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Recovery & Joint Health

Any good athlete knows the importance of taking care of his/her body so that it can adequately recover from the rigors of sports and exercise. Whether you want to speed up your recovery, or heal up an injured muscle or joint, Labrada can help you. Even when you’re NOT training, you still need a nutrition plan.

You need to feed your body nutrients and supplements that will enhance your recovery; while avoiding unnecessary muscle losses or body fat gains.

If you're serious about improving your recovery, take that important first step NOW – start by reading below!

"The Joint Recovery" Stack

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  • Sorenzyme™

    D.O.M.S. Recovery Enzymes

    More info
  • ElastiJoint®

    Joint Support Formula

    More info
  • BCAA-POWER

    100% Branched Chain Amino Acids

    More info
  • GLUTALEAN™

    100% Pure L-Glutamine

    More info
  • EFA LEAN Gold Softgel Caps

    Essential Fatty Acid Blend

    More info
  • HUMANOGROWTH™

    Growth Factor Formula

    More info

Intro

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To many athletes, “rest” is a four-letter word, but it shouldn’t be treated as one. All athletes take breaks: whether they’re planned (recovery weeks and vacations) or unplanned (family emergencies, illness or injury). It can be tough to step away from your program, but it’s important to take the long view. Regular training breaks are absolutely essential for continuing to make solid progress, while avoiding overtraining and/or psychological burnout. And illness/injuries/emergencies are simply part of life. In the end, the trainee who anticipates and learns to manage disruptions to his/her program will be far more successful than the one who doesn’t.

That’s what this article is about. Even when you’re NOT training, you still need a nutrition plan. Whether you’re relaxing on the beach or nursing a torn rotator cuff, you need to feed your body nutrients and supplements that will enhance your recovery; while avoiding unnecessary muscle losses or body fat gains. It’s a fine line to walk, but you can do it if you eat…

  • The right number of calories;
  • The right balance of macronutrients;
  • The right supplements.

Let’s address the calorie/macronutrient side of the equation first.

Diet & Meal Plans

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Nutrition Basics: Calories & Macronutrients

This part is pretty simple, really. Food – all food – provides you with energy (calories) and macronutrients. The latter are divided into three basic biochemical categories: protein, fat and carbohydrates.

Calories

A calorie (actually a kilocalorie or “kcal”) is a unit of energy. Scientifically speaking, it's the amount of energy needed to raise the temperature of 1 kilogram of water 1°C. Since your body maintains a core temperature of roughly 37°C, 24/7, it’s obvious that you need a certain number of calories just to exist. The number of calories needed to perform basic life functions (like breathing and thinking) is known as your resting energy expenditure (REE).

Activities such as walking, talking, eating and – yes – training require additional energy. So, your total daily energy expenditure (TDEE) is your REE, plus the energy used for physical activity and digestion (aka the “thermic effect of food”).

To put it another way…

Your TDEE is the total number of calories you can eat without gaining or losing weight.

Not surprisingly, this is the starting point for any recovery nutrition plan. Too many calories – even from healthy foods – will result in fat gains. Too few will accelerate muscle loss and delay your recovery.

Since you’re out of the gym, you don’t need to eat as many calories as you did before. But you may still need more than you think! This is no time to slash calories to the bone, particularly if you’re sick or injured. Some extra calories will be needed to cope with tissue repair/remodeling and inflammation.

To determine how much you should be eating, you need to calculate your TDEE for your current (reduced) activity level. Click the link below to use an online calculator.

Click here to visit an online TDEE calculator.

If you’re just taking a break from training, use one of the lower activity figures. If you’re recovering from an injury or surgery, however, add an additional 20% (multiply by 1.20) to the final figure (use the spreadsheet in the “Putting it All Together” section). Those extra calories will cover the “cost” of the healing process.

For optimal recovery, the majority of your calories should come from quality sources of the three macronutrients: protein, fat and carbohydrates.

