4

votes

Optimal workout recovery?

Answered on September 12, 2014
Created April 08, 2010 at 9:03 AM

I'm asking another question for my husband... he should prob get his own profile... but for now...

He feels like his body isn't recovering from workouts as quickly as it did pre-paleo. What can he do to recover as quickly and fully as possible from a workout?

Drink a protein shake afterwards? Before? Eat potatoes to replenish glycogen? Pig out on freshly killed meat (I assume this is what our ancestors would have done)?

B694ff94abba729b4d1568fc12ff3285

(169)

on April 27, 2010
at 11:48 AM

hey Heather, When you tell me what he is eating I'm missing one big element in his diet. Fat is really important in the paleo diet and as a guy with regular workouts, I need it more than ever (esp. on a low carb diet). try making him eat more fat. I usually take a big chunk of butter on the side of my dinner/lunch, a can of coconut milk etc will do the trick too if you don't like consuming dairy. I find it way easier to recover when I'm eating "clean".

Fd35eb89073e3a758066b7fcaad63d7c

(796)

on April 11, 2010
at 10:40 AM

Also, MikeD, I think and hope you're right about it just taking time for our bodies to adjust to the new diet/lifestyle. I had a few weeks where I felt very tired, like not doing any workouts but walking (used to be chronic cardio so this is strange) but I decided to just listen to my body and do what I felt like, and then the next week I had alot of energy and some really good workouts.

Fd35eb89073e3a758066b7fcaad63d7c

(796)

on April 11, 2010
at 10:37 AM

Actually he runs his unit's weight control program so he gets to plan most of his own workout (except for the required long runs, marches, pt test, etc.) As he's been doing more reading (Mark's Daily Apple especially) he's realizing that, contrary to what's been ingrained in him, chronic cardio isn't the best way for these guys to loose weight. So he's been trying to do more crossfit-type stuff (shorter intense workouts). We've also been trying to convince some of the guys to eat paleo (cooking them delicious paleo meals helps) but its hard to get people to change their habits!

Fd35eb89073e3a758066b7fcaad63d7c

(796)

on April 11, 2010
at 10:29 AM

thanks kim!! we'll check these out

E35e3d76547b18096a59c90029e7e107

(15613)

on April 09, 2010
at 06:25 PM

Great point MikeD, if he is doing 'chronic cardio' then much larger amounts of carbs might be obligatory. That said, I think it depends on the level of intensity; for more moderate sorts of endurance activity, performance might be better running fat, for the most intense stuff this will be impossible of c. I certainly have found that my endurance improved on the switch to a fat-based metabolism; agreed about adaptation though, shockingly it took me about a year to become fully adapted (seemingly), before that I was useless on LC (due to too much protein depressing ketogenesis I suspect)

E35e3d76547b18096a59c90029e7e107

(15613)

on April 09, 2010
at 04:23 PM

@ pjnoir, I agree that our ancestors were much more ad hoc about such things. Carbs should help recovery, but especially when combined with protein: carbs will restock depleted glycogen, protein is obviously necessary for structural repair. http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/12/081223193108.htm

E35e3d76547b18096a59c90029e7e107

(15613)

on April 09, 2010
at 09:42 AM

@Glenn/W8LM, we agree about catabolism/impaired performance absent glycogen, but I just don't see how protein would help restock glycogen pre-workout, physiologically. You'd feel a burst of energy from protein certainly, but that would be from gluconeogenesis and then running your WO off glucose in your bloodstream. Nothing wrong with that, but keeping insulin low pre-WO has its own advantages. By macro, I just meant at the level of broad evolutionary trends: e.g. winter vs summer/fast vs feast/catabolism vs anabolism etc, c.f. http://nephropal.blogspot.com/2009/10/summer-vs-winter-mode.html

Fd35eb89073e3a758066b7fcaad63d7c

(796)

on April 09, 2010
at 09:19 AM

He's been eating Paleo for almost two months. Not many carbs: a lot of vegetables, potatoes or sweet potatoes maybe twice a week. Some berries and about a beer a day. The intensity and duration of workouts hasn’t changed: he’s in the military and has to work out about every day, and is evaluated on his physical performance regularly. Not excelling means not advancing in your career—so he’s been frustrated at double or tripled (he tells me) recovery times. I'm not sure how to judge how much fat he's getting.

