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Reduced Recovery Symptoms

For individuals completing sport and exercise, changes in hormones levels can affect the ability to recover after and between training sessions.

What phase of your menstrual cycle do you experience reduced recovery?

A reduced ability to recover from and between training sessions is in the luteal phase.

Causes of reduced recovery

Think of your muscles like Lego buildings. When you work out, you’re basically breaking apart some of the Lego pieces. Now, after a workout, your body needs to repair those broken pieces which is what makes your muscles adapt and get stronger/grow from training. This repairing process is called muscle recovery.

But here’s the thing: progesterone acts like someone who takes away some of the bricks needed for the repairs. It has a catabolic effect, meaning it breaks down stuff. So, when there’s a lot of progesterone around, your body can’t fix your muscles as well. It’s like trying to rebuild with some pieces missing.

When progesterone levels are higher it can slow down muscle recovery and make it harder for your muscles to repair after a workout.

Also, energy expenditure increases slightly post ovulation – therefore there are also increased energy requirements. If these aren’t met then recovery can be hindered. 

How to manage reduced recovery

Food!  Especially if you are physically active. Check you are eating before and after any exercise, more info on what to eat is available here

Avoid long gaps without eating (aim to eat every 3-4 hours). 

Include a portion of protein every 3-4 hours to support muscle recovery e.g. Greek yogurt with fruit and honey, milky drink, boiled eggs on crackers with some pepper or chilli flakes!

Failing to get enough nutrition around exercise can hinder recovery. You need carbohydrate and protein as soon as possible after exercise. 

Try a bedtime milky drink to support overnight recovery. 

Check in on your sleep quality and consider increasing time asleep to improve recovery (may need to add in naps to support this). 

Increase your intake of antioxidants to reduce inflammation. Inflammation is good, but too much can slow recovery. Antioxidant foods include oily fish, flaxseeds, fruits and vegetables, turmeric, garlic and paprika.  

Omega 3 supplements may be useful if you struggle with muscle soreness and are unlikely to get 3 portions of omega 3 each week. These can be purchased as batch tested supplements if needed for athletes. 

Ensure any high volume or intense training is spread evenly across the week.

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