Hy-Vee Dietitian: Recovery Discovery
Whether you are an avid athlete or occasional fitness exerciser, you’ve undoubtedly noticed the latest hype surrounding recovery nutrition. The supplement industry is bombarding athletes with commercial recovery foods and fluids that are touted to offer the right combination of carbs and protein. All this hype creates questions from sports enthusiasts and needs clarification.
• Does every exerciser need to worry about recovery nutrition?
• Is there an amount of nutrients (carbs, protein, water and electrolytes) that will help an athlete recover faster?
• What foods and beverages will help you refuel?
• How soon after exercise should you eat?
Who needs recovery nutrition?
If you are a fitness exerciser who works out three or four times a week for 30-60 minutes, you can be less focused on recovery nutrition. Your body does not become depleted during fitness workouts, plus you have plenty of time to refuel before your next exercise session.
But, if you are an athlete who exercises to exhaustion, does two-a-day workouts and needs to rapidly recover from one exercise bout to the next one, your recovery diet deserves full attention. A few examples include; soccer players in a weekend tourney, swimmers competing in two events at a meet and volleyball players doing two-a-day workouts.
Nutrient Requirements for Recovery (carbs, protein, water, electrolytes):
• Restore fluid and electrolytes (sodium and potassium) lost in sweat: Weigh before and after exercise and replenish what was lost (approximately 16oz of fluid per pound of weight loss). A loss of one pound also equates to about 700-to 1000mg sodium
• Replace muscle glycogen stores by consuming carbohydrates within an hour post-exercise (approximately 0.5 grams carbs/per pound body weight)
• Provide protein within an hour post exercise to aid in muscular repair and growth and to stimulate faster glycogen replacement (10-20 grams of protein).
• Note: Aim for a ratio of 4 grams of carbs to 1 gram of protein (example your food for recovery may have 40grams carbs and 10grams protein)
Recovery Foods and Beverages:
• Your recovery meals and snacks should include a foundation of carb-rich foods and beverages: breads, cereals, grain, fruits, and vegetables .plus a smaller amount of protein (at least 10-20grams per recovery snack or meal)
• Here are some options:
cereal + milk
pretzels + hummus
baked potato + cottage cheese
pasta + meatballs
fruit smoothie (Greet yogurt + banana + berries)
• If you have trouble tolerating solid food after working out, experiment with liquid recovery foods, such as Instant Breakfast, chocolate milk, or fruit smoothies.
• Salt is often the electrolyte that is lost the most in sweat, so choosing a salty snack is a good idea. Some options include: pretzels, cheese, baked chips, and sports beverages.
Timing of Foods:
To get the best out of your recovery nutrition, aim to eat within 30-60 minutes after exercise. Eating within the hour still yields a higher absorption and uptake into your muscles, but after that there is a decline in the body’s efficiency in rebuilding and replenishing energy stores and muscle protein.
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