benefits of a healthy gut. Spending more time on improving your gut’s health may be just what your body needs to feel better and function more efficiently.
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How important is nutrition to you? Figuring the foundation of life is built upon the concept of nutrition, it should be a priority for all of us. Nutrition is about more than your dietary preferences. There are multiple factors that add up to overall nutrition and health. Brian MacKenzie, of Power Speed Endurance and XPT Life, shares some insight and tips for improving nutrition and body performance by focusing on two key components of nutrition, hydration and food.
Importance of Hydration
A key aspect of nutrition that many people don’t talk about is hydration. In reality, hydration should sit at the forefront of any nutrition program. Without hydration, we would last about 3 days. Without food, we would last roughly 30 days; that alone shows just how vital hydration is to life. Try starting your day off with a 20-30oz glass of water. Brian adds Himalayan pink salt, fresh-squeezed lemon juice, and 3CARB to his for added benefit. When focusing on hydration, it’s important to find carbohydrates that slowly and steadily shuttle water into cells and keep it there for intracellular hydration, which is why Brian chooses to add 3CARB. Not all carbohydrates work the same, some carbs like sugar shuttle water in and out very rapidly which adds no benefit for intracellular hydration.
Put it to the test. Brian suggests implementing this hydration routine for some time and then stopping for a few days. Notice how your body feels when you are not hydrating properly.
Real Food Sources
No matter what your dietary preferences are – vegan, vegetarian, Paleo, or gluten-free – it’s important to make sure you’re getting your food from real sources and not consuming processed foods. One of the biggest culprits is sugar. If sugar is a part of your daily diet- whether you are an athlete or not- you aren’t understanding nutrition entirely. Not only does sugar have no essential nutrients but it also leads to obesity and diseases like cancer and diabetes. It’s important to make sure we not only take into account what we are eating but also whether the food source is real or processed.
Beyond choosing real food sources, what a person should eat depends on the individual. Everyone’s body processes food differently. Some thrive on red meat, some on fowl, and others on fish. It’s a good idea to be aware of what you put in and see how your body responds to different foods in order to get an understanding of what works best for you. Your gut will tell you a lot about your health.
Are you a Glucose or Fat Dominant Athlete?
In other terms, which fuel source are you burning more efficiently, glucose or fat? Which category an athlete falls into is influenced by diet and food source. For example, you can consume glucose in the form of fresh fruit or processed sugar, and you can consume fats from healthy sources like almonds or from sources like fried food. Both options fall into the same category of either glucose or fat but where the food is coming from has a big impact on how the body responds. If your body doesn’t know how to break down fat, you will become a more glucose dominant athlete which means your body will break down lean tissue a lot quicker. The goal is to get our bodies in a place where we burn fat all day long.
A good way to become a fat dominant athlete and kick-start your body’s fat burning process is through gluconeogenesis. Gluconeogenesis occurs when the body needs energy but the glucose stores that the body usually turns to have been depleted. In order to produce energy the body needs to function, it will turn to other non-carbohydrate sources for fuel such as fat and protein. Fasting is one way to achieve gluconeogenesis and allow the body to break down fat as a fuel source in an efficient manner.
One of the biggest questions is, how often should I be eating? The answer is simple, when you’re hungry. If you’re always hungry and you don’t live a very active lifestyle where you move constantly throughout the day, there’s a good chance you are eating a lot of high glycemic carbohydrates. These types of carbohydrates process quickly, empty out, and send the message to your brain of “I need to eat again”. Make sure you are ingesting the right kinds of food that don’t cause this sort of response in your body to occur. After that is taken into account and you are eating wholesome foods, paying attention to your own hunger cycle is paramount. Some people eat less frequent, bigger meals and some people work much better with frequent, smaller meals. Since everyone’s body operates differently, try out a few different options and see which one allows your body to function at the highest level.
Spring is here! Flowers are blooming, birds are chirping and the days are finally starting to gain a touch of warmth in the air. When spring arrives, most people start thinking about the best ways to de-clutter and clean the house, but how often do you think about doing a “spring cleaning” for your diet?
If you feel you’ve reached a plateau and aren’t seeing results in your strength gains, performance or even physique, now is a good time take inventory of what you are eating, how often you are consuming high-quality foods, and learn about new ways to incorporate seasonal fruits and vegetables that can really amp up your diet. Not only can this spring-cleaning give you more energy, but it can also work to fuel your workouts better, so that you can perform at your best and continue to improve.
