by Charles Weller April 21, 2013
When it comes to post-workout recovery, ensuring that your body gets the proper nutrition is essential. It is worth considering the numerous advantages to consuming a balanced plant-based diet versus a more traditional American “meat and dairy” type of diet. One of the primary advantages is that plant-based foods are alkaline forming whereas meat and dairy (including whey protein) is acidic. The acid-forming properties of meat and dairy can result in inflammation impairing the body’s ability to recover from exercise or stress. Whey protein is high in sulphur-based amino acids which leads to increased acidity and lowered pH of the blood. This is one of the reasons why whey protein drinks may not be the smartest solution when it comes to post-workout recovery nutrition.
Inflammation is triggered mainly by the oxidative stress placed on muscle tissue during working out. Although inflammation is a common part of recovery, chronic buildup of inflammation affects optimal recovery, and this in turn hinders a physiological adaptation to training increasing the risk for overuse injuries or illness. Recent research has shown that post-training meals are of critical importance in the response of the recovery, as they can significantly improve the healing process.
Ideally, post-workout nutrition should include all the nutrients your body needs to heal and recover from exercise-induced stress. Plant-based diets contain a good source of anti-inflammatory nutrients which not only contribute to the healing of sports injuries, but the same sources of food are also perfect for post-workout recovery – specifically muscle tissue, muscle glycogen and joint recovery. Faster recoveries and overall fitness improvements can be accomplished by managing post-exercise inflammation and optimal recovery nutrition.
Anti-inflammatory nutrients from plant-based foods include phytonutrients, antioxidants, and essential fatty acids (omega 3’s) which may help speed the recovery process. Researchers traditionally have attributed the health-promoting effects of plant foods to their comprehensive array of vitamins, minerals, and fiber. More recently, however, research studies are showing that phytonutrients, or phytochemicals, are nutrients found in plants that may provide health benefits.
Plant-based foods are packed full of phytonutrients and antioxidants which promote a healthy immune system, may slow down aging, and help to detoxify and alkalize the body. The anti-inflammatory nature of phytonutrients makes them perfect as a tool for post-workout recovery. There are numerous classes of phytonutrients, which in turn contain hundreds of different phytonutrients within. It is estimated that upwards of 900 phytonutrients have been identified as components of food. Some of the more well-known phytonutrients are isoflavones, lignans, carotenoids and flavonoids. Fruits and vegetables contain phytonutrients and antioxidants which makes them great additions to your post-workout recovery nutrition. For complete antioxidant protection, you should regularly consume a diet rich in plant foods.
Among the fatty acids, it is the omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFAs) which possess the most immunomodulatory activities. There have been a number of clinical trials assessing the significant benefits of dietary supplementation with omega-3’s for inflammation. Fish sources are one way to get Omega-3’s, but they can also be found in nuts such as pecans, almonds, pistachios and walnuts. Hemp seed and sacha inchi are plant-based proteins that are also high in essential fatty acids including Omega-3’s. To pack the biggest punch, choose a plant-based protein source high in Omega-3’s for your post-workout nutrition.
In addition to improving post-workout recovery, a plant-based diet that includes plenty of vegetables, fruits or nuts may allow for a healthier gastrointestinal state in the exercising athlete. These types of foods are easily digested and absorbed, and as a result, they consume less energy to produce more energy. This is why many athletes who switch to a plant-based diet feel an immediate surge in energy. From a longevity standpoint, consuming a plant-based diet alkalizes the body which helps you live a longer more disease-free life by dissolving acid wastes and minimizing inflammation in the body.
Ground-Based Nutrition never uses artificial sweeteners, colors, dye, additives, or other synthetic chemicals. Superfood Protein Smoothie is vegan friendly, gluten free, soy free, and dairy free.