Protein

When you’re out of the gym, mitigating muscle loss should be your top priority. Eating plenty of high-quality protein will help you do this. Meat, fish, poultry, egg and dairy proteins are not only concentrated sources of protein; they’re also rich in the essential amino acids (EAAs) that our bodies cannot make. One of these, leucine, is especially important for muscle protein synthesis.1

Your protein sources should be low in fat, as fat is a highly concentrated source of calories! The “hidden” calories in fatty meats can easily tip the scales in favor of body fat gains.

Optimal Protein Sources Sub-Optimal Protein Sources
lean beef (flank steak, beef tenderloin, 96% lean ground beef) deli meats
skinless chicken breast hard cheeses/processed cheese
turkey breast lunch meats/hot dogs
egg whites bacon/sausage/salami/pepperoni
fish/shellfish whole milk/milk drinks/milk substitutes
pork tenderloin fried chicken/fish
low fat/non-fat cottage cheese ground beef with >4% fat (by weight)
low fat/nonfat Greek yogurt (plain) cuts meat with visible fat/marbling
water-packed tuna buffalo wings, bbq ribs

Note: don’t be fooled by front-of-package labeling! This may come as a surprise, but more than half of the calories in 15% “lean” ground beef come from fat! This is because the label is based on the percentage of fat by weight. Since fat is a concentrated source of calories, even small amounts of fat can add a lot of unwanted calories.

As you can see from the table, an optimal source of protein is…

  • Low in fat, carbohydrates and excess sodium
  • Derived from animals rather than plants.

What About Vegetarians?

Meat and fish are concentrated sources of protein and essential amino acids, so it’s not hard for omnivores to eat the recommended amount of protein. Vegetarians, however, may have a tougher time. If you're a lacto-ovo vegetarian, the void left by meat can be partially filled with eggs/whites, lower fat dairy foods like cottage cheese and Greek yogurt and - of course – high-quality protein supplements like Lean Pro8 or Lean Body®.

But vegans can also manage, if they choose their foods and supplements wisely. Vegan women should focus on plant foods that contain the highest amount of protein, such as lentils, soybeans, split peas and other legumes; peanuts/peanut butter, spinach, oatmeal and whole grains (including products like whole wheat pasta and bread). Certain specialty products (like “Quorn” or "Gardenburgers") and plant-based protein supplements (brown rice, pea, soy and hemp protein powders) can also be used, although whole/minimally processed foods should form the core of your diet.

Vegans/vegetarians may also come up short in certain food elements that omnivores take for granted: vitamin B12, zinc, calcium, creatine, vitamin D (assuming lack of daily sun exposure),2 EPA/DHA3 and carnosine.4 Certain supplements in my line are perfect for vegans, such as my BA-Endurance, EFA Gold, CreaLean, Kre-Alkalyn, BCAA Power and HICA-Max, as they restore the carnosine, EFAs, creatine and certain essential amino acids that may be lacking in a vegan diet.

How much protein should you eat? Make sure you’re getting a minimum of 1g protein per pound of bodyweight.

Fats

As noted above, fat can contribute a lot of extra calories to your diet, so it’s important to keep your fat intake down. Nonetheless, some dietary fat is important for good health and optimal anabolic hormone levels. A little goes a long way, though, since fat contains 9 calories/g vs. 4 calories/g for protein & carbs. Because of this, limit your fat intake to small servings of natural, whole food sources and unrefined/supplemental oils, such as the ones listed below. An intake of 30% of total calories works well for optimal health and well-being.

Optimal Fat Sources Sub-Optimal Fat Sources
almonds/walnuts/pistachios/other raw nuts commercial cooking oils
ground flax seed margarine/butter
hemp/sunflower/sesame seeds commercial salad dressings/mayonnaise
wild-caught salmon bacon/sausage/salami/pepperoni
avocadoes whole milk/half & half/cream
extra-virgin olive oil shortening/lard
fish oil ground beef with >4% fat (by weight)
EFA Lean Gold cuts of meat with visible fat/marbling

Note: be especially wary of foods containing “partially-hydrogenated vegetable oil.” Partially-hydrogenated oils contain harmful trans-fats, which are linked to heart disease and strokes.5

What makes the fat sources on the left better choices than the ones on the right? The ones on the left provide heart-healthy monounsaturated and/or omega-3 essential fatty acids. Foods like nuts, seeds, avocadoes and salmon also supply valuable nutrients in addition to the fat. On the other hand, the fat sources on the right contain excessive amounts of saturated fat, trans-fats and/or pro-inflammatory omega-6 fatty acids.6 Controlling inflammation is especially important if you’re recovering from an injury or surgery. Some inflammation is to be expected – it’s a normal part of the healing process. Excessive inflammation, however, is not.