Fd35eb89073e3a758066b7fcaad63d7c

(796)

on April 09, 2010
at 09:08 AM

He's been eating Paleo for almost two months. Not many carbs, only that which he takes in from regular vegetables. Potatoes maybe once or twice a week. Add in a few berries now and then and the one beer a day, and that's all he's getting. He also has to mix a variety of short strength training paleo-like/cross-fitesque/sprintastic workouts with endurance training. While Grok may not have been a marathon runner, Grok wasn't also in the Military. Grok's career wasn't slowed down or side-tracked if Grok couldn't score higher than most on a variety of seemingly arbitrary physical tasks.

0fb8b3d6dcfb279b0f7e050d2d22510f

(4645)

on April 09, 2010
at 02:39 AM

I didn't say 'Hang around" You did. AND I didn't say never got any exerise, either. My point is that they didn't need to exercise like modern 21 century man. Go back and check what I wrote.

Db56a3a7ef6f208222cb501f29741b64

(30)

on April 09, 2010
at 01:47 AM

Our ancestors never got any exercise, they just ate food or fasted and hung around? really?

03aeff8d87a3b53a449b5b8e9158da98

(3268)

on April 08, 2010
at 11:47 PM

@ W8liftinmom -- I agree! David, you're a major contributor to this board, and like a lot of your answers, but I don't fully understand your approach to macros and working out. But if it works for you, great! That's the main thing. I've figured what works me.

Cfccbcf3450ac4919311ded8ef162d49

(2312)

on April 08, 2010
at 10:36 PM

I believe muscle protein will be catabolized if there is insufficient stored glycogen and the body hasn't adapted to running off fat.

E35e3d76547b18096a59c90029e7e107

(15613)

on April 08, 2010
at 06:31 PM

Agreed about catabolism absent glycogen, (but only if there are demands for glycogen- e.g. during fasting there's a shortage of glycogen but a reduction in muscle catabolism). It depends how long after exercise you're waiting for protein, it's a pretty straight continuum of decreasing insulin sensitivity for hours afterwards, (within 3 hours seems reasonable); it's the same of course for carbohydrate uptake, as we discussed on the question about post-WO recovery. And yes, different energy pathways, but the heaviest exercise uses glycogen, not protein- if you just want energy you'd use carbs.

03aeff8d87a3b53a449b5b8e9158da98

(3268)

on April 08, 2010
at 06:04 PM

I believe muscle protein will be catabolized if there is insufficient stored glycogen (a common situation for many paleo--as your point out). Plus, pre-workout protein ensures that free-floating amino acids (or straight-up branch chain aminon acids in powder form) are available for muscle protein synthesis immediately. Holding off on protein until some time after the workout is over may not allow uptake quickly enough to be optimal. Reasonably heavy weight training doesn't use fatty acid oxidation for fuel, so the energy pathways are quite different from endurance training.

E35e3d76547b18096a59c90029e7e107

(15613)

on April 08, 2010
at 11:15 AM

What difference do you have in mind to suggest that it's helpful for weight-training then? Eating before exertion is only going to shift nutrients out of the bloodstream and lock them into storage; why would you want to be doing that before exercise? Protein is part of the structure of the muscles, but it's hard to see why you'd want to add some immediately before workout- it's not used as a fuel in the same way glycogen is. Paleo-wise it's also difficult to see in what situation high-intensity activity would immediately follow dinner.

03aeff8d87a3b53a449b5b8e9158da98

(3268)

on April 08, 2010
at 11:04 AM

0 "Eating protein before or during workouts has been shown to be fruitless for performance." David, that study was done on endurance cyclists! Very, very different from e.g. lifting weights for 45 minutes to improve strength/hypertrophy.

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6 Answers

5
691f120a3e7a1a036845d105d86c99a3

(3641)

on April 09, 2010
at 01:39 PM

I know we are all thinking weight room stuff here, but isn't the military big into making guys run? If that's part of your husband's routine I can see where there is trouble.

