Often, you hear the word inflammation and think of something terrible. But truthfully, your body experiences some pro-inflammatory effects. For instance, when you get sick. A massive release of white blood cells is released to attack the virus, which produces inflammation.
Or when muscles break down, they produce microtears on your muscles that produce inflammation caused by your training. The inflammation created acts as a signal to release hormones that rebuild muscles. Again, this is a perfectly normal post-training workout response.
Pro-inflammatory Training Effects
The inflammation process is how your muscles repair. For example, when you work out, you create micro-tears in your muscles, stimulating and activating the inflammatory process. This inflammation is good. It is pro-inflammatory. Importantly, this inflammation signals the release of growth hormone, testosterone, and protein synthesis. These two hormones are responsible for repairing your muscles. And protein synthesis uses amino acids to rebuild them.
- Growth hormone hits a peak about 15-20 minutes after exercise.
- Testosterone peaks in a more extended range of 15-60 minutes.
- Protein synthesis is elevated at 50% in the first 4 hours post-training. And spikes up to 109% in 24 hours. After 24 hours, it begins to reduce and stop within 36-48 hours.
Because these hormones are highly sensitive in the first hours of post-training, it is best not to interrupt the process. So, avoid painkillers like ibuprofen, as well as eating vegetables.
Vegetables Are Great for Reducing Inflammation
So nutritionally speaking, consuming protein and carbs like granola immediately following exercise is the best option. It helps with protein synthesis for muscles to rebuild and replenish energy in a big way. But hold off on the veggie consumption for now. Antioxidants are present in vegetables. And antioxidants are also anti-inflammatories.
So, after a workout, avoid eating vegetables for a few hours so it does not interfere with the muscle’s pro-inflammatory response. Wait until lunch or dinner so they can help naturally reduce and clear the inflammation after the hormonal release is finished. Inflammation tends to linger, and veggies are a great way to flush it out.
Chronic Inflammation and Stress
Let’s make it easy to understand and put it into one category. Stress is stress. The body determines it by what is happening inside. Acute inflammation is a positive thing. The problem is when inflammation becomes chronic and does not subside. When inflammation lingers too long, or you’re experiencing too much of it, it makes it more difficult for muscles to repair, grow, become stronger, and function well.
- Working out too much. Working out too much stresses muscles more without being repaired first. And produces more inflammation.
- Poor nutrition to repair muscles. When muscles don’t have protein to rebuild muscles, inflammation remains constant.
- Not waiting for muscles to recover. When muscles remain sore, the inflammation process continues without residing because you keep micro-tearing them.
- Stressful life conditions. Systemic stress affects your nervous, musculoskeletal, and cardiovascular systems.
The production of growth hormone and testosterone is suppressed when the body is under constant stress. Additionally, protein synthesis is inhibited. As a result, the body’s ability to repair and rebuild are diminished; therefore, muscles aren’t entirely recovered and restored. In turn, this causes your muscles to feel exhausted, weak, and prone to injury.
Exercise and training are powerful inflammatory stimulants. However, inflammation is a bit of a double-edged sword. You need it to grow and signal the proper process to make you stronger. But on the other hand, constant inflammation is detrimental. You want the inflammatory process to do its job and not get out of control to be a problem.
So, if you understand how inflammation works, you can use it to your advantage to recover faster and become stronger.