#262 Replenish & Restore

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Thomas Jefferson

Your Key to Great Results

By Steve Edwards

Working Out with WeightsOne of the most important topics when it comes to exercise is how to recover from it. No matter how hard you train, you're only going to see great results if you do the things that enable your body to recover from the exercise you do. Let's take a look at how to make the best use of your time when you aren't bringin' it.

Recovering well is dependent on two variables: physiology and nutrition. In order to keep this as simple as possible, let's break your day down into time slots related to your workout. You'll see that by following a few simple rules you can greatly enhance your body's ability to recover quickly and get the most out of your exercise program.

Nutritional considerations

Your body uses different types of foods for different actions. For this reason, having an eating plan that supports your exercise program is the most important variable of your day.

Healthy MealBefore we get started, let's first look at the very basics of your diet. It consists of mainly three things: proteins, fats, and carbohydrates. Proteins and fats, in the simplest sense, make up our body tissue. Carbohydrates, which break down into sugars, are used to fuel our body. Since carbs aren't stored, we need to burn them off, meaning that how many of them we eat should be directly proportional to how much exercise we are doing.

Post-exercise. When it comes to eating for exercise, the most important time slot is immediately after your workout. Your body will only store up enough glycogen (blood sugar from carbohydrates) to get you through about an hour or so of hard exercise. At the end of a workout, our glycogen stores tend to be extinguished and need to be replenished. The quicker we can replenish these, the faster we will recover.

This aside is to warn you that this is the toughest part to understand for most people.

RelaxingSince protein makes up muscle tissue and muscle tissue is what's broken down during exercise, it makes sense to think we need to consume protein after a workout. But this isn't how the process works. Protein is absorbed by the body very slowly, whereas sugar is utilized very rapidly. The longer it takes to get nutrients after a workout the slower our bodies are able to recover.

Because of this, sugar immediately after exercise is the body's preferred fuel source. In general, we don't need any sugar at all and are much better off eating complex carbohydrates that include fiber and make our body break them down into sugar. However, post-exercise, the quicker we can replenish our lost blood sugar the faster our body will begin to recover. So a small amount of sugar after exercise is essential for efficient recovery. We've known this for a long time, which is why most "sports" drinks tend to be sugary. So essentially what would be a bad nutritional strategy most of the time is a good strategy after exercise.

P90X Peak Recovery FormulaDuring the 1990s science unlocked another key when studies showed that sugar with a small amount of protein—a 4:1 ratio being optimal—could enhance recovery around 25 percent over sugar alone, and up to 400 percent better than protein alone, when consumed within an hour after a workout. Again, fat and fiber are left out of this equation. While very important components of our diet, both fat and fiber interfere with rapid digestion, which is our goal after finishing a workout. This is the reason that our P90X® Peak Recovery Formula is designed the way it is.

Exercise: RunningDuring exercise. With the correct fueling strategy we won't need to eat during a normal workout lasting less than an hour and a half. However, if you find yourself low on nutrients and need to eat, you'll want to follow the same rules as you would after a workout. Again, glycogen replenishment is the goal, so we want to consume easy-to-digest carbohydrates with very little fiber and fat and little protein.

It's also important to note that your body can only utilize about 250 or so calories in a given hour, so it almost never makes sense to take in more than 250–300 cals/hour of sports foods during exercise. Of course, you can burn far more than 250 calories in an hour. This is why what you eat over the rest of the day is so vital.

Getting ReadyPre-exercise. It's best to exercise on an empty stomach, but the realities of life can make this difficult. Try using a three-hour rule for meals, meaning that you should not work out for at least three hours after a full meal. If you need to eat within three hours of your workout, begin to follow the rules of eating during a workout and start to minimize the amount of fat and protein you eat, and certainly the amount of calories. If you need to eat an hour prior to a workout, a 4 to 1 carb/protein sports meal of less than 300 calories is best because your body will be able to utilize it during the workout. If you eat a full meal an hour prior to exercise, most of it will be undigested in your stomach during your workout and you won't be able to train nearly as effectively.

Fruits and NutsBetween workouts. This is where your diet should reflect what you generally hear about nutrition. You want to eat nutrient-rich foods with plenty of fiber, good fatty acids, lots of protein, and very little, if any, sugar. As you can see from the above scenarios, you should eat a carb-heavy diet during and around the time you exercise. This means that for a balanced diet, you don't want a lot of carbs at other times. This is where your diet should consist of plenty of fruits, veggies, meats, nuts, and seeds.

