Replenish to Recover

Just finished a hard workout? Don’t ruin your hard work by grabbing that chocolate bar or can of coke.


Your post workout meal is extremely important to you – probably the most important nutrition that you take in all day! Here’s some advice to improve muscle recovery and increase your gains from your workout!


After working hard, the body uses up its store of glycogen and looses up to 2 liters of liquid.


Red blood cells and muscle are broken down and so you must replenish your body. The crucial time for this is the minutes and then hours after your work out. This time is key for recovery and performance.


Post workout recovery allows the body to replenish water and electrolytes that were lost in sweat. This helps with repairing the muscles broken down during high intensity of prolonged exercise, replenish glycogen stores in muscles and the liver and finally it helps to support the immune system to allow it to deal with the damage of training hard.


There are two stages to post workout recovery in terms of nutrition. Research suggests that the best time, i.e. when the body is most receptive to replenishment, is within the first 20-30 minutes after a hard work out. This is particularly true for glycogen stores.


This first and most important, stage begins therefore as soon as you enter your warm down. The second stage then occurs following this, within about 2 hours.


Different forms of training require different nutrients for muscle recovery. Weight training you need more protein, after cardio work you need to refuel with carbohydrates, and a mixture of weight training and cardio make sure to get a mixture of both protein and carbohydrates!

Glycogen stores are key to performance and so need to be replenished.  Some recent research has suggested smaller quantities of carbohydrate (0.8g/kg of bodyweight) with protein (0.3g/kg of bodyweight) following hard exercise as this combination has a similar effect to the previously recommended 1.2g carbohydrate /kg of bodyweight. as it stimulates the bodies insulin release with helps to replenish glycogen stores.


Up the protein as it ensures that catabolism (break down) stops and that anabolic (build up) processes can increase. These changes can continue for up to 24 hours post hard training and consuming protein can help with the process, helping muscles to build.

For continued high performance you must replace these = consume 130% of the fluid lost. This should be done within 4-6 hours following exercise. To prevent the fluids taken in from being excreted, electrolytes like sodium should also be consumed. It has been suggested that about 60mmol of sodium should be added to the fluid taken in. The sodium can be taken in via sports drinks or by eating foods high in sodium such as peanuts.


Dont always rush to for the supplements – real foods always win over supplements! They do not have the same nutrients and minerals in like whole foods.  However taking supplements such as pre-prepared protein shakes and bars, can help people who have a lack of appetite or time, so don’t give up on them completely, just don’t rely on them wholly for your recovery needs.


real foods always win over supplements

Immediately post exercise….

Quite often after a workout people turn to the shakes, which although are work and aid recovery there is a cheaper option which is just as good – or better! Chocolate milk – high protein and high calcium which aids muscle synthesis and glycogen replenishment. Other options could be a fruit smoothie with milk or greek yogurt? To enhance the recovery add  cherry juice or watermelon juice as they have anti-inflammatory properties which reduce muscle damage and soreness.


An hour or two post exercise…

A high quality carbohydrate and protein meal would be ideal.

Good sources of carbohydrate =  pasta, rice, potatoes and quinoa. Good high sources of protein include grilled chicken, salmon or eggs, nuts, cheese and beans

Whole grain salads; Jan'12; Quinoa black rice; FS=Kevin Crafts

A great meal to have after a hard workout could be a simple chicken with sweet potato and broccoli. This meal would provide adequate amounts of protein, carbohydrate and other nutrients to aid recovery.

 chcik 2

Rule No 1: NEVER skip your post workout meal! 

Rule No 2: THINK about what nutrients your body needs!

Rule No 3: REST & RECOVER for your next workout!