5 Weeks to Go!
Nutrition Tips Series
Developed by Lisa Lovejoy, Sports & Wellness Dietitian
The food choices you make (or donâ€™t make!) after a workout are just as important as your pre-workout meal or snack. If you are a recreational exerciser who works out a few times per week, you should have plenty of time for your muscle energy stores to recover before your next workout. Competitive athletes who train once or twice daily need to pay more attention to the timing of their recovery meals and snacks. If you do work out once or twice daily for most days of the week, your food choices following your workouts need to be able to replace muscle and liver glycogen (stored carbohydrate). To replace glycogen stores, you need to eat carbohydrate rich foods. If you consume carbohydrates within 15-60 minutes after you stop exercising, your body is actually able to replace depleted stores faster than if you wait for a longer period of time. A bit of protein (15-25 grams) can also help enhance recovery and glycogen repletion. It takes up to 48 hours to fully replenish muscle glycogen stores, so ideally, your overall diet should be rich in carbohydrates (50-65% of total calories).
Enjoying a dairy product like chocolate milk or flavored yogurt can be a tasty way to meet your needs (the extra carbohydrates provided by the added sugar provides the ideal ratio of carbohydrates to protein).
Other food options for recovery include:
Fruit or juice and string cheese
Whole grain cereal with milk
A commercial sports beverage or bar
A fruit smoothie made with milk/yogurt or a dairy alternative (rice/soy milk)
A peanut butter and jelly/honey sandwich
Hummus with crackers or veggies
Cottage cheese and fruit
Again, personal tolerance/preferences vary widely, so be sure to experiment and figure out what works best for you!