Physiological considerations

This is a little simpler than the nutritional aspects because, well, it's pretty clear when you're exercising and when you're not. There are still a few tips that can help you recover, especially when we begin to look at the phases of exercise.

Post-exercise. After you've finished a workout your body is warm and your muscles are tight because they've been contracting over and over. Stretching immediately after a workout is the best time to lengthen your muscles which, in turn, will reap you huge benefits on the recovery end.

Drinking WaterDuring exercise. In general, you want to exercise as hard as your body allows. If you've properly fueled your body with nutrients and liquids, it should respond well. However, if you've slacked on these factors, you may bonk (run out of blood sugar) or become dehydrated. No matter how fastidious we are, these things will happen to us at some point. Learning to recognize the signals that your body is in trouble can help you decide when it's better to push on or when it's best to back off.

Both bonking and dehydration can feel similar. The first signal is generally a lack of energy and the inability to push a given weight or exercise as well as you normally can. If you have a heart rate monitor, the inability to achieve your normal high readings is a sign. And if your workout keeps getting worse, chances are it's due to one of the above-mentioned factors. Shaking and lightheadedness are also things to be aware of. If you can't control your form, you're done. Basically, once you've determined that your body is lacking nutrients, you're always better off ending a workout early. Causing further breakdown in an unfueled state will do a lot more harm than good and could set your program back up to two weeks, or longer if you get injured.

StretchingPre-exercise. When your body is at rest it "stiffens" up, a condition called thixotropy. You have bodily fluids that lube your joints as you exercise. Easy moving warms your body temperature and makes these fluids more viscous. A thorough warmup includes joint manipulations and ballistic stretches that get your body ready for the rigors of exercise. A thoroughly warmed-up body can endure a lot more stress during a workout, meaning that you'll get more results from the same amount of effort.

Between workouts. There are all sorts of things that help your body recover better between workouts, but none of them is as important or as effective as sleep. When you sleep, your body's recovery hormones get to work overtime and learning to sleep better or making time to sleep (or taking naps) is just about the most effective way to ensure you recover well. The power of sleeping is so vital that five-time Tour de France winner Eddy Merckx once said, "The Tour is won in bed."

Between workout phases. The most effective way to train your body is in phases. You work on something for a given amount of time and then you focus on something else. All of the Beachbody fitness programs work in phases that generally last from three to 12 weeks. The time of each phase should vary depending upon the time and intensity of the training involved. What never changes is that you should also have a rest or recovery phase as part of your plan.

We generally schedule serendipitous "recovery phases" around our social calendars. These are times when we give up trying to work out because we know we'll be too busy. Recognizing that having a recovery phase is an important part of an exercise program can help you get the most out of these periods. A recovery phase generally involves doing low-intensity exercise and avoiding intense work that causes a lot of muscle tissue breakdown. When we plan recovery phases ourselves, they often contain no exercise. While this works, it's better if we were to do some light exercise designed to enhance our body's natural ability to recover.

Tony HortonWhen we train hard we cause a chronic condition called cumulative microtrauma. For a variety of reasons it can't be avoided because it's caused by some of the natural byproducts of hard training, like lactic acid build-up and high-threshold muscle cell motor unit recruitment. Therefore, recovery cycles are designed so that you exercise in a way that doesn't let these things happen. You end up doing more easy aerobic work and stretching that oxygenates your blood and builds up capillaries, which has the effect of building your body's capacity to handle more intense training during the next round of your given program.

A good recovery program will include things like easy aerobic work, yoga, simple resistance exercises, and lots of stretching. Beachbody has a lot of examples, such as Ho' Ala ke Kino, Slim Series® Cool It Off, Power Half Hour® Power Stretch, and Yoga Booty Ballet® Master Series - Pajama Time, to name but a few.

Check out our Fitness Advisor's responses to your comments in Steve Edwards' Mailbag on the Message Boards. If you'd like to receive Steve Edwards' Mailbag by email, click here to subscribe to Steve's Health and Fitness Newsletter. And if you'd like to know more about Steve's views on fitness, nutrition, and outdoor sports, read his blog, The Straight Dope.

Steve Edwards If you'd like to ask a question or comment on this newsletter article, just email us at mailbag@beachbody.com.


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What to Eat for Beautiful Skin

By Denis Faye

Moisturizing your SkinWe always hear from our customers that even their skin is looking younger since they started to exercise. It's not their imagination—they have improved the health of their skin by living a healthier lifestyle.