Sadly I find Paleo to be a tough lifestyle if you are expected to put in a lot of endurance. Double headers of indoor ultimate frisbee (almost 2 hours of sprinting back and forth) kill me and require a few days of taking it easy. Mark from Primal Blueprint had it right when he put adequate rest in as part of an optimal paleo lifestyle. If the workout routines aren't gonna change, adjustments to get more rest are probably in order. Earlier bed time to increase his resting time would probably help.

If he's doing lots of running (which I think is probably the main problem) add some tropical fruit to his daily intake before that work out--I am thinking banana. I dont think bananas are great for my daily lifestyle which involves long hikes, resting and a couple tough weight training sessions a week, but for someone who is running 4 miles a day, I'd say that person might need that kind of fuel. I think its also probably a matter of muscle adaptation and eventually he will be surpass his competitors.

Fd35eb89073e3a758066b7fcaad63d7c

(796)

on April 11, 2010
at 10:40 AM

Also, MikeD, I think and hope you're right about it just taking time for our bodies to adjust to the new diet/lifestyle. I had a few weeks where I felt very tired, like not doing any workouts but walking (used to be chronic cardio so this is strange) but I decided to just listen to my body and do what I felt like, and then the next week I had alot of energy and some really good workouts.

Fd35eb89073e3a758066b7fcaad63d7c

(796)

on April 11, 2010
at 10:37 AM

Actually he runs his unit's weight control program so he gets to plan most of his own workout (except for the required long runs, marches, pt test, etc.) As he's been doing more reading (Mark's Daily Apple especially) he's realizing that, contrary to what's been ingrained in him, chronic cardio isn't the best way for these guys to loose weight. So he's been trying to do more crossfit-type stuff (shorter intense workouts). We've also been trying to convince some of the guys to eat paleo (cooking them delicious paleo meals helps) but its hard to get people to change their habits!

E35e3d76547b18096a59c90029e7e107

(15613)

on April 09, 2010
at 06:25 PM

Great point MikeD, if he is doing 'chronic cardio' then much larger amounts of carbs might be obligatory. That said, I think it depends on the level of intensity; for more moderate sorts of endurance activity, performance might be better running fat, for the most intense stuff this will be impossible of c. I certainly have found that my endurance improved on the switch to a fat-based metabolism; agreed about adaptation though, shockingly it took me about a year to become fully adapted (seemingly), before that I was useless on LC (due to too much protein depressing ketogenesis I suspect)

3
E35e3d76547b18096a59c90029e7e107

(15613)

on April 08, 2010
at 09:55 AM

If he wants to improve recovery then it'll simply be a matter of eating more protein or more carbs. One would assume, eating paleo, that it's more likely that he's eating adequate protein and inadequate carbs, so that's the logical adjustment to make.

It will also be beneficial if he eats the carbs/protein relatively close to the end of the workout (we're talking a matter of hours here, not minutes as is regularly assumed), since his muscles will be relatively more insulin responsive. From what I've been reading there may be something of a threshold effect, whereby minimal carbs will be channelled away from muscle tissue to the brain, but given plenty of carbs (and thus temporarily heightened blood glucose) glucose will be used to refuel the muscles.

Providing he's eating adequate protein (1.2-1.7g/kg), then I'd advise adding more carbohydrate rather than protein. Eating more protein above and beyond that required to optimise nitrogen balance won't bring any further than carbs and will be substantially more physiologically stressful (e.g. on kidneys, liver, glycation etc). The glucagon response will only work against his aims, by offsetting the insulin that is signalling for fuel uptake by his peripheral tissue (in this case, muscles), forcing tissue breakdown and energy into his bloodstream. Adding carbohydrate, conversely, will replenish glycogen and keep amino acids in the tissue rather than allowing them to be broken down, via the effects of insulin and also via reducing the body's need for gluconeogenesis. At a macro level (and there may be nothing in this other than what I've already said) it also makes paleo sense that the presence of carbs, denoting plenty and 'feasting' would encourage growth and recovery of muscle.

One thing to be said for 'freshly killed' meat is that it will contain a lot more creatine (before being thoroughly cooked), which is integral to growth, recovery and performance. If he's not a fan of rare meat then he could consider creatine replacements.

