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Mar 15, 2011 10:48 AM

Exercise, nutrition, recovery, etc [split from Home Cooking]

(Note: This thread was split from: -- The Chowhound Team)

All of this lively debate, and we haven't even gotten into the benefits of Branched Chain Amino Acids to help muscle recovery post exercise! Think about the discussion that would stir!

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  1. Ha, ha. I've had a moderator remove my posts. Too funny... this one will probably go to, but before it does, let me say I wasn't attacking anyone here.

    Now, lilgi, you must understand the key is the pace you were running those LSDs at. While our body is aerobic, we have enough fat stores to last us a LONG time during exercise. Heck, even the skinniest of Kenyan marathoners have a week's worth. When we go anaerobic, however, even the fittest of the fit (think Lance Armstrong types here) only have, at max, 90 minutes of glycogen stores. That is why during longer events it is so necessary to fuel during exercise. Now, once you start entering the realm of 2-3 hours +, then in addition to carbohydrates you also need to refuel with protein as well. Our bodies will necessarily start to cannabolize lean muscle tissue after around the 2-3 hour period.

    This is because, as stated earlier, endurance exercise is a losing proposition... we cannot REPLACE what we burn. We can only hope to replenish some of it. Put it this way: During a race I can easily push myself into burning upwards of 800-900 cal/hour, but my body can only process in about 200-300 cal/hour. That leaves us negative 600/hour. It is unavoidable. Have you ever finished a hard workout and had your sweat smell of ammonia? That is your body burning protein for fuel. The ammonia is a byproduct of that.

    29 Replies
    1. re: salvatoregianpaolo

      Salvatore, my kids routine was written out and this thread was edited because of your posts. I remember asking you about protein shakes because one of my boys wants to lift. That got edited out as well, and I am no longer looking for your advice. I will post our routine again:

      carbs about 30 minutes before: rice, pasta, cereal/oats

      water: during

      water and milk: after

      eggs, (forgot tuna before), cheese, fruit, peanut butter sandwiches, trail mix, yogurt: after

      3 square meals a day

      You don't want to know how long I've been running.

      1. re: lilgi

        Sorry... I thought you had asked me something about that, but I wasn't able to locate it again. As I mentioned, I have no expertise in the area of weightlifting, so I won't even venture to offer any info in that regard. And, again, sorry... I can assure you I wasn't attacking you or your posts.

        As far as what you list, a couple of quick points. First, I'm a believer for endurance athletics your last meal pre-exercise should be around 3 hours prior to beginning. This allows your stomach to clear and will avoid possible GI problems. You will have plenty of energy to get going, and then once you start, you begin your fueling protocol as well. I understand it is somewhat easier to fuel on the bike vs. running, but I've run marathons using this method with great results as well.

        Second, solely relying on water is fine for events up to 2 hours or so, but any longer than that and you really should fuel during. After, milk does have carbs and protein, but I do like to hit the mark closer to a 3:1 or 4:1 ratio, although I've seen evidence lately suggesting even a 1:1 ratio can be effective.

        Once an hour or so has passed after your immediate recovery, you are right on the mark for protein sources. I think eggs are a fantastic source of protein (the gold standard, actually) so I can't argue with them, and truthfully, I love cheese, nut-butters, fruit, yogurt, and tuna all for a nice lean protein meal. Just don't neglect the carbs! Depending on individual goals, most endurance athletes "in-season" shoot for a diet consisting of around 60-70% carb. I stick closer to the 60% end of the spectrum, with a 20%/20% protein/fat split.

        I've been running and cycling quite a long time as well, but I'm amazed at how much I learn all the time. As I said earlier, I wish I had some of this knowledge before. Just makes it easier!

        1. re: salvatoregianpaolo

          Nobody here neglects carbs Salvatore. And my posts had more to do with the dairy council than anything else...and sugar. I will not get into another discussion about that because I'm always looking at the bigger picture. We do milk and water.

          The 3 hour time before-hand, how sure are you about that? I think info regarding that varies, I've heard and read conflicting info on it.

