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Athlete’s Hack to Recovery

by Michelle Cesa

It is well known that motocross is an extremely intense sport, with much of the training consisting of aerobic conditioning. If you are an athlete, elite athlete or coach for this sport, it is important to make food choices that will optimize performance for motocross training and competition.

Focusing on the daily exertion and intense training put in by motocross athletes, which is primarily endurance-type training, high calories and specific nutrients are very important for relieving physical stress, ensuring timely recovery, reducing inflammation, and keeping the immune system functioning at peak. The impact of high intensity aerobic training causes the body to product oxidative stressors, thus resulting in natural free radical production. Athletes who engage in prolonged training have shown to have a reduction in their immune system function.

performance needs for motocross athletes are symbiotic to needs for almost every aerobic athlete.

The post-training regimen for motocross athletes is important to enhance recovery. Such regimens include consuming adequate amounts of fluids, carbohydrates, and electrolytes to aid in the replenishing of glycogen stores and electrolytes lost via sweat. It is also important to consume protein to aid in muscle synthesis. The types of carbohydrates and protein foods consumed have an immense impact on the athlete’s body and recovery time. Athletes want to consume low Glycemic-Index (GI) carbohydrates such as whole grains, brown rice, or wheat bread and lean protein foods such as fish or chicken.

Nutrients that have been proven in research to neutralize oxidative stress, reduce muscle fatigue, and enhance cardiovascular function and training in endurance athletes are antioxidants and polyphenols. Choosing foods rich in these nutrients will optimize performance and reduce inflammation in the body to speed up recovery time.

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The following are tips to increase intake of antioxidants and polyphenols:

1.) Eat a variety of fruits and vegetables throughout the week as opposed to consuming the same fruits or vegetables every day. The larger the variety of fruits and vegetables, the more variety of nutrients you will receive. Vitamins and minerals are not interchangeable; they each have a separate and important function within the body that all work synergistically together. Specific vitamins that are potent antioxidants include vitamins C, E, and A.

  • Vitamin C: citrus fruits, peppers, tomatoes, Brussels sprouts, broccoli, strawberries
  • Vitamin E: green vegetables (broccoli, spinach), nuts and seeds, olive oil, avocado
  • Vitamin A: sweet potato, carrots, leafy green vegetables, cantaloupe, pumpkin, broccol

2.) Omega-3 fatty acids are excellent to consume to combat inflammation and reduce oxidative stress, which aids in athletic recovery and injury avoidance. Omega-3 intake is typically low in most athletes and adults in general, so it is important to ensure adequate consumption of foods rich in these fatty acids. Contrastingly, omega-6 fatty acids are typically seen in high amounts within adults. Benefits of omega-6 fats include the lowering of LDL cholesterol and the raising of HDL cholesterol. Omega-3 fatty acids are more beneficial to athletes due to their strong anti-inflammatory properties.

Omega-3 fatty acids:  fatty fish (salmon, sardines, albacore tuna), olive oil, avocado, flaxseed, walnuts, chia seeds

3.) The last important nutrients to consume are polyphenol and nitrate-rich foods. These nutrients help improve oxygen and nutrient flow to muscles, promote vasodilation (increased blood flow), enhance glucose uptake, and increase muscle function (contraction and relaxation).

Foods: Dark chocolate, beets, dark berries, tart cherries, pomegranate, onion, glove, spinach, apples, beans

In conclusion, performance needs for motocross athletes are symbiotic to needs for almost every aerobic athlete. High carbohydrate and lean protein consumption in congruency with electrolyte and fluid replenishment are important for post-workout to replenish glycogen stores and fluid balance. Optimizing recovery and increasing performance are enhanced by choosing foods that contain antioxidants, nitrates, and polyphenols. These nutrients found naturally in plants, fruits, and vegetables have many beneficial antioxidants and hold the power to fight off inflammation, reduce oxidative stress and free radicals, enhance performance recovery, and aid in better immunity post-workout. Without a balanced, yet strict, pre and post workout eating regimen, motocross athletes will not be able to perform their best.

Michelle Cesa, Dietetic Intern
Keiser University MSDI

That's it for now, until next time, good luck with your training and remember, if you have a question, log on to the Virtual Trainer Expert Forum and have your question answered by a panel of experts. In addition, be sure and check out the Racer X Virtual Trainer archive section. Your complete one-stop information zone for motocross fitness. VT Signature

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