Magic Coins that Keep You on Your Diet

If I had a bucket of magic coins, and each time you felt liking quitting your diet all you had to do was reach in and grab one to get rid of those feelings, would you be interested? Couldn’t you then stay on your diet? Of course you good. Here is the good news, you can do it without the magic. The “coins” that keep you on your diet in real life are called recovery.

When you exercise, it’s like swallowing a stick of dynamite. Wastes build up, muscles are weakened, your nervous system is shocked, you get dehydrated, and stress hormones are produced. (1-8)  The traditional teaching then, is to push through this feeling and swallow some more dynamite on day 2. And 3, and 4, and so on (until you quit). In the 21st century though, science has shown us that this bullheaded approach is neither necessary nor effective.  The road to success is paved with changes harnessed through peaceful, individual recovery from exercise.

Golden background with natural bokeh defocused sparkling lights

These changes occur with a real time feedback loop that lets you know where you are, just like a bar in a video game that tells you how much life your character has left. That is, in many video games the main character runs around trying to beat levels but slowly runs out of energy, or ammo, or whatever. You have to find something to replenish them before you move on. If you just start the game and run your guy forward without paying attention to refuel options, you will pretty quickly die and go back to the beginning. Similarly, most folks mistakenly think that because you miss a workout, eat some cake, or feel like crap, that you should bail and start over some other time – when in fact you just need to find a mushroom or a magic coin to charge up.  These energy sources are available in life by delaying and modifying the next workout and supplementing your diet.  Likewise, if you ignore your recovery signals and hit the gym before these changes occur, you are sealing your own short term fate, and may end up worse off than when you started.

What is this timeline for recovery then? It varies. We know that muscles burn calories and synthesize protein for at least 48 hours after your workout, changes occur in your heart and blood vessels for 48-72 hours, stress hormones are up for 18-24 hours, and that inflammatory changes persist for 24-72 hours.  (6, 7, 9-12) All of these processes give you feelings of soreness, fatigue, motivational drops, or even depression. The key is to recognize this feedback, and time your workouts appropriately. Stop focusing on the undoable – and build a program around recovery.

 

 

 

References

  1. Morton JP, Kayani AC, McArdle A, Drust B. The exercise-induced stress response of skeletal muscle, with specific emphasis on humans. Sports medicine. 2009;39(8):643-62.
  2. Svendsen IS, Killer SC, Gleeson M. Influence of Hydration Status on Changes in Plasma Cortisol, Leukocytes, and Antigen-Stimulated Cytokine Production by Whole Blood Culture following Prolonged Exercise. ISRN nutrition. 2014;2014:561401.
  3. Coyle EF. Physical activity as a metabolic stressor. The American journal of clinical nutrition. 2000;72(2 Suppl):512S-20S.
  4. Godin R, Ascah A, Daussin FN. Intensity-dependent activation of intracellular signalling pathways in skeletal muscle: role of fibre type recruitment during exercise. The Journal of physiology. 2010;588(Pt 21):4073-4.
  5. Xing JQ, Zhou Y, Fang W, Huang AQ, Li SB, Li SH, et al. The effect of pre-competition training on biochemical indices and immune function of volleyball players. International journal of clinical and experimental medicine. 2013;6(8):712-5.
  6. Margaritelis NV, Kyparos A, Paschalis V, Theodorou AA, Panayiotou G, Zafeiridis A, et al. Reductive stress after exercise: The issue of redox individuality. Redox biology. 2014;2:520-8.
  7. Astorino TA, Schubert MM. Individual responses to completion of short-term and chronic interval training: a retrospective study. PloS one. 2014;9(5):e97638.
  8. Nascimento Dda C, Durigan Rde C, Tibana RA, Durigan JL, Navalta JW, Prestes J. The response of matrix metalloproteinase-9 and -2 to exercise. Sports medicine. 2015;45(2):269-78.
  9. Phillips SM. A brief review of critical processes in exercise-induced muscular hypertrophy. Sports medicine. 2014;44 Suppl 1:S71-7.
  10. Drygas W, Rebowska E, Stepien E, Golanski J, Kwasniewska M. Biochemical and hematological changes following the 120-km open-water marathon swim. Journal of sports science & medicine. 2014;13(3):632-7.
  11. Buchheit M, Laursen PB. High-intensity interval training, solutions to the programming puzzle: Part I: cardiopulmonary emphasis. Sports medicine. 2013;43(5):313-38.
  12. Neubauer O, Konig D, Wagner KH. Recovery after an Ironman triathlon: sustained inflammatory responses and muscular stress. European journal of applied physiology. 2008;104(3):417-26.

 

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