          1. re: lilgi

            sorry to interject; i'm no expert on the subject, but our long-distance coaches used to tell us not to eat or drink anything but clear liquids for 1-2 hours before a meet. this had nothing to do with energy, only to do with preventing cramping or vomiting during running. i needed more like 3 hours to feel totally "empty" and not cramp up after a meal if i would be running more than a few miles. probably just depends on the person, as some of our runners would snack up to half an hour before and be fine.

            as for the muscle building--i have a friend who was a competitive body builder and actually won a world title about ten years ago. he was giving me tips on gaining weight (i'm a very petite woman and wasn't looking to get "ripped" obviously, but oh well). he said he eats lots of lean protein (fish, eggs, chicken in some combination for every meal of the day), 4-6 bananas a day along with loads of fresh fruits and veggies, and always supplements snack and workout times with protein shakes. i ignored his advice and settled on eating belgian waffles with syrup and whipped cream constantly instead and gained 10 pounds. i'm still puny, but hey.

            1. re: nothingswrong

              Ah, not talking about full meals. Was referring to fueling with some carbs before hand (I used to do it about 30 minutes before running). And they're always drinking water even within a half hour before rigorous exercise.

              I'm lil myself, anyway DS was asking about the shakes but he's pretty good about eating the foods you mentioned.

            2. re: lilgi

              Understood. Last point about milk: my issues with with the Dairy Council stem from their ridiculous assault on raw milk. Instead of defending small farms and those people dedicated to producing a quality product, they side with the massive giants of the industry. I thought I was lactose intolerant for a long time until switching to raw milk early this year. Problem solved! In fact, I've seen improvement in my digestive system. Once again I'm a fan of milk... just not after it's been pasteurized.

              I strongly support the 3 hour window, and have used it successfully for a few years. If you've fueled properly leading up to the event, or on a daily basis, for that matter, when you wake up your glycogen stores are still quite full. I take in around 240cal 3 hours before, almost exclusively carbs, and then I'm done until the gun goes off. This allows my digestive system to clear itself.

              What happens during strenuous exercise is our bodies divert energy from the un-important systems, i.e. digestion, and concentrate on heart/lungs/brain. That is why GI distress occurs. If you are exercising at an easy pace, you could realistically eat whatever you want and your body will continue to digest it. When your body starts really going, however, if you were to eat solid food it ends up sitting in your stomach where it basically "rots" and produces gas. Obviously this leads to cramps and bloating. That is why gels and liquid fuels are so effective. They are easily processed, allowing your body to get the energy it needs.

              Of course, you HAVE to fuel during extended exercise using this type of protocol. Yo

              1. re: salvatoregianpaolo

                Salvatore, I've googled several articles that are not contradictory to our food practices 30 minutes to 1 hour pre-workout (except for some pasta which we'd do occasionally and certainly not in large amounts). As I had mentioned it's just to fuel, food snacks and not meals. Never had any gi problems (nor the boys), and I'm being honest with you.

                I think the only problem you had with anything I'd mentioned was that I don't follow protocol for myself and I don't. And I often don't do what's ideal. As far as the boys they're getting what they need, my own practices differ from theirs; they are far healthier than I, and they excel performance wise. I can't be clearer on that issue.

                I think you have great information here for those who want and can use it. Just realize that largely, people take what they want and discard the rest. And so it goes.

                1. re: salvatoregianpaolo

                  Awesome to hear a real-world example of raw milk solving problems! :)

                  1. re: Nate650

                    How I started buying and consuming raw milk is a long story, but... wait a minute, I don't actually BUY it, since I live in a state where that would be illegal, so instead I get milk from a cow I own a share of...

                    Seriously, I won't even get on that soapbox, but let's suffice to say I've had great results. Not for everyone, I'm sure, but I'm a believer.

              2. re: salvatoregianpaolo

                I find the more I learn, the more I want to learn, too. I remember years ago doing an aerobics conference, where you work out from 7am to 7/8 pm for three days straight. I made it through but was exhausted by the last day. Then, I started long distance running, learned more about refueling and started doing it. I can go strong all three days now, though I'm quite a bit older. It makes a big difference, only appreciated because I can compare how I felt before and now. I'll never be competitive but am looking to function well after a tough workout--my clients and students don't care what kind of workout I just had, they want me to have energy.

