IN our #EqualDifferent campaign Totum Sport highlight the different Performance and Recovery needs for sportswomen.
Our Head Nutritionist Marie Farag and our leading athletes - including Roisin Upton and Amanda Lightfoot – will explain the differences in the female bodies.
One of the most important aspects for any serious sportswoman is Recovery and how it affects performance.
Firstly we need to understand what recovery is. Recovery is the reparation of muscle and tissue, the removal of waste products and the reduction of inflammation.
It is also restoring your body with hydration and nutrition to function, the way it should.
There are some simple good habits that can aid recovery, for all females who take part in sport.
This Equal-Different campaign will hopefully shed light on female needs when being active.
1. Have a well-balanced diet
Not only does your food intake provide fuel for your training but it’s essential in aiding recovery for repairing and building your muscles.
Exercise causes the breakdown of muscle, it is, therefore, essential to consume protein after a workout, from either plant sources or animal products. This helps rebuild muscle fibres and promotes the development of new muscle tissue.
Protein should also be combined with a source of carbohydrates, after exercise to enhance recovery.
During exercise, glycogen levels in the body deplete which can cause fatigue, thus it is important to replenish glycogen stores quickly to speed up the recovery process.
Carbohydrates restore the glycogen stores that you use up during exercise.
How much carbohydrates should you eat?
This will vary however generally, for women 0.5 - 0.7 grams of carbs per pound of body weight within 30 minutes of training is adequate.
A well-balanced diet containing a variety of lean protein sources such as fish, chicken, eggs and legumes and a little red meat and a mixture of carbohydrates including rice, potatoes and vegetables should be consumed to aid nutritional intake and recovery form exercise. Fats such as olive oil, nuts, avocados, butter and coconut oil are recommended for cooking and flavour.
Sleep has a significant impact on muscle recovery and repair.
Everybody is recommended to get a sufficient amount of sleep to face the day ahead. There are many benefits of good sleep, which can help you with your food choices and your training.
During the first few hours of deep sleep growth hormone is released into the body by the pituitary gland helping your muscles grow and recover.
On average 7-10 hours’ of sleep per night is recommended.
Research shows that being sleep deprived decreases the production of glycogen and carbohydrates that are stored for energy use during physical activity.
This means less sleep not only results in poor recovery but also increases the risk of fatigue, low energy, and poor focus during exercise.
Sleep quality can always be improved by creating more favourable environments:
Cut back on screen time; 60 - 90 minutes of "screenless" time before bed is important to reduce blue light that can decrease the production of the sleep hormone, melatonin.
Set yourself a sleep schedule. Go to bed and wake up at the same time each day. This helps to regulate your body clock and can help you fall asleep easier and stay asleep throughout the night.
Use blackout curtains.
Having a cooler temperature in the bedroom can also encourage restful sleep.
Little things can make big things happen, getting sufficient sleep is the right place to start.
As our muscles are made up of approximately 75% water, hydration is a key factor for recovery.
Nutrition and sleep are needed to optimise recovery, but hydration before, during and after exercise is vital as your body constantly loses fluid.
It is commonly recommended that 8 glasses, 2 litres, or half a gallon, should be consumed every day, this is called the 8×8 rule.
But individual females requirements can vary.
Water, coffee, tea, juice, soup, and sports drinks contribute to fluid intake and hydration. Water is also absorbed from foods, such as fruit and vegetables that have high water content.
If you are well hydrated you should be producing urine every couple of hours. The easiest way to monitor your hydration is to look at your urine. A clear to pale yellow colour suggests your hydration is good, but a dark yellow colour is a sign of dehydration.
According to H.H. Mitchell, Journal of Biological Chemistry 158, the brain and heart are composed of 73% water, and the lungs are about 83% water.
When you are dehydrated you are affecting the most important organs in your body, so always ensure that you stay hydrated with sufficient fluid and electrolyte intake.
Stretching should be an integral part of any females athletes’ diary.
After training our muscles often become tight and stiff, stretching helps to reduce this and allows for more blood flow through the muscle, aiding recovery.
The two main types of stretching are dynamic and static, both of which are important.
Stretching helps to:
- Improve Muscle Development
- Increase Range of Motion
- Reduce Injury
- Warms You Up
- Improve Posture
Dynamic stretching should be done prior and after a training session, while static stretching should be done during the recovery period.
Using foam rollers can also be used for moving on lactic build up and helping with mobility in the affected muscles.
Implementing these good habits will set you on the right track to recovering to the best of your ability.
When you have your nutrition, sleep, and hydration in order you’re in a great position, but if you’re heavily active you might supplementing should be considered to aid in recovery.
Supplementation will be further discussed throughout the Equal-Different campaign.
Make recovery a priority every day.