Carbohydrates

Carbs are not the enemy, despite what low-carb advocates claim. Complex carb sources like fruit, fibrous/starchy vegetables, whole grains and legumes provide energy, vitamins/minerals, disease-fighting phytochemicals and fiber.

Optimal Carb Sources Sub-Optimal Carb Sources
sweet potatoes/yams; white potatoes french fries/potato chips
brown/wild rice, barley, quinoa “Rice-a-Roni” and other packaged, pre-seasoned grain “side dishes”
old-fashioned/steel-cut oatmeal packaged, ready-to-eat cereals
Whole grain bread/pasta pizza; fettucine alfredo; other grain-based dishes with fatty toppings
legumes (beans and dried, split peas) baked beans; canned bean/pea soups
fresh and frozen (unseasoned) vegetables sauced/buttered frozen vegetables
fresh and frozen (unsweetened) fruit “fruit snacks”/juice drinks
Rye Crispbreads commercial crackers and tortilla chips
corn tortillas; air-popped popcorn jams/jellies/honey/agave syrup/sugar/maple syrup
sweetened coffee drinks, energy drinks, sodas, “Vitamin Water”
candy bars, cookies, snack cakes

It should be easy to see the differences between the optimal and sub-optimal carb sources in the table above. An optimal carb source…

  • Is either unprocessed; or minimally-processed so that the original nutrients are retained;
  • Is high in natural fiber;
  • Does not contain excessive amounts of added fat or sugar.
  • Keeps insulin production controlled.

How Many Meals Should You Eat?

Reduced activity can lead to a reduced appetite – especially if you’re ill or recovering from physical trauma. This is why I routinely recommend eating 5 – 6 meals/snacks. If your appetite is poor, smaller meals will be easier to handle. In addition, stable blood sugar7 and a steady supply of nutrients will help you recover faster – so you can return to the gym at 100%.

Putting it all together...

Use the spreadsheet below to calculate your (starting) calorie and macronutrient needs:

Body Weight (lbs):
TDEE: TDEE+20%:
Protein (g): Protein (g):
Fat (g): Fat (g):
Carbohydrate: Carbohydrate:

Here’s a simple meal plan for a 160 pound athlete on a recovery diet of 2400 calories/day.

Meal Protein (g) Carbs (g) Fat (g) Calories
Breakfast: Veggie scramble ( 2/3 c. egg whites, 1 whole egg, mixed veggies); 1 c. cooked oatmeal; 2/3 c. unsweetened blueberries; EFA Lean Gold 32 52 11 435
Mid-morning: 4 oz. 2% cottage cheese; 1 oz. almonds; 1 c. fresh pineapple chunks 23 31 16.5 365
Lunch: 4 oz. grilled chicken breast, mayo on a whole wheat pita; 1 c. raw broccoli florets; 4 oz. baby carrots; 1 orange; EFA Lean Gold 47 65 20 628
1 Cookie Roll bar; medium apple 26 60 8.5 421
Dinner: 4 oz. grilled orange roughy, 1 c. steamed green beans, spinach salad w/olive oil vinaigrette; 1 c. brown rice pilaf ; EFA Lean Gold 34 55 22.5 559
Totals: 162 263 78.5 2408

TIps for Success!

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  • 1.

    Keep a journal to make sure your nutrition is on track. There are a number of online programs and mobile apps you can use to make this simple, although even pencil-and-paper will do. If you need to tweak your program, your journal will provide you with valuable insights on how to do it.

  • 2.

    Keep tabs on your body composition – you want to make sure that you’re not a) gaining body fat; or b) losing lean muscle mass. The simplest and best method is to pick up an inexpensive caliper, Accu-Measure™.