            3. re: salvatoregianpaolo

              Actually, our bodies have enough fuel to work anaerobically for up to 3 minutes (two different fuel cycles) at a time, though the window can be increased with training. It takes 5-7 minutes for it to recover. Aerobically, it depends on how hard you're working on what percent fat/glucose you're burning. The closer to your VO2 max, the higher percent glucose, hence the need to refuel and the reason people hit the wall at 20 miles into the marathon. Our bodies only have so much glucose. If you work at a lower intensity, eg strolling (or even sleeping!), you can go on for hours/days on fat. But, the top marathon runners rarely work at that low of an intensity--they vary from anaerobic to burning mostly glucose in aerobic glycolysis. No one can do 90 minutes straight of anaerobic work. That's a very simple explanation and doesn't get into catabolizing muscle which can also happen. The key is that our fuel, whether working aerobically or anaerobically, is glucose, hence the reason it's called aerobic/anaerobic glycolysis.

              1. re: chowser

                Correct. Perhaps I worded my description incorrectly.

                I subscribe to the two threshold theory... one where accumulation begins, or LT1 (giving you somewhere in that range of 60-90min of work available) up to a second point, or LT2 (where you literally can perform for only a few seconds). Of course, this is simplified. As you mention, there is a lot more to it, such as new research showing lactate is actually used in glycogen production.

                I've done lactate testing in the lab... not fun! But it's helpful to know where you stand. If you are fueled properly, and with training, you can build your capacity to store glycogen and increase your thresholds. That, of course, ties in with why recovery is so important. By replenishing glycogen stores post-workout is how we build our capacity.


                1. re: salvatoregianpaolo

                  Somewhat related question for Sal, chowser, and anyone else that can provide input:

                  What are your thoughts on recent research suggesting that branched chain amino acids, taken soon after hard workouts, can aid in the muscle repair mechanism? I've seen some pretty good controlled studies that looked at both self reported delayed onset muscle soreness (DOMS) and performance on subsequent workouts. Most studies suggest that BCAAs taken during and/or during a workout can lessen DOMS, and can improve performance of the following workout.

                  The interesting thing, is that if correct, these results then suggest taking in some protein, along with carbs, post workout would be most effective - provided that that protein is high in BCAAs.

                  Personally, for the last year, I've been taking BCAA supplements after very hard workouts - 2 hour + spin classes, 50+ mile bike rides, 2+ hour mountain biking, long, slow distance runs, speed workouts (run and bike), and weight lifting. I think there's been a positive effect, at leas with DOMS - much less the following days, which means I can do another workout, or a harder workout, in the days following. Wondering what your thoughts might be, as it relates to post exercise foods.

                  1. re: foreverhungry

                    I would love to read the links you have on it. I'm guessing I have very different needs than you and sal, as a post-middle aged woman who, at this point in my life, lift only functionally using body weight/core equipment like the TR-X and work out accordingly, unless I'm training for a special race. I rarely experience DOMs these days. I had posted that link in the other thread that adding protein, post-workout, might not make a difference for women and might even hinder recovery, and that the results could be different for menopausal women vs pre so BCAAs might be very sex/age related, too.

                    Have you thought of doing the same workouts but not doing the supplements? I'd be curious to see if it made a different. IMO, even if it is a placebo effect, if it makes you feel better, it makes you feel better and I'm all for it, as long as it doesn't cause damage. Your not feeling DOMs as much could be that you're just in much better shape.

                    1. re: chowser

                      I agree with Chowser: I would try the workouts without the supplements and see the effect. That said, I have nothing against placebos... if they work! Our minds are very powerful. Heck, I used magnets for a while with great success!

                      Personally, I use a whey protein isolate powder in my post-workout shakes that naturally contains a lot of bcaa compounds. I tend to use it after lengthy, or what I would term "hard," workouts, and I've had great success with it. I mix it at around a 3:1 ratio (Carbs:Protein), along with some frozen banana, milk, H20, maple syrup, cinnamon, nutmeg. Pretty good stuff. I haven't searched out specific BCAA supplements, however, and now I'm curious as to which ones and how many are in my whey...

