Thursday, January 7, 2010

What should I eat to recover after exercise?

The Basics
from Beginner Triathlete


Q. What should I eat to recover after exercise?
A. After a moderate workout, you need not worry about rapidly refueling because your muscles are not depleted. But if you have done exhaustive exercise, you should plan to replace carbs, water and sodium as soon as tolerable—particularly if you will be exercising again within 6 hours. Adding a little protein to the recovery meal or snack helps repair damaged muscle, reduce soreness, and also enhance glycogen replacement in athletes who neglect to eat enough carbs:

  • For a 150-pound athlete, the recommended carb dose for rapid recovery is ~300-calories every 2 hours for 4-6 hours.

  • A wise protein target is about 15 to 30 grams protein for a 150-lb athlete, taken right after (and/or during) exercise.
    (More precisely: 0.5 g carb/lb and 0.1-0.2 g protein/lb)

Simple suggestions include 16-ounces of chocolate milk; a handful of pretzels and a yogurt; a meal such as cereal with milk, Carnation Instant Breakfast, or a shake made with milk, powdered milk and a big banana or other fruit.


Timing may be more important than the actual amount of food consumed. Your best bet is to time your meals to your training, so you eat a meal after a hard workout.

Nancy Clark, MS, RD, CSSD (Board Certified Specialist in Sports Dietetics) counsels both casual and competitive athletes in her private practice at Healthworks, the premier fitness center in Chestnut Hill MA (617-383-6100). Her Sports Nutrition Guidebook, and food guides for marathoners, new runners, and cyclists are available via www.nancyclarkrd.com. See also www.sportsnutritionworkshop.com.

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