Sports nutrition articles

Recovery and how to improve sports performance

Recovery right after the end of training will be a key and determining point in the performance and positive evolution of the athlete or active individual in accordance with their goals.

In this article our collaborator Nutrisport, will tell us a series of very interesting topics about training recovery and how to improve our performance through nutrition

  • Adaptations to physical exercise and recovery.
  • Restful and restorative sleep: determining factor to adapt to a workload.
  • What happens when I am not recovering optimally and what consequences can it have?
  • Nutritional strategies in the post training.


Physical exercise following certain guidelines allows establishing adaptations at the physiological and metabolic level that will give the individual a greater capacity for work and, therefore, an improvement in performance.

These adaptations are stimulated by stress hormones (glucocorticoids and catecholamines), among other factors, that are released during physical exercise. This hormonal signal, in turn, will induce the release of other substances that regulate inflammatory processes and the immune system.

PFor there to be an adaptation there must be an adequate stress stimulusor. Nevertheless, training periods Chronic intense can make it difficult for our body to adapt favorably. To prevent this from happening, we must recover properly after training.


In the night rest period numerous physiological processes occur responsible for restoring parameters of our body, such as capacity of the immune systemwave insulin sensitivity blood pressure, etc.

A alteration in the hours of sleep as well as in the quality of this can negatively affect hormonal secretion. As a result, the secretion of catabolic hormones like cortisol is increased. On the other hand, the secretion of anabolic hormones such as testosterone, factor ILG-1 and growth hormone (GH), will suffer alterations. A change in the hormonal pattern can induce more muscle catabolismr, in addition to reducing the processes of synthesis of muscle tissue. As a result, muscle recovery will be impaired.

The reduction of the hours of sleep results in a metabolism of the glucose altered along with altered insulin sensitivity. Also, neuroendocrine function as well as the immune system, would be negatively affected. This can induce changes in the appetiteo, preference for certain food groups, changes in body composition, Among others.

An alteration of the mentioned aspects supposes to the athlete or active individual a decrease in performance.


When the aadaptations to training load they are not the right ones, we may not be recovering optimally and we may notice:

Un chronic fatigue status. During training, at work, at school, during the weekend, etc.

Lower performance levels what was expected in the trainings.

Un suboptimal progress of workouts.

General muscle pain, appearance of injuries more frequently or we have not fully recovered from that injury.

Body composition varies, surprisingly we have lost muscle tissue and increased fat mass.


It's very probable that cortisol levels are elevated or slightly elevated. The hormone cortisol has a catabolic role at the level of muscle tissue, in addition to inhibiting the anabolic effect of physical exercise at a certain level. On the other hand, high levels of cortisol reduce the levels of the anabolic hormones GH (growth hormone) and IGF-1.

As a result of increased levels of cortisol, our testosterone levels will be reduced. The body is in a catabolic state, in which it consumes more muscle than is synthesized. For our organism, a catabolic state is synonymous with a period of stress. As a consequence, nour body will store fat. Therefore, fat loss will be more difficult, having a negative impact on body composition.

Testosterone / Cortisol and IGF-1 / Cortisol ratio. This relationship allows us to observe the behavior of anabolic hormones (Testosterone and IGF-1) and catabolic hormones (Cortisol) at the same time. When we don't recover optimally, hormones reflect it. High cortisol levels denote poor recovery or poor adaptation to stress caused by physical exercise at a certain intensity.


The timing in nutrition contemplates the intake of certain amounts and type of nutrients at a specific time to get the benefit of this intake, which can be an optimal recovery or an increase in muscle tissue or reduction of fatty tissue, among others.

How much protein should it contain post-workout food to maximize recovery?

The latest consensus established by the JISSN (Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition) highlights that athletes seeking to maximize muscle protein synthesis (MPS), would obtain such benefit by taking a quantity of protein between 20-40 grams maximum or between 0.2-0.4 grams of protein per Kg body weight. Also, favoring the presence of 10 grams of essential amino acids within the same bolus of proteins would favor muscle regeneration processes.

How much carbohydrates should it contain?

Muscle glycogen stores are maximized by making a considerable intake of carbohydrates during a certain period of time. The introduction of foods with a high glycemic index and glycemic load (glycemic load: carbohydrate content per serving of food) will favor the replenishment of the energy reserves of the muscle.

We will adjust the amount of carbohydrates according to the weight of the individual, the objective and the intensity (and duration) or type of training.

Carbs and protein at the same time or separately?

We recap the latest consensus established by the JISSN (Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition). This highlights the benefits of taking carbohydrates and proteins together to enhance recovery of the muscles after resistance training.


Chad M. Kerksick, Shawn Arent, Brad J. Schoenfeld, Jeffrey R. Stout, Bill Campbell, Colin D. Willborn et al. International society of sports nutrition position stand: nutrient timing. Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition. (2017) Vol. 14 (37).

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John A. Hawley, Jill J. Leckey. Carbohydrate dependence during prolonged, intense endurance exercise. Sports Medicine (2015). 45 (Suppl 1): S5-S12.

Potgieter S. Sport nutrition: A review of the latest guidelines for exercise and sport nutrition from the American College of Sports Nutrition, the International Olympic Committee and the International Society for Sports Nutrition. South African Clinical Nutrition Journal (2013); 26 (1): 6-16.

Dietitians of Canada. Nutrition and Athletic Performance. Position of Dietitians of Canada, the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics and the American College of Sports Medicine. (2016).

Bonnar D., Bartek K., Kakoschke N., Lang C. Sleep Intervention designed to improve athletic performance and recovery: A systematic review of current approaches. Sports Medicine (2018) Vol. 48 (3): 683-703.

Shona L. Halson. Sleep in elite athletes and nutritional interventions to enhance sleep. 82014). Sports Medicine Vol. 44 (1): 13-23.

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