Friday, May 8, 2015

Protein Power

You completed a hard workout with great intensity and duration and your body is tired and fatigued. You smile as you love the feeling of being tired and worn out that comes with a sense of accomplishment for crushing your workout!
You eat, rehydrate and enter the recovery phase so you can experience equally great workouts the rest of the week.  As the week goes on, you find your workouts being harder and harder to complete. Your body is tired; you aren’t sleeping well and what you were able to do on Monday with energy and enthusiasm takes a monumental effort to complete the same activity on Friday.
If you have ever experienced this feeling of soreness, fatigue and dead legs or arms? You are not alone. When preforming strenuous workouts several days a week, you should not feel like giving up and going back to bed. Some fatigue is good, but being on “empty” is something to be avoided.
As my Ironman training is ramping up in duration and intensity, I recently found myself having trouble “recovering” for future workouts.  My sleep patterns and duration were fine, my carbohydrate intake was correct and my fluid intake was more than enough to support my activity.  I was frustrated. I had performed this same series of workouts late last year without the same symptoms of fatigue and dead legs.
So what changed? First, I realized that I am much stronger now than I was in the fall and it is taking more effort to get my heart rate and power output up than it did in the fall. This is a good thing. Unfortunately, if you do not pay detailed attention to your sleep, nutrition and hydration, fatigue will creep in and make your life miserable.
The second conclusion I came to was the amount of protein I was ingesting to help with recovery and muscle growth. While my power out has nearly doubled on the bike and my run times are 30 seconds per mile faster as a results of increased strength and fitness, I had actually gone backwards regarding my protein intake. 
This was a huge mistake. I was not giving my body the proper balance of nutrition to provide a full recovery. While I was doing well with carbohydrate replacement, I was only refilling half the tank so to speak. With less than optimal protein intake, I was not able to get the full benefit from each workout.
Once I added back more protein, my workouts were more impactful as my body and mood responded accordingly.
Research has shown that eating more protein can support muscle growth, improved athletic performance and weight loss and can prevent weight gain by boosting metabolism, increasing feelings of fullness and helping the body retain muscle while losing fat.
Unfortunately, many Americans are not consuming enough protein in a balanced way to achieve these effects. Next week we will take a deeper dive into the importance protein plays in your diet and how it can aid the various aspects of your health you are trying to accomplish.

HERE’S TO BEING FIT FOR LIFE! Chris is a Certified Personal Trainer, USA Triathlon Level 1 Coach, Group Exercise Instructor, exercise and endurance enthusiast.  He competes yearly in numerous running races, marathons, ultra marathons, triathlons and other endurance events.  He is a member of the 2015 QT2 Systems Advanced Team.