    Note: You can get your own Accu-Measure Body Fat Calipers by calling Labrada Nutrition at 1-800- 832-9948.

  • 3.

    Measure your food. The “normal” portions we’re used to eating and drinking have expanded over the years... and Americans have been expanding right along with them! "Portion distortion" is one reason why people fail in their efforts to keep fat gains at bay: they're eating many more calories than they think they are! Take peanut butter for an example: a "serving" is two LEVEL tablespoons. Most Americans use heaping spoonfuls - equivalent to 2 - 3 servings. Even small underestimates, over the course of the day, can add up to a lot of extra calories.

  • 4.

    Pack a cooler. Assuming you’re not trapped at home (or worse, in a hospital), you’ll need to plan for eating on-the-job. Fortunately, there are a lot of simple to prepare-and-eat foods you can take with you to work: sliced pre-cooked meat or poultry, raw veggies/grape tomatoes, hard-boiled eggs, rye crispbreads and foil tuna packets are some examples. If you have access to a microwave, you can also bring leftover chili, stew or other entrees from home.

    Don’t forget to pack some nutrient-packed snack foods too! Raw (or lightly toasted) nuts/seeds, jerky and Lean Body® Bars need no refrigeration and fit easily into a pocket or backpack: perfect for munching on-the-go.

  • 5.

    Plan ahead! Meal replacement shakes and bars can be lifesavers when you don’t feel like cooking, but they’re not superior to real food! So simplify your life by prepping certain staples in advance. It's easy, for example, to put together a quick, healthy stir fry, if you have pre-chopped veggies, cooked brown rice and grilled chicken breasts already stored in the fridge or freezer.

  • 6.

    Limit your alcohol intake. Alcohol is a diuretic, contains empty calories, and could be risky if you’re taking any medications (check with your doctor or pharmacist if you’re unsure!).

  • 7.

    Drink plenty of water. It's important to stay well hydrated! In addition, water – in conjunction with a high-fiber diet – will help keep you regular (reduced activity can lead to constipation).8

Supplements

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Should you take additional supplements?

While you don’t need a lot of different products, a few, carefully chosen ones can make a big difference to your recovery and long-term health.

The supplements I recommend to improve endurance performance and recovery are...

  • 1.

    Sorenzyme™. Sorenzyme is the collaborative effort of Labrada’s Research & Development team and Dr. Mark J. Tallon, a Nutritional Biochemist who is also one of the industry’s leading minds in nutrient metabolism.

    Sorenzyme's powerful enzymatic formula combines two proven systems in immune and inflammatory control resulted in a supplement that is safe, effective, all natural, and the first of its kind in the sports nutrition market.9

  • 2.

    A solid joint support formula. Athletes’ joints take a pounding, so they need all the nutritional support that you can give them.

    ElastiJoint® is designed for active people who have joint stress, experience joint stiffness due to the natural aging process, or for people who want to do all they can to maintain flexibility. Using ElastiJoint provides the building blocks to maintain healthy joints and connective tissues.

  • 3.

    Branched-chain amino acids (BCAAs). These essential amino acids help prevent muscle breakdown and fatigue, promote muscle protein synthesis, provide fuel, speed recovery, and promote anabolic hormone production.

    The BCAA’s provided in BCAA Power drink mix are Ajipure™ brand pharmaceutical grade—the finest and purest in the world..

  • 4.

    Glutamine. Glutamine is the most abundant amino acid in skeletal muscle. Although it’s not an essential amino acid, physical trauma and tissue damage radically increase the need for glutamine. Supplemental glutamine helps reduce muscle breakdown and improve wound-healing10 – which makes it a “must have” for recovery from physical trauma.

    GlutaLean™ contains only pure pharmaceutical grade L-glutamine – the best available on the market.

  • 5.

    Omega-3 fatty acids. The omega-3 essential fatty acids are linked to a range of beneficial effects. They enhance immune function, help control inflammation, improve weight loss, and enhance cardiovascular health… and more besides.