The team at Marc Pro challenges you to kick-off a “spring clean” of your diet with the following tips that help you analyze your nutrition:
Create a Food Log
You may be surprised by what you eat, or what you don’t eat during a typical day. Are you taking in all of your necessary fruits and vegetables on a daily basis? How often are you snacking after a hard workout? Writing down what you eat everyday for a week can give you insight into areas of your diet that may need improvement.
Analyze Your Drinking
How much water are you drinking each day? Are you drinking more sugary drinks than you are water? Taking the time to evaluate the fluids you consume can be beneficial to ensure that you really are fueling your body right.
Make Farmers’ Markets Part of Your Routine
Check out when your local farmers’ market takes place, and make it a plan to try at least one new item per week that you can incorporate it into a new recipe. Be it purple carrots or blood oranges, farmers’ markets usually sell fresh produce that’s in season (which is typically very different from what is sold at grocery stores). For example, spring is the time to stock up on collard greens, limes, mango, pineapple, snow peas, sorrel, strawberries, white asparagus, and much more. Looking for some great spring recipes? Try a spring vegetable quinoa salad for some zesty flavors.
Pack for the Week
After stocking up on some new foods at your local farmers’ market, it is time to prep some healthy meals and snacks that can be consumed during the week. While this step takes a bit of planning and time, it can save you a tremendous amount of time during the week, and allow you to eat healthier without even thinking about it. Cut up fresh fruit and vegetables and place in sealed containers for easy snacking during the week. Prepare a hearty soup on Sundays that can be eaten for dinner meals throughout the week. Believe us, your ‘Monday Self’ will thank you for the ‘Sunday Prep.’
If you have questions about your own diet and the areas that could use improvement, then take the time to schedule an appointment with a dietician or nutritionist. These professionals can guide you through the best ways to incorporate certain foods in your diet, and give suggestions on the best ways to fuel for your personal goals. You can find a registered dietician nutritionist through this link: http://www.eatright.org/find-an-expert
What is your favorite spring recipe? Tweet the Marc Pro team about what you like to eat during spring.
Great nutrition is vital whether you are a casual fitness enthusiast or a professional athlete. With the right nutrition you will feel better, have more energy, and can improve your physical health. Here are six rules of great nutrition to keep in mind to ensure your body is in the best possible shape.
Control your calories
Your caloric intake will have a big impact on your fitness goals, whether you are looking to gain muscle or lose fat. If you are interested in losing weight, you will need to consume fewer calories than you take in, and vice versa if you want to gain muscle.
Remember your protein
Protein is one of the most important nutrients for the human body. It’s a building block of skin, cartilage, and muscle fibers. Every type of athlete should be taking in enough protein, from runners and cyclists to basketball players and golfers. In response to the huge popularity of protein among today’s athletes and fitness enthusiasts, many different protein bars and shakes have been developed by nutrition companies and are readily available.
Use nutrition wisely before strenuous events
Whether you have a big sporting event, a long-distance running event or simply an intense practice session coming up, it’s important that you prepare your body with the right foods and drinks. Carbohydrates, for example, provide fuel for the body and the nervous system. It’s wise to ensure that you get enough carbohydrates before intense exercise or competition.
Hydration is critical
Getting enough water in the body is very important. Hydration is one of the most critical rules of great nutrition. It prevents fatigue, cramps, and helps your body regulate its temperature. Remember to drink a sufficient amount of water before and after exercising or competing in an event, especially if you are doing so outdoors.
Keep your nutrition habits flexible
A lot of athletes and casual fitness enthusiasts will put themselves on an eating plan, where they try to eat a meal at the same time every day. While this can be a good routine that makes it easy to diet properly, most people know that life isn’t always routine. If your plans must change, try to adapt your diet to the interruption. If you can’t, you can always make up for it another time.
Nutrition must be paired with the right tools
Remember that while nutrition is important, it’s also crucial that you get a handle on other elements of your fitness and health. If you are an athlete, you will most likely need to pair your rules for nutrition with a weightlifting regimen so that you can get stronger. You also need to be certain that you have the right recovery tools so that you don’t lose too much time resting after training or competition.
With a proper nutrition plan, a commitment to training and the right recovery tools, it will be much easier to reach your fitness or athletic goals.