Apr 5, 2010

Recovery Nutrition

by Kate Thielicke, BS
Every athlete’s goal is to train like they compete.  But when you are going hard, pushing your personal limit one day, where does that leave you the next?  Sore, tired, and lifeless. 

That won’t work.  Our focus this month is on how to recover from workouts in such a way that an athlete is able to come back stronger and healthier after a strenuous, energy-depleting workout.  Our other goals include reducing soreness, promoting quick adaptations to training, and enhancing muscle repair by replacing fuel while rebuilding muscle.  All you need to remember are the three R’s: 

Refuel, Rebuild, and Rehydrate

Refueling is accomplished with carbohydrates.  As their main source of fuel, carbohydrates as stored by our bodies as glycogen to supply us with the energy we need to work hard and move well.  The longer and more intense the workout, the more an athlete has burned through their glycogen stores.  Getting carbohydrates back into your body as soon as possible after exercise will ensure a quicker recovery.  The key is to begin the process of refueling 15 to 60 minutes post-exercise. 

The rebuilding component starts with protein.  Getting protein in your recovery nutrition acts to repair damage to muscle fibers and promote the growth of new muscle tissue.  Numerous studies now cite the benefits of consuming both protein and carbohydrates after exercise because, so as to reap the effects of muscle building and glycogen replenishment.  In fact, chocolate milk is quickly becoming a favored recovery drink for its optimal carbohydrate to protein ratio. Other good ideas include protein smoothies,  post workout shakes, meal replacement shakes, turkey sandwiches with juice or a sports drink, and yogurt with fruit and cereal. 

The final “R” in recovery is rehydrate.  Make it a priority to restore the fluids and electrolytes lost in sweat according to your everyday needs and specific performance needs.  A good rule of thumb is to weigh before and after exercise, then replenish what was lost.  Be sure that you are not basing your hydration needs on your level of thirst, but know that staying hydrated before, during, and after workouts is necessary for peak performance.   

  • 15-60 minutes post-exercise: Begin recovery nutrition
  • Consume 20-24 ounces of fluid per pound lost during exercise
  • Keep a 2:1 carbohydrate: protein ratio
Kate Thielicke, BS is a Personal Trainer at Prevail Conditioning Performance Center.  Degreed in Kinesiology, Kate works with clients for general fitness and young aspiring athletes.

Contact Kate: kate@prevailconditioning.com

Burke, LM. "Nutrition for post-exercise recovery." Aust J Sci Med Sport. 29.1 (1997): 3-10. 
Carlson, Amanda. "Recovery Nutrition." Core Performance. 19 Oct 2009.

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