Recovery nutrition encompasses a range of physiological processes that include:
- Replacing the muscle and liver glycogen (carbohydrate) stores;
- Replacing fluids and electrolytes lost in sweat;
- Manufacturing new muscle protein a d cellular components that are part of the repair and adaptation to exercise;
- Enabling the immune system to face the challenges caused by exercise.
Almonds for Sport
Almonds provide a wide range nutrients that help to keep the body healthy for sports and performance. A single handful per day will help meet your needs. Almonds provide protein, as well as monounsaturated fats, including the antioxidant vitamin E. They also include other important vitamins and minerals such as potassium, magnesium, iron, calcium, phosphorus and vitamin B2.
During the immediate post exercise window (0-30 minutes), athletes should consume a meal consisting of both carbohydrate and protein in a 4-5:1 ratio. This is important as the rate of glycogen synthesis is at its greatest. This is of even greater importance if the next training session or competition in within the 8 hours.
If the session is close to the next meal time this would be a part of the recovery process. Another meal following a similar ratio between carbohydrate and protein should be consumed. The type of food chosen would need to take into consideration the individual athletes daily caloric requirements, gastric comfort and food availability.
A fluid deficit incurred during training or competition has the potential to negatively impact on an athlete’s performance in future training or competition sessions.
To combat this, athletes should aim to consume 125-150% of their estimated fluid losses within the next 4-6 hours after a session. The addition of sodium, along with other electrolytes to a drink or with the post workout meal will reduce further fluid loss, therefore enhancing fluid balance and overall recovery.
Muscle Repair and Building
Both high intensity and endurance exercise cause a substantial breakdown of muscle protein. During the recovery phase there is decreased catabolism and a gradual increase in the anabolic processes of muscle tissue. Early intake of protein during the first hour after exercise promotes the increase of protein synthesis.
The quantity of protein needed to maximise this adaptation to physical activity is 15-25g of high quality protein. With the addition of carbohydrate to this meal, you will aid the body ability to transport the proteins into the muscles.
The immune system is taxed by intensive physical activity. This may lead to athletes succumbing to viral infections during or after periods of intense training or competition.
Evidence indicates that the most promising nutritional immune protectors include adequate carbohydrate intake before, during and after high intensity or endurance exercise. Other nutrients that have been identified as immune protectors include Vitamins A, C, D, E, along with glutamine and zinc.
Including Almonds as part of Recovery
Here are some ways that you can use almonds to help you meet the goals of recovery:
- Salted almonds and fluids enhancing hydration;
- As part of a snack providing a source of protein to enhance muscle repair and building;
- As a source of Vitamin E for the immune system.
Here are some examples of almonds being used in recovery meals
- Yoghurt with berries and chopped almonds or LSA mix;
- Diced coconut, almonds, dates and apple.
- Chicken and almond stir fry with root vegetables;
- Lean meat, salad and a handful of almonds.
- Chicken salad sprinkled with roasted almonds;
- Red chicken, vegetable and almond curry with white rice (or cauliflower rice).
- Almond bar;
- Trail mix with dry roasted and salted almonds;
- Yoghurt with chopped almonds.