Recovery starts immediately after exercise. During exercise your body depletes its glycogen stores (carbohydrate stores within the muscles) and breaks down muscle tissue. Without proper refueling, your body can be left sore, fatigued, and wiped out. If you consistently fail to replenish your muscles with adequate nutrition you’re at higher risk for injury, your performance will stall or decrease, and you’ll likely feel over trained and sore. The last thing you want to do is halt your progress because you’re not eating right — You work way too hard to skip the essential step of nutritional recovery.
Your recovery cocktail:
Carbohydrate + Protein
Post-workout your muscles crave nutritional replenishment and will act like a sponge to soak it up. Simple carbohydrates with some protein is the optimal recovery cocktail.
- Carbohydrate replenishes muscle fuel stores, preparing your body for your next workout. This is a form of “carb loading” your muscle stores.
- Protein provides amino acids, the building blocks of muscle tissue, which are critical for building new muscle tissue and repair muscle fibers that were damaged during exercise.
Ideally, you should consume your recovery cocktail of carbohydrate and protein within 15-30 minutes of exercise—This window of time is when your muscles will maximize recovery nutrition.
Post-exercise snack ideas:
- Low-fat chocolate milk*
- Energy Bar**
- Recovery Sports drink*
- Protein shake (with carbohydrate such as juice or fruit)*
- String cheese and crackers or pretzels
- Yogurt with granola
- Cereal with milk
*Liquid forms of recovery nutrition are helpful if you do not have an appetite after exercise. They also encourage fluid intake.
**Energy bars are convenient and portable sources of recovery nutrition. For example, a LUNA bar provides 25 grams of carbohydrate and 9 grams of protein, offering a nice balance of carbohydrate and protein after a moderate workout.
Other things to consider:
Make sure that your continually replace fluids with water and electrolytes (if necessary). And don’t forget the importance of eating a healthy and balanced diet throughout the day with plenty of starchy carbohydrates, protein, fruits, and vegetables.
Maximize your training by properly refueling your body. Train your nutrition as you train your sport. Consistency and Commitment.
Becky Hellerstein provides nutrition consultations for adults, teens and kids interested in optimizing their health and finding nutritional balance. She believes in a lifestyle approach to nutrition, looking at the whole individual and working mindfully with clients to achieve their personal goals. Becky specializes in supporting kids and families in developing a healthy lifestyle. She also has a strong background in sports nutrition, eating disorders, pediatric nutrition, weight management, wellness/prevention, and metabolic disorders. Becky has implemented and developed weight management and wellness programs for schools and organizations throughout the country. She graduated with honors from Syracuse University with a Bachelor of Science degree in nutrition and psychology. She completed her dietetic internship at Bastyr University, gaining a whole foods and natural medicine perspective on nutrition.
Learn more about Becky and optimal nutrition at Focused Energy.