Eating protein before or during workouts has been shown to be fruitless for performance.

I wouldn't say that there's any benefit to having a protein shake rather than meat. The food will be more nutritious, which can only help recovery. There's a good window of time in order to benefit from improved muscle insulin responsiveness, so ingesting protein within minutes simply isn't necessary, although admittedly having it quicker will only help. It also depends on what sort of protein shake you were to use anyway: casein will be broken down very slowly anyway (and I doubt it's goat/beta-casein!) whereas whey may be more beneficial for recovery and growth, precisely because it is so insulinemic and easily digested.

Also make sure he's getting his cholesterol!

E35e3d76547b18096a59c90029e7e107

(15613)

on April 08, 2010
at 11:15 AM

What difference do you have in mind to suggest that it's helpful for weight-training then? Eating before exertion is only going to shift nutrients out of the bloodstream and lock them into storage; why would you want to be doing that before exercise? Protein is part of the structure of the muscles, but it's hard to see why you'd want to add some immediately before workout- it's not used as a fuel in the same way glycogen is. Paleo-wise it's also difficult to see in what situation high-intensity activity would immediately follow dinner.

03aeff8d87a3b53a449b5b8e9158da98

(3268)

on April 08, 2010
at 11:47 PM

@ W8liftinmom -- I agree! David, you're a major contributor to this board, and like a lot of your answers, but I don't fully understand your approach to macros and working out. But if it works for you, great! That's the main thing. I've figured what works me.

Cfccbcf3450ac4919311ded8ef162d49

(2312)

on April 08, 2010
at 10:36 PM

I believe muscle protein will be catabolized if there is insufficient stored glycogen and the body hasn't adapted to running off fat.

E35e3d76547b18096a59c90029e7e107

(15613)

on April 09, 2010
at 09:42 AM

@Glenn/W8LM, we agree about catabolism/impaired performance absent glycogen, but I just don't see how protein would help restock glycogen pre-workout, physiologically. You'd feel a burst of energy from protein certainly, but that would be from gluconeogenesis and then running your WO off glucose in your bloodstream. Nothing wrong with that, but keeping insulin low pre-WO has its own advantages. By macro, I just meant at the level of broad evolutionary trends: e.g. winter vs summer/fast vs feast/catabolism vs anabolism etc, c.f. http://nephropal.blogspot.com/2009/10/summer-vs-winter-mode.html

03aeff8d87a3b53a449b5b8e9158da98

(3268)

on April 08, 2010
at 11:04 AM

0 "Eating protein before or during workouts has been shown to be fruitless for performance." David, that study was done on endurance cyclists! Very, very different from e.g. lifting weights for 45 minutes to improve strength/hypertrophy.

E35e3d76547b18096a59c90029e7e107

(15613)

on April 08, 2010
at 06:31 PM

Agreed about catabolism absent glycogen, (but only if there are demands for glycogen- e.g. during fasting there's a shortage of glycogen but a reduction in muscle catabolism). It depends how long after exercise you're waiting for protein, it's a pretty straight continuum of decreasing insulin sensitivity for hours afterwards, (within 3 hours seems reasonable); it's the same of course for carbohydrate uptake, as we discussed on the question about post-WO recovery. And yes, different energy pathways, but the heaviest exercise uses glycogen, not protein- if you just want energy you'd use carbs.

03aeff8d87a3b53a449b5b8e9158da98

(3268)

on April 08, 2010
at 06:04 PM

I believe muscle protein will be catabolized if there is insufficient stored glycogen (a common situation for many paleo--as your point out). Plus, pre-workout protein ensures that free-floating amino acids (or straight-up branch chain aminon acids in powder form) are available for muscle protein synthesis immediately. Holding off on protein until some time after the workout is over may not allow uptake quickly enough to be optimal. Reasonably heavy weight training doesn't use fatty acid oxidation for fuel, so the energy pathways are quite different from endurance training.

1
Cfccbcf3450ac4919311ded8ef162d49

(2312)

on April 08, 2010
at 04:30 PM

A few questions to consider:

How long has he been eating paleo? How much carbs is he getting? How much fat is he eating? Has he changed the intensity/duration of his workouts? There really isn't enough info in your post to answer the question accurately.

