Updated: Oct 19, 2020
Over the past few years recovery has become one of the most important concepts in the fitness world. One might think that the type of workout, technique, intensity, and overall effort exuded during the workout might be the biggest factors in fitness, and they are right but with a twist. The frequency which an athlete can exude maximum effort during intense workouts is the differentiating factor. Okay, that addresses effort and intensity, but what about technique? If the technique is missing, injury will ensue and recovery time will increase negating both intensity and effort.
For example, a good athlete might be able to endure high intensity training 3 to 4 times per week, while a professional athlete can intensely train 6 to 8 times per week. Someone who has not been training might endure one high intensity training session and spend a week recovering. Please don’t misconstrue this and assume that the average Jane just needs to go crush 2 workouts a day for a few months and she’ll be seeing podium time at the CrossFit Games. The point is that pros not only train like pros, they recover like pros. The ability to recover properly and quickly allows them to train harder and more frequently than their competition. Therein lies the benefits of recovery. Trainers who can keep their athletes healthy and train them with high intensity, more frequently than their competition, will achieve victory.
Back to Jane - If Jane built up to two-a-days and really took CNS, muscular, and metabolic recovery seriously, she may not have the technique to reach the Games podium in a few months, but she would be one bad mama jamba. (I think!)
I get asked the question, “is CBD good for muscle recovery?” all the time. First, I don’t like the question. It should be rephrased as, “are non-psychoactive cannabinoids good for recovery?” Notice the two changes? First, there are 115 cannabinoids out there and a lot of them have some great benefits. Yes, cannabidiol (CBD) is awesome and one of the most prevalent cannabinoids in the hemp plant but there is a lot more to the industry.
The second part of the question that throws me off is “muscle recovery.” Recovery is not just about muscles! That is why I typed out the long-winded titillating intro. If you don’t think about the three major areas of recovery, you’re not going to be cultivating bigger, stronger muscles. There are three major layers to recovery: muscular, metabolic, and recovery of the nervous system. If any one of these three aspects are lacking, you’ll be in the creek of performance looking for a paddle (the definition of performance is unique to all of us)!
What is metabolic recovery? This is busting butt and fueling your muscles properly. Getting nutrients in your body when your body needs them. If you are not strategically consuming healthy nutrients, you’re not going to recover properly. While a “strategic plan” may sound like overkill remember eating healthy food when you actually need it is a strategic plan in itself. Spend some time researching this. It’s a great investment of both time and money.
Also, we are all different (thank God) and my diet won’t work for you and your diet won’t work for me. As Socrates would say “know thyself.” Biohack yourself and do what makes you feel awesome, don’t let someone else try to shove their plan down your throat unless you understand and agree with the plan.
Here are some quick tips (that I follow). Full disclosure – dieting has been such a polarizing topic for so long, I feel like I’m about to lay out my political views! So, I will say this: you may not agree with my diet and I may not like your diet, but we can still be friends. Workout supplementsSupplements work. Obviously we can’t dive into all of them right now, so I’ll just leave this one little tip about supplements. Use them as directed! If you are supposed to build up a tolerance to your pre-workout, do it. What good do your nutrients do if you have diarrhea all day long and aren’t absorbing any of them? Are you supposed to take a break from your supplements to ensure your body is taking care of itself properly? Is there a loading period?
I love breakfast. Actually I love breakfast foods. From a health perspective, traditional breakfast foods suck. So, make sure that a good potion of your breakfast is veggies. If you do this you can't go to far astray.
Try studying up on macro nutrients and counting your intake for a few days. I’m not a fan of counting macros as a lifestyle, but it’s good to know where you stand. Do you eat enough? Do you eat too much? Counting macros is a good factual way to find out.
Feed your body After a giant workout, eat! Eat healthy, drink a shake, and fuel your muscles. Breaking down your muscles so they build back up stronger and bigger than before is the hard part. Eating to give the muscles the tools to rebuild should be the easy part, but we often miss the window to fuel the machine. Experts say eating within 45 minutes of a workout will help with protein synthesis.
Prepare to fuel your muscles
Plan on getting hungry after a lot of physical activity. Don’t jump in the car after a huge pump or long run with no food. You could end up at a drive-thru window…
Electrolytes Getting to know what you need before a big workout is important. Some people need exogenous electrolytes. They sweat a lot of them out. Look up how to use electrolytes properly. If you need them and aren’t using them properly, your workouts probably feel pretty crappy. If you use too much, you may be experience some edema of your extremities or water retention.
