The other macronutrient critical to an athlete’s injury recovery is carbohydrates. If you’ve begun your rehab process from an injury, carbohydrate ingestion shortly after prolonged and/or exhaustive exercise is critical. Carbs help replenish muscle glycogen stores, provide energy to refuel muscles for the next exercise bout, and help to repair those same muscles.
Carbohydrates are also important to preventing injuries. Consuming carbohydrates before and during prolonged periods of exercise help to maintain blood glucose during exercise, reduce stress hormones, and reduce the risk of injury.
If you are training heavy, you’ll want to consume an adequate amount of carbohydrates each day. This will help diminish immune inflammatory responses. And your post-workout target should be an intake of 1 to 1.2 g/kg of body weight within the first 30 minutes after exercise. Foods rich in carbohydrates include peas, potatoes, yams, whole grains (such as brown rice or quinoa), and food made with whole grains like bread, cereal, rice, and pasta.
Now let’s bring protein and carbs together to create real recovery magic. Try to combine your carbohydrates and protein during and after exercise. The benefits of this can include:
- Decreased fatigue
- Decreased delayed-onset muscle soreness (DOMS)
- Reduced muscle breakdown
- Optimization of muscle damage repair
Your suggested intake ratio is 3 to 4 g of carbohydrate to 1 g of protein, with as little as 6 to 20 total grams of protein.
With a whole food approach (and following doctor’s orders), you can significantly decrease your recovery time. The body’s healing process will quicken if you eat the right foods (and proportions) rich in proteins and healthy carbs.
We have a saying at Carbon Athletics; “Eat to Compete.” We may need to change it to “Eat to Recover.”