So I know everyone who read my last post rushed out and set up a workout routine (or at least thought about it). One of the most important factors when working out is an often misunderstood one….recovery.
Recovery is extremely important when exercising because that is when the body actually changes. Your body will go through EPOC ( excess post-exercise oxygen consumption). This is the replacement of ATP and muscle glycogen (fuel) used during your workout. Your oxygen levels and body temperature will restore and muscle tissue will be repaired. Exercise that uses more oxygen burns more calories! So think HIIT training or high intensity strength training, not running on the treadmill for hours and hours. EPOC is actually influenced by the intensity, not the duration of the workout.
If you strength train a muscle/muscle group, research has shown you need 48-72 hours before you train those muscles again. Age, intensity, experience, diet, stress and rest are all factors that work with or against your recovery period. Pay attention to your body during your training. Are you super tired all the time? Are you not sleeping at night? These are signs of over-training. Are you not gaining muscle or strength? You may need longer rest days between workouts or you may not be eating enough. Some people are influenced by the “more-is-better” belief. I’ve witnessed people injured, tired and sick dragging themselves to the gym because they truly believe if they miss a workout their routine will completely fall apart along with their body….seriously….I’m all for dedication, but if you are walking around like a grumpy zombie it’s no longer beneficial.
Sleep is very important for every fitness goal. Whether you’re trying to lose weight, run a marathon or gain some mass muscle, sleep is required. I’m not talking about a good 5 hours either. You ideally need 8-9 hours! A study in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition showed that people ate an average of nearly 300 fewer calories per day when they were well rested. A solid night of sleep may provide extra willpower to resist those cookies or chips. David M. Rapoport, MD, the director of the Sleep Medicine Program at NYU Langone Medical Center, has discovered a part of the brain that controls sleep also plays a role in appetite and metabolism. Rapoport says “when you skimp on your ZZZs, your body makes more ghrelin and less leptin. Ghrelin is a hunger hormone, and leptin is a hormone that tells you when you’re full”.
Last major topic for recovery is food. Your goals and how you feel are really going to dictate what you should be eating. Nutrition can be overwhelming and confusing with mass marketing and misinformation but there are ways to make things easier. First, eat real food. Real food does not have an ingredient label. Real food grows, walks or swims…..real food also doesn’t require pesticides or hormones. If you are putting time and effort into being fit please don’t ruin it with chemical additives. If there’s a bug in your lettuce think of it as a protein bonus! Second, pay attention to how you feel. If you are starving every morning you may have a hormone imbalance or be eating way too many carbs throughout the day. Last, you do not need workout supplements. Yes I’ve said it…..If you are working out to be fit and healthy and living a pretty normal life then you do not need a supply of mass marketed kidney killers. Real food will do everything you need it to without all the side effects.
So remember, breathe deep, sleep long and eat great.