And just like Mama said eat your veggies! Every diet (carnivores excepted) involves a lot of veggies!
Cannabinoids and Metabolic Recovery
Aforementioned in this essay, finding a diet that works for you is paramount to recovery. However, what about stomach issues like IBS, GERD, Chron’s disease, celiac disease and other issues concerning the digestive tract? These issues make it difficult to get the proper macronutrients into the body and send them where they need to go. Frequently people find a food allergy that is causing an autoimmune response and ceasing exposure to the allergen usually helps a lot! So if you suffer from stomach issue go see a doc and see if you have a food allergy.
Can cannabinoids help? Anecdotal evidence seems to show cannabinoid-based products do help with a lot of issues concerning the gastro digestive tract. A major reason to supplement with cannabinoids is to calm down and bring the nervous system back to homeostasis. “Did you say nervous system? I thought we were talking about metabolic recovery?” Righto. When the parasympathetic nervous system (rest and digest) is engaged it also stimulates the enteric nervous system. What is the enteric nervous system? Our second brain! The digestive tract. The bodies digestive tract has more neurons than the entire spinal column! In addition, the gut uses over 30 neurotransmitters including: acetylcholine, dopamine, and serotonin. Over 90 percent of the body’s serotonin and over 50% of the body’s dopamine can be found in the gut. The enteric nervous system (ENS) is powerful.
The enteric nervous system is stimulated by the parasympathetic nervous system (rest and digest). This aids in defecation and provides a nerve supply to the colon, rectum and anus. Conversely, the ENS is stalled when the sympathetic nervous system (fight or flight) is engaged. Beside losing all the nerve supply to the gastrointestinal system, blood is also diverted to the muscles when the sympathetic nervous system is engaged. What does blood carry? Oxygen. When the gastrointestinal system is deprived of oxygen for too long it messes up our gut’s bacteria. A lot of gut issues can arise from an imbalance of intestinal fauna and flora.
Furthermore, cannabinoids interact directly with the enteric nervous system. There are a lot of cannabinoid receptors in the gut. Supplementation with cannabinoids to bring the receptors in the gut back to homeostasis has shown to help with slew of intestinal issues. ApplicationI’m not giving medical advice. If you have a serious issue, consult with a doctor. If you want to try cannabinoid-based products for gut issues, use an application that interacts directly with the enteric nervous system, it will also go systemic from there. Use cannabinoids in a pill form, or use a sublingual tincture but don’t hold it under your tongue just swallow it. Remember holding a tincture sublingually yields a higher absorption rate, +/- 40%. While sending liposoluble hemp extractions through the first pass metabolism yields a +/- a 10% rate (depending on fatty contents in the stomach). This means you can dose a little more of the tincture when absorbing through the digestive tract as opposed to holding it sublingually.
While cannabinoid based products won’t help you grow and repair muscles, they may help if you have intestinal issues getting in the way of macro nutrients getting where they need to go.
Note -- Use a full spectrum product, researchers are finding some good benefits to the gastrointestinal tract in minor cannabinoids like CBG. Also, some people who lump cannabinoids together assume that if you’re an avid THC user you might be getting gut benefits from this. THC has been prescribed as an appetite stimulant to patients who have trouble eating after chemo or taking HIV medications; conversely, there is a syndrome call cannabinoid hyperemesis. This is usually found in long term daily marijuana users. Someone who suffers from cannabinoid hyperemesis will experience repeated bouts of vomiting! Not the goal here folks. Because the endocannabinoid system has such a strong presence in the gut, oral administration of THC can have a wide spectrum of effects. Additionally, more Delta-9 THC gets broken down in the liver than if you were to smoke or vape the Delta-9 THC. Delta-9 THC gets broken down in the liver to 11-hydroxy -THC, which is also a strong psychoactive. Therefore, people interact differently with edibles. People who have eaten edibles and have been strongly impacted by them often give me the hairy eye when I say, “cannabis extractions have a low absorption rate through first pass metabolism.” THC has a double whammy orally because it gets broken down in the liver to a strong (according to some a stronger) psychoactive, 11-hydroxy-THC.
Until next time, stay healthy, my friends.