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Exercise & Athletic Recovery: A Three-Part Plan for Optimal Nutrition

There are three critical parts to every exercise recovery plan - refuel, rebuild and rehydrate. Incorporating these into your workout plan will enable better ongoing performance whether you are a serious athlete, a weekend warrior or you exercise regularly.

Part Two: Rebuild

In the process of performing an athletic event (whether it be endurance running, cycling, weight training, football, hockey, basketball, or sprinting), muscle tissue is exposed to potential damage. Catabolic hormones (ie. adrenaline and cortisol) remain high after exercise and continue to break down muscle tissue. Catabolism means to break down. Without proper intake of protein, this catabolic condition can continue for hours, resulting in increased muscle soreness and poor subsequent performance.

In order to rebuild muscle, athletes must take in high amounts of protein throughout the day, and especially immediately after exercise. Protein drives the body to rebuild and repair damaged muscle tissue, and stimulates whole body protein synthesis. The amount of protein required varies depending on the type of exercise, and how long it is performed, but generally 20 to 40 grams of protein should be consumed. Studies have shown that whey protein is a good post-workout protein because it contains a strong amino acid complex, and can rapidly release them into the bloodstream.

Creatine is also involved in building muscle and providing fuel for muscle contraction. Clinical studies have shown that adding creatine to the diet can increase muscle mass in individuals performing weight resistance training.

In the cycle to produce ATP, both creatine and magnesium play important roles. Studies have shown that magnesium creatine chelate (available from Albion as Creatine MagnaPower®) is more effective compared to creatine monohydrate given with magnesium oxide. A clinical study concluded that positive changes in peak torque of quadriceps were found to be significant only in the group receiving magnesium creatine chelate. This group had greater increases in intracellular water. An increase in intracellular hydration is associated with increased muscle growth. (Brilla,LR, et al, Metabolism, vol.52, No.9 2003, pp1136-1140). Phosphorous is also important for ATP formation.

Other minerals are also involved in rebuilding muscle. Magnesium and zinc can both have a positive impact on testosterone production, which contributes to muscle growth.