By: Gabriela Llerena
After a workout or competition, the athlete enters a recovery phase to regain lost fuel and repair muscle damage. An adequate diet promotes the recovery of muscle glycogen, the regeneration of muscle proteins, reduces fatigue, and helps to preserve the health of the immune system. By eating properly, the athlete will be in optimal condition for their next training session or competition (1).
During physical exercise, a certain level of free radicals and therefore inflammation is produced. A certain degree of inflammation is normal and is necessary for various processes in the body including recovery from injuries and adaptations to exercise (for example, increasing muscle mass). The problem lies when the level of inflammation is excessive and chronic, caused by a sedentary lifestyle, smoking, excessive alcohol consumption, an excess of fat mass, a diet dense in energy and low in nutrients, a delay in post-exercise recovery, or overtraining. Chronic inflammation can produce a state known as oxidative stress, an imbalance between the number of free radicals and other reactive oxygen species (ROS) and both endogenous (produced by the body) and exogenous (those that we get from the diet). Oxidative stress can increase the risk of suffering injuries and chronic diseases such as atherosclerosis, diabetes, cancer, among others (1, 2 and 3).
For optimal post-exercise recovery and reduction of excessive inflammation, a diet in which nutrient-dense foods predominate and provide sufficient energy. Studies suggest paying special attention to the following nutrients (1):
To ensure an adequate intake of antioxidants, one should ensure a diet rich in:
In addition, to combat the excessive production of ROS it is recommended to reduce the consumption of foods such as: