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Your Commissary – It's Worth the Trip!
Fueling your body with the right nutrients within the first hour following strenuous activity is key to optimizing performance. During this time, blood flow to muscle tissue increases and muscles are sensitive to effects of a hormone called insulin, making them more likely to absorb glucose and replensih energy or glycogen stores. Additionally, muscle protein synthesis, or the rebuilding of muscle tissue, is maximized. Replenishing energy stores and maximizing muscle protein sythesis after each activity session will prepare you for the next bout of strenuous activity and help you achieve your performance goals.
Post-workout fueling can be simple and inexpensive. Your ideal nutrition choice after a workout only needs to include simpler forms of carbohydrates and a small amount of fast-digesting protein. It is not necessary to buy expensive dietary supplements that claim to accelerate recovery and build muscle. Most of these pricy choices are backed by claims and not science. Instead, try low-fat chocolate milk. Not only is it readily available and cost effective, it has clearly been shown to improve performance and recovery. Making this your No. 1 post-workout fueling option makes sense and here is why:
Still not convinced? Try the chocolate milk challenge. Drink 8 ounces of chocolate milk within 60 minutes after each exercise session for one week and see how you feel. Were you a little less sore? Did you have more energy the rest of the day after your workout and also during your next workout session?
Lastly, don't let an intolerance for milk and other dairy products deter you from optimizing your recovery. Try low-fat chocolate soymilk instead. Similar to diary milk, chocolate soymilk provides the ideal ratio of carbohydrates-to-protein, aides in hydration, and contains the simple carbohydrates and easily digested protein needed to facilitate a faster recovery.
(Maj. Bethany Belanger is the nutrition lead in the Performance Triad Division, Office of the Army Surgeon General, Falls Church, Virginia.)
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