If he is eating low-carb paleo and is feeling a lack of energy, it does take the body a few weeks to adapt. Especially if his diet was high carb before.

Fd35eb89073e3a758066b7fcaad63d7c

(796)

on April 09, 2010
at 09:19 AM

He's been eating Paleo for almost two months. Not many carbs: a lot of vegetables, potatoes or sweet potatoes maybe twice a week. Some berries and about a beer a day. The intensity and duration of workouts hasn’t changed: he’s in the military and has to work out about every day, and is evaluated on his physical performance regularly. Not excelling means not advancing in your career—so he’s been frustrated at double or tripled (he tells me) recovery times. I'm not sure how to judge how much fat he's getting.

Fd35eb89073e3a758066b7fcaad63d7c

(796)

on April 09, 2010
at 09:08 AM

He's been eating Paleo for almost two months. Not many carbs, only that which he takes in from regular vegetables. Potatoes maybe once or twice a week. Add in a few berries now and then and the one beer a day, and that's all he's getting. He also has to mix a variety of short strength training paleo-like/cross-fitesque/sprintastic workouts with endurance training. While Grok may not have been a marathon runner, Grok wasn't also in the Military. Grok's career wasn't slowed down or side-tracked if Grok couldn't score higher than most on a variety of seemingly arbitrary physical tasks.

B694ff94abba729b4d1568fc12ff3285

(169)

on April 27, 2010
at 11:48 AM

hey Heather, When you tell me what he is eating I'm missing one big element in his diet. Fat is really important in the paleo diet and as a guy with regular workouts, I need it more than ever (esp. on a low carb diet). try making him eat more fat. I usually take a big chunk of butter on the side of my dinner/lunch, a can of coconut milk etc will do the trick too if you don't like consuming dairy. I find it way easier to recover when I'm eating "clean".

0
Abb08da08e327d776926f2c9e4856582

(225)

on April 09, 2010
at 03:17 PM

Check out Robb Wolf's first podcast, it's entirely about post workout nutrition: http://robbwolf.com/2009/11/10/podcast-2/. Here's another one of his posts about post-workout nutrition: http://robbwolf.com/2009/07/01/post-workout-nutrition-high-or-low-carb/.

Fd35eb89073e3a758066b7fcaad63d7c

(796)

on April 11, 2010
at 10:29 AM

thanks kim!! we'll check these out

0
03aeff8d87a3b53a449b5b8e9158da98

(3268)

on April 08, 2010
at 11:03 AM

"Eating protein before or during workouts has been shown to be fruitless for performance."

David, that study was done on endurance cyclists! Very, very different from e.g. lifting weights for 45 minutes to improve strength/hypertrophy.

-1
0fb8b3d6dcfb279b0f7e050d2d22510f

(4645)

on April 08, 2010
at 03:42 PM

Our Ancestors didn't work out. They eat when food was plenty and fasted when none was around. One of the things I had a problem believing is that everyone is different. Paleo is not Low Carb. I am Low carb for diabetes. I'd add a few more carbs BEFORE a workout. Carbs won't help recovery- that is protein and to a lesser degree fat but some carbs will provide some energy for that up coming workout. Adjust the program, add a day's rest, what ever

Db56a3a7ef6f208222cb501f29741b64

(30)

on April 09, 2010
at 01:47 AM

Our ancestors never got any exercise, they just ate food or fasted and hung around? really?

0fb8b3d6dcfb279b0f7e050d2d22510f

(4645)

on April 09, 2010
at 02:39 AM

I didn't say 'Hang around" You did. AND I didn't say never got any exerise, either. My point is that they didn't need to exercise like modern 21 century man. Go back and check what I wrote.

E35e3d76547b18096a59c90029e7e107

(15613)

on April 09, 2010
at 04:23 PM

@ pjnoir, I agree that our ancestors were much more ad hoc about such things. Carbs should help recovery, but especially when combined with protein: carbs will restock depleted glycogen, protein is obviously necessary for structural repair. http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/12/081223193108.htm

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