    A balance between omega-6 and omega-3 fats is needed for good health. Unfortunately, the typical Western diet is dangerously unbalanced in favor of pro-inflammatory omega-6 fats.11 When recovering from an injury or illness, it’s important to make sure you’re consuming the right amounts of each!

    Using EFA Lean Gold™ is a convenient way to manage this, particularly if your goal is to stay lean while you’re out of the gym. In addition to providing balanced amounts of omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids, EFA Lean Gold™ is a source of conjugated linoleic acid (CLA), a compound shown to promote fat loss in clinical studies.12

    A fish oil supplement is an excellent idea also, as it is a source of anti-inflammatory omega-3's including EPA and DHA.

  • 6.

    Humanogrowth™. This powerful blend of pharmaceutically-standardized extracts from fertilized chicken eggs and bio-active serum albumin provides naturally occurring growth factors, immunoglobulins, and immune-regulating anti-inflammatory cytokines.

    In addition to facilitating healing/recovery, Humanogrowth™ helps support testosterone and growth hormone levels safely and naturally – without side effects.

Need additional tips or support?

You can get it right here! If you hit a stumbling block, have questions or want to share your progress, contact us. We want to hear from you!

"The Joint Recovery" Stack

Go to TOP
  • Sorenzyme™

    D.O.M.S. Recovery Enzymes

    More info
  • ElastiJoint®

    Joint Support Formula

    More info
  • BCAA-POWER

    100% Branched Chain Amino Acids

    More info
  • GLUTALEAN™

    100% Pure L-Glutamine

    More info
  • EFA LEAN Gold Softgel Caps

    Essential Fatty Acid Blend

    More info
  • HUMANOGROWTH™

    Growth Factor Formula

    More info

References

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  • 1.

    Norton LE, Layman DK. Leucine regulates translation initiation of protein synthesis in skeletal muscle after exercise. J Nutr. 2006 Feb;136(2):533S-537S. [PubMed] [Full Text]

  • 2.

    Venderley AM and Campbell WW. Vegetarian diets: nutritional considerations for athletes. Sports Med. 2006;36(4):293-305. [PubMed] [Abstract]

  • 3.

    Davis BC, Kris-Etherton PM. Achieving optimal fatty acid status in vegetarians: current knowledge and practical implications. Am J Clin Nutr. 2003 Sep;78(3 Suppl):640S-646S. [PubMed] [Full Text]

  • 4.

    Harris RC, Jones G, Hill CA, et al. The carnosine content of V Lateralis in vegetarians and omnivores. FASEB. 2007;21:769.20. [Meeting Abstract]

  • 5.

    Heart.org. “Trans Fats.” American Heart Association, 29 Oct. 2010. 3 Nov. 2011 [Site]

  • 6.

    umm.edu. “Omega-6 Fatty Acids.” University of Maryland Medical Center: Complementary Medicine, 17 Jun. 2011. 5 Nov. 2011 [Site]

  • 7.

    Bertelsen J, Christiansen C, Thomsen C, et al. Effect of meal frequency on blood glucose, insulin, and free fatty acids in NIDDM subjects. Diabetes Care. 1993 Jan;16(1):4-7. [PubMed] [Abstract]

  • 8.

    digestive.niddk.nih.gov. “Constipation.” National Digestive Diseases Information Clearinghouse. Jul. 2007. 12 Jan. 2012. [Site]

  • 9.

    labrada.com. “Winning With the Enzymatic Edge.” Labrada Nutrition. 28 Apr. 2006. 29 Dec. 2012. [PDF]

  • 10.

    MacKay D, Miller AL. Nutritional support for wound healing. Altern Med Rev. 2003 Nov;8(4):359-77. [PubMed] [Full Text]

  • 11.

    Simopoulos AP. The importance of the omega-6/omega-3 fatty acid ratio in cardiovascular disease and other chronic diseases. Exp Biol Med (Maywood). 2008 Jun;233(6):674-88. [PubMed] [Full Text]

  • 12.

    Whigham LD, Watras AC, Schoeller DA. Efficacy of conjugated linoleic acid for reducing fat mass: a meta-analysis in humans. Am J Clin Nutr. 2007 May;85(5):1203-11. [PubMed] [Full Text]


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