Recovery is an important part of your workout regime. After a strenuous, long workout or event, have a snack within 30 minutes, followed by a meal within 2 hours. Consider the 3 Rs for recovery nutrition.
Recovery = Refuel + Repair + Rehydrate
Does your recovery snack add up?
Chocolate milk contains all the nutrients for recovery in one convenient package! Keep it cold in your team cooler.
Water contains fluid but that's all. It's missing carbs, protein, and electrolytes. To complete your recovery snack, add a peanut butter sandwich.
Fruit juice is missing protein and, although it contains fluid, it's missing sodium (electrolyte). To complete your recovery snack, add yogurt - and don't forget to pack a spoon!
Milk contains the nutrients for recovery but has fewer carbs than chocolate milk. To complete your recovery snack, add a banana or a handful of dried fruit.
A typical sports drink is missing protein*. To complete your recovery snack, throw in a small bag of nuts/peanuts.
*Sports drinks with added protein have been formulated but are not widely available.
Once you've planned a recovery snack that meets the 3 Rs, think about convenience, food safety, availability, expense, and whether or not you actually like it!
Can I add protein powder to my chocolate milk to increase my protein intake post-workout?
You can boost the protein in your recovery snack by adding a scoop of whey protein powder (which contains about 17-30 grams protein per scoop depending on the brand). Some athletes like to add whey protein powder to chocolate milk, shakes or yogurt post-workout. Note that there is no benefit to having more than 30-40 grams of protein at a meal or snack - despite the excessive dosages recommended on containers of commercial protein powders.
I like strawberry-flavoured milk better than chocolate milk. Is it a good recovery snack?
Yes. Other flavoured milks such as strawberry, orange or vanilla, also refuel, repair and rehydrate.
I know that carbohydrate stores in the body (glycogen) can be depleted following heavy exercise, but what activities count as “heavy exercise”?
Recovery snacks are most important after long, steady, intense activity (e.g. marathon running, cycling, cross-country skiing) and strenuous, intermittent bouts of exercise (e.g. hockey, volleyball, basketball, soccer).
Since fat is a source of energy, what about fat in my recovery snack?
Carbs, protein, fluid and electrolytes are the most important nutrients for recovery. Fat is not a major fuel during heavy exercise, so you don’t need to replenish it with your recovery snack.
I know that I should include some protein in my recovery snack, but how much is enough?
If you want to get technical, sport dietitians recommend including 15-30 grams of protein in your recovery snack. A 500 mL carton of chocolate milk or white milk contains 18 grams of protein, a 175 mL container of Greek yogurt contains approximately 17 grams of protein, and a handful of peanuts contains 10 grams protein. All of these are examples of protein-containing recovery snacks.
Aside from milk, yogurt, peanuts, and nuts, what are other examples of protein-rich foods?
Other options that can be carried on the go include: a small can of tuna or salmon (easy to open if you pick the kind with the peel-back lid), hard boiled eggs, or sliced deli meats (be sure to keep egg and meat in a cooler). And don’t forget to complete your recovery snack by adding some carbs. What to add? How about bread or a bagel to make it a sandwich!
Is coconut water a good recovery beverage?
Coconut water contains fluid and electrolytes, but almost no carbohydrate or protein, so it doesn’t refuel or repair.