                      Truthfully, however, as far as recovery goes, nothing, and I mean NOTHING, beats ice baths. I was a runner for a long time, and I learned that icing after long runs will virtually remove all soreness for the following day. It is amazing! Sounds evil, but here's how simple it is:

                      1. Climb in empty tub
                      2. Put in stopper and start filling cold water
                      3. Dump in a few ice trays, and let water run until legs are covered
                      4. Turn off faucet, sit for an additional 5 min, rubbing ice chunks on legs
                      5. Drain tub, take hot shower

                      Miraculous. I use it nowadays after long days in the saddle, but in the dead of winter here I can even avoid the ice because the tap water gets so cold. I simply turn the shower on cold (COLD!) and let it run all over my legs until they are numb. Then dial it up to hot and take my normal shower. I highly recommend giving it a try.

                      1. re: salvatoregianpaolo

                        Funny, I've tried ice baths, and it didn't seem to do my any good. I tired them on about 6 occasions over the course of about 3 weeks, and I really didn't feel any different 24-36 hours after the workout. Took them within 10 minutes after the end of the workout. The literature suggests that ice baths work great for some folks, but does little or nothing for others.

                        As for BCAAs, I tried the experiment when I first considered using them. Of course, it's hard to do accurately because I know what I'm taking, but there was a noticeable difference 24-36 hours after a workout when I used them, as compared to when I didn't. The four major workout types they help with are: long, slow distance runs; speed work (running); long slow bike rides (50+ miles); and lifting. With all those, there's noticeably less delayed onset muscle soreness post-out when I take a BCAA supplement.

                        Caveats: 1) Could simply be placebo effect. 2) Could be something else in the mixes I take because they are not pure BCAAs, but are formulated specifically as high BCAA muscle recovery mix.

                        The literature supports BCAA effects on lessening DOMS, so that combined with the appearance that it works for me is good enough. It's now become a regular part of my post workout recovery.

                        1. re: foreverhungry

                          Wow. That's shocking to me about the ice baths, but of course not everyone's the same. I started using them because I was amazed at the number of professional and collegiate sports programs that require their athletes to use them after practices/games.

                          Sounds like what you're doing is working... so keep at it! I'm one to ALWAYS think there is a better way, and that is what keeps me researching and studying. What I'm doing today, even if it is working, could be tweaked and improved upon. At least that's what I think... and there are words for it: manic, anal, psychotic!!

                          Just curious, though... do you do the cycling as a general fitness routine, or to help with recovery from running?

                          1. re: salvatoregianpaolo

                            General fitness. I'm actually the opposite of most folks. I never used to run, but did a lot of biking. When I lived in Los Angeles, I mountain biked a lot int he Santa Monica Mtns, but it was a huge time commitment, and I was looking for some way to keep in shape between rides, so I started running. Though a bit painful at first, I really got into it, and ended up running a couple marathons when I moved to Minneapolis.

                            I took a break from running, and now I'm back training for s few half marathons. In the meantime, I'm doing some non-competitive long distance bike rides (general fitness, lower physical stress, and I enjoy it) and getting into competitive mountain bike races. Lastly, I did a duathlon 2 years ago and really liked it, so now I'm doing a few duathlons this year - one of them trail running and mountain biking.

                            It's hard to balance training for 60+ mile bike rides - even though they are non-competitive, and even though in a way they are training in and of itself, I look at it as though I have to train for 60+ mile rides - plus training for half marathons, plus mountain biking.

                          2. re: foreverhungry

                            BCAA supplementation has always worked for me - i stopped for a while and definitely noticed a difference, and i personally don't think it's a placebo effect. i know you've already read some of the supporting literature, but just in case you missed any of these:

                            1. re: goodhealthgourmet

                              Thanks for the links. I'm always looking for more to read on the topic.

                              1. re: foreverhungry

                                my pleasure - i hope some of it is new to you!

                              2. re: goodhealthgourmet

                                Thanks for the links--I saw this when I was on my phone and couldn't respond. Those are interesting "teaser" studies--the intro ones that show there should/could be more research with a larger number of participants. I like that there was a study on young, deconditioned females.

