Recovery is just as important as the training

 In Nutrition, Sports nutrition, Sportvoeding, Voeding

Unexplainable impairment of performance
People who have a high volume and high intensity training schedule can suddenly experience an unexplainable overall impairment of performance, continuous fatigue or decrease of muscle mass. Perhaps you might be dealing with overreaching or even overtraining. It’s important to understand what overreaching and overtraining is, so you can recognize it, but rather prevent it.

Overreaching en overtraining
In short, overtraining is a disbalance between training sessions and recovery. A precursor of overtraining is overreaching, which can be subdivided between functional and non-functional. What’s the difference?

  • Overreaching is an accumulation of stress (training and non-training related) that results in a short-term reduction in performance (with or without additional symptoms). Recovery can take days to weeks.
  • Functional overreaching: very high level of fatigue, but supercompensation* still occurs;
  • Non-functional overreaching: Very intense level of intense fatigue (more than with functional overreaching), and no supercompensation* occurs after recovery.
  • Overtraining or the overtraining syndrome is an accumulation of stress (training and non-training related) that results in a long-term reduction in performance (with or without additional symptoms). Recovery may take weeks to months (1.2).

*supercompensation = the body’s mechanism to tune to a higher level after challenging training sessions and optimal recovery.

Common symptoms/signs of overtraining:

  •  Muscular weakness and muscle aches
  • Long-term performance reduction
  • Reduced appetite
  • Poor sleep
  • Concentration loss
  • Intense continuous fatigue

Do you suspect you’re dealing with overreaching of overtraining? Talk to your (sports) physician!

Recovery is just as important as your training sessions
Overtraining can be the result of a sharp increase in the intensity and volume of the training sessions followed by an incomplete recovery. Non-sports related stress factors, such as stressful jobs or home situations, can also prevent recovery and are co-responsible for overtraining.
How do you prevent overtraining? Make sure that you get the best possible recovery and in any case take note of the following points:

  • Recovery meal
    What you eat after your training or competition is important. This is the fuel that will restore your body and its shortages. So, provide yourself a balanced recovery meal with sufficient protein, carbohydrate and fluids.
  • Sleep and rest
    Rest is essential. During rest the muscles can restore and stress can be eliminated. Resting doesn’t mean you have to stay in bed all day. Active rest with mild cardio, such as walking, cycling or swimming, promotes blood circulation and thus recovery. Also ensure enough sleep. Young athletes need 9-10 hours sleep per night. Give sleep the attention it deserves and develop a sleeping ritual.

Do you want to know how to eat for optimal recovery? Sports nutrition is custom work. Ask for the options by sending an e-mail to We will be happy to get you in contact with the certified sports dietitian.


  1. Halson SL, Jeukendrup AE. Does overtraining exist?. An analysis of overreaching and overtraining research. Sports medicine 34(14):967-981.2004
  2. Meeusen R, Duclos M, Foster C, Fry A, Gleeson M, Niemand D et al. Prevention, diagnosis and treatment of the overtraining syndrome: joint consensus statement of the European college of sports science and teh american college of sports medicine. Medicine and science in sports and exercise 45(1): 186-205. 2013
Dietitian(RD, BSc), Sport performance dietitian (CSSD) and NSCA-CPT.

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