Consuming the ideal foods and fluids after your workouts is vital for optimal fitness. But figuring out what you should eat and drink can be confusing. I talked with KRON 4 Morning News anchor, Marty Gonzalez, and deciphered what to eat — and when.
Recover nutrition has two primary goals:
- To replace what’s lost during exercise, such as fluid and fuel
- To promote muscle building and repair
General Post-Exercise Guidelines
- Consume 1.0 to 1.5 grams carbohydrate (CHO) per kg body weight during the first 30 minutes after exercise and again every 2 hours for 4 to 6 hours.
- Consume 15 to 25 grams protein during recovery.
- Drink 16 to 24 oz. of fluid for every pound of weight lost during exercise
The Window of Metabolic Opportunity
After exercise, your body is starved for nutrients and quickest at absorbing them during the first 30 minutes after exercise and at two-hour intervals for 4 to 6 hours.
The earlier you eat carbohydrates within this window, the faster you’ll replenish your glycogen (energy) stores. Once depleted, it generally takes 24 hours to fully replenish these reserves. Waiting too long to eat can impair your performance and function.
Eating Carbs Immediately After Exercise is NOT for Everyone
Carb consumption right after exercise is important if you:
- Work out daily.
- Train or compete multiple times a day.
- Participate in high intensity or prolonged exercise.
- Have defined fitness, muscle mass, and performance goals.
If you’re an occasional exerciser or rest one or more days between intense workouts, nutrient timing isn’t critical, but the nutritional components of recovery are still required.
Be sure your intake of CHO is adequate and consumed within a reasonable time after training.
NOTE: In general, consuming a high CHO snack with some protein during recovery is a good practice for athletes and avid exercisers.
Planning post-exercise and post-competition snacks/meals to fit within the recovery window will take some time at first. You’ll need to figure out what, how much, and when to eat as well as how to make the food available after your workout.