Nowadays, there seems to be a lotion or cream to cure just about any skin ailment. While there are indeed some wonderful elixirs out there, I ask you, if you want to tend to your liver, will you put Lubriderm on it? If you want to make sure your heart will stay young and vital, will you slather on some Oil of Olay?

Of course not. But get this: the skin is an organ just like your heart and your liver. In fact, it is the largest organ on the human body. So, if you do the math, it seems obvious that you should keep it healthy the same way you keep all the rest of your organs in shape: through diet and exercise.

Of course, every organ is different. While diet and exercise are universally beneficial, they affect each organ in diverse ways. Here's a breakdown of how your outer casing benefits from a health-filled regimen.

Eating for your epidermis

Taking VitaminsAll kinds of vitamins and minerals do all kinds of things for your skin. Zinc and protein speed healing and reconstruct damaged tissue, as does vitamin C, by aiding the production of collagen, the protein-building blocks vital to all your connective tissue.

Vitamin E helps with circulation, which flushes out toxins.

Both vitamins C and E deliver antioxidants, which are believed to fight against sun damage, smoke, and the dreaded hole in the ozone layer, although they are by no means a substitute for sunblock and a good hat—or for giving up smoking.

ActiVitAll these damaging effects create free radicals, nasty little oxidized molecules that are believed to cause tissue damage at the cellular level. Among other things, free radicals contribute to the development of cancer. The best way to neutralize them is with antioxidants, like the ones you get from many fruits and vegetables, including oranges, berries, leafy greens, and beets. You'll also find antioxidants in green tea. And to make sure you're getting all the nutrients you need, but don't always get, take a premium multivitamin like ActiVit®.

You'll hear talk from time to time of the antioxidants in chocolate, but keep in mind that chocolate also overstimulates oil production, so you wouldn't be doing your skin any favors by plowing through those M&Ms. Click here for much better ways to zap those free radicals!

And then there's water. As with everything else having to do with your body, H2O makes all the difference. Eight glasses a day will hydrate your skin, flush out toxins, and regulate your oil glands, which is great news for your complexion. Water is also excellent for skin elasticity. Unfortunately, stretched skin often won't completely shrink to fit, but keeping hydrated will definitely help. For more reasons why you need to drink water, click here!

Denis Faye If you'd like to ask a question or comment on this newsletter article, just email us at mailbag@beachbody.com.

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Test Your American Food Invention IQ!

By Joe Wilkes

Put these great American innovations in food technology in chronological order.

  1. Coca-ColaCoca-Cola – 1886. Coca-Cola was invented in 1886 by a pharmacist named Dr. John Pemberton. The original recipe was sold for medicinal purposes and included extracts of cocaine and the kola nut, giving the drink its name. In its first year of production, only $50 worth of product was sold, not covering the initial $70 investment. In 1905, cocaine was taken out of the recipe, and it began to be marketed as a soft drink.

  2. Double Bubble bubble gum – 1928. The first bubble gum was invented in 1906 by Frank Fleer, but was never sold. In 1928, Walter Diemer updated the formula, creating the pink chew we enjoy today. Chewing gum was invented in 1848 from spruce sap. Later, Thomas Adams realized chicle was a better gum ingredient as he investigated its use in tire production.

  3. Lunch BoxThe commercial metal lunchbox – 1950. The first lunchbox was produced in 1950 by Aladdin, and featured Hopalong Cassidy. Many more lunchbox tie-ins followed, although metal lunchboxes began to be phased out in the 1970s over parental concerns that schoolchildren were braining each other with them on the playground. Plastic ones sprung up to replace them. The last weapons-grade metal lunchbox, appropriately enough, featured Rambo in 1985.

  4. The Pez dispenser – 1952. The Pez dispenser was invented in 1952. Pez itself was invented by Austrian Eduard Haas in 1927. Its name was short for pfefferminze, the German word for "peppermint." The peppermint candies were designed to help people quit smoking. In 1952, to boost lagging sales, the candies were reformulated in fruit flavors to appeal to kids, and in a masterstroke of marketing, a dispenser was invented so kids could enjoy candy which came from a hole in the throat of their favorite cartoon character.

  5. TV DinnersThe TV dinner – 1954. Gerry Thomas invented the Swanson TV dinner in 1954, as the boob tube was beginning to assume its dominant position as the centerpiece of American family life. In the 1960s, as shame over TV addiction began to set in, the term "TV dinner" was replaced with "frozen dinner." In 1986, the aluminum trays were replaced with microwaveable trays, so the product could be enjoyed using both of America's favorite electronic boxes.

If you'd like to ask a question or comment on this newsletter article, just email us at mailbag@beachbody.com.

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