Many people realise that they need to consume something after exercise, but there is often confusion as to what because everyone seems to have a different message. A pure whey shake? A sports drink? Absolutely anything you can find in your fridge… Because you are starving! Exercise recovery nutrition is multifaceted and aims at returning your body to its pre-exercise state. This involves 3 very important Rs… refuelling the body, repairing your muscles and rehydrating.
Getting your exercise recovery right will:
- Facilitate muscle gain as a result of the training
- Assist in increasing strength
- Allow you to train at a higher intensity
- Have a protective effect on the immune system
- Prevent dehydration
Let’s take a look at exactly what you need and when.
THE DREAM TEAM: CARBOHYDRATES AND PROTEIN
For exercise recovery carbohydrates are good, protein is good, but together they are the perfect pair. You need both to get those muscles recovered properly! Let’s take a look at the role that each of them have to play.
Muscles develop tiny tears during exercise which can contribute to some of the pain you experience afterwards. Protein is essential for the repair of these muscles, which results in growth in both muscle strength and size.
The amount of protein required for muscle repair is between 0.2 – 0.5g/kg or about 10 – 20g protein. The exact amount that you require for recovery will be influenced by various aspects such as exercise intensity and duration, but should not exceed around 25g. This can be fulfilled in one sitting or partially as a snack followed by a meal within a couple of hours, more on this later.
Following exercise you also need carbohydrates, more carbs than protein actually. Carbohydrates are needed for the replenishment of your glycogen (energy) stores in your muscles as well as your liver.
You require 0.8 – 1.2g of carbohydrates per kg bodyweight for optimal recovery this equates to roughly 50g – 80g Carbohydrates for the average person. Again, this can be taken in all at once as a meal or as a snack followed by a meal.
REHYDRATE TO BE GREAT
It is no secret that hydration is incredibly important for proper body function and sports performance- you can read more about this on our website. Rehydration is therefore imperative for returning the body to its pre-exercise state. You should aim to start rehydrating directly after completing your exercise. For good rehydration water and electrolyte containing drinks will do the trick, but sports drinks can assist by providing fluids, electrolytes and some of those much needed carbohydrates.
To ensure that you are rehydrating adequately get into the habit of weighing yourself before and after training, any difference in weight will be largely due to dehydration. Drink 100-150ml for every 100g lost.
THE WHEN AND WHAT TO GIVE A SHOT
Your recovery nutrition should begin as soon after completing exercise as possible. If you are still sweating when you start eating, that isn’t a bad thing. The amounts required may seem a bit intimidating to consume in one sitting, so while they could be reached immediately with a meal, a snack followed by a meal will also do the trick. Here are some ideas for both.
- FUTURELIFE® High Protein SmartBar
- FUTURELIFE® Smart Drink
- Chocolate milk
- A smoothie
- A sandwich (think peanut butter, chicken, egg or cheese)
- FUTURELIFE® HIGH PROTEIN Smart food™
- Spaghetti bolognaise
- A lean burger with potato wedges
- Fruit salad with Greek yoghurt and nuts
- Burrito with brown rice, chicken and vegetables
Once you understand the principles of exercise recovery it becomes quite simple. Rehydrate, repair and refuel. Remember to prepare ahead of time so that you have something ready to eat when you finish exercising otherwise hours can go by before anything passes your lips.
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