                                Do you two take pills, or do you eat foods higher in BCCA's? I tried using whey protein years ago and didn't see a difference at all. LOL, but this was before all these studies and I'm pretty susceptible to the placebo effect so maybe it would work for me now. I was told by a prenatal yoga teacher that gargling w/ warm water/apple cider vinegar would help w/ colds/etc. So, since 1999, I've done that every time I feel a slightly scratchy throat and I haven't been sick since, no colds or anything. I don't know if it's the placebo effect or not but I'm going to keep on doing it.<<knock wood>>;-)

                                1. re: chowser

                                  i take pills because i have a *really* difficult time eating anything within an hour or two before OR after a workout, so it's easier than trying to force down food...and i refuse to use powders that have artificial sweeteners & colors added, so there goes that option :)

                                  but i'll tell you what i've discovered that works even better for me than any supplement...fresh ginger. makes perfect sense because it's a powerful anti-inflammatory, and all i can tell you is that since i've started ingesting at least a couple of tablespoons of fresh ginger every day, the reduction in DOMS after tough workouts has been remarkable. we're talking barely noticeable soreness the day or two after a workout that should leave me hobbled...and it can't be the placebo effect, because i didn't figure it out until *after* i wondered what the heck was going on, retraced all my meals & workouts, and discovered that the only thing i had done differently was the ginger.

                                  first thing every morning and every evening after dinner, i use a microplane to grate a piece of ginger (i'd say 1/4 or 1/2 inch) into a glass of water spiked with lemon, cayenne & a little stevia, mix it up, and sip. it's really tasty!

                                  1. re: goodhealthgourmet

                                    I eat raw ginger all the time -- although not for recovery / anti-inflam purposes necessarily.

                            2. re: salvatoregianpaolo

                              Off topic but I told my husband when we remodel the bathroom, I want to add an ice maker that dispenses directly into the tub--any runner would get it. That said, I do the worst thing for me, some days, and hop in a hot shower. Immediate gratification sometimes wins out.

                              When I was lifting more, I would do the whey protein shakes after a session but never noticed a difference in how I felt so I stopped. See, this all shows with all the variations that there isn't one solution for everyone and it's good to play around some, if you're an info geek like I am.

                              1. re: chowser

                                That's not off topic!!! I would love to have an ice-maker in the bathroom. Matter of fact, if I'm going to do that, I can put an ice cream maker in there, too!!

                                1. re: chowser

                                  If I had to get in a bathtub full of ice, I think I'd give up running.

                                  Oh, wait...I never took it up.


                                  (congenitally and chronically bad knees and a bad back to boot = I really enjoy nice long *walks*)

                                  1. re: sunshine842

                                    Yeah, I talk about it, know it would be the right thing to do but haven't gotten myself to do it. I'm trying to convince myself that if I had a great spa tub, I'd do it.:-)

                                    1. re: chowser

                                      Truthfully, if you do it the way I describe, by sitting in the empty tub and filling everything around you, it's gradual. Not the awful shock of jumping into a tub of ice. For me, the results have been incredible.

                    2. Forget supplements, BCAAs, ice baths, and all that fancy-shmancy stuff.

                      A large McDonald's Vanilla Milkshake and a Filet-O-Fish, followed by a long 1 hour nap is all the recovery I need.

                      2 Replies
                      1. re: ipsedixit

                        I put you in the super human category of someone like Michael Phelps who can eat whatever he wants and still perform. I don't know anyone else who can refuel w/ Mountain Dew and Twinkies.:-)

                        I like to recovery with a good banh mi--almost my excuse for going longer and harder. But now I'm thinking I should train for an event in the middle of winter because a good bowl of pho would be great after a cold workout.

                        1. re: chowser

                          I think I'm just odd.

                          I don't do ice baths (prefer the hot tub)
                          I don't eat before any training and/or event for at least 12 hours, if not more.
                          I don't stretch (either before or after)

                          If pho didn't congeal into a gelatinous mess when cool, I'd put it in my water bottle on those long century rides ...