Refuelling after a grueling session or a big game can sometimes be tough. Either you smashed yourself to your limits and you are too tired to make something to eat, or it could be the excitement after a fantastic game, and you have post-game jitters. No matter the case, refuelling is very important for your body’s recovery.
Following exercise, muscle glycogen stores are low and will need to be replenished prior to the next training session or activity. Inadequate refuelling can lead to increased fatigue and can compromise your performance next session.
The faster refuelling starts, the better. There is a decent window of opportunity for muscle glycogen synthesis—approximately one to two hours following exercise. However, it is thought to be most optimal at around twenty minutes after activity; the amount required depends on your body. One gram per kilogram of carbohydrate and around twenty grams of protein is recommended, with a minimum of fifty grams of carbohydrate and ten grams of protein being ideal. The amount you need may vary according to your current goals (e.g. weight loss, maintenance, gain).
Research shows that having carbohydrates and protein together reduces the amount of protein breakdown and can further aid in recovery. Good quality protein, ideally of animal origin is recommended, as this is digested better by the body and provides all of the essential amino acids the body needs.
Below is a list of recovery snacks providing approximately fifty grams of carbohydrates and a good amount of high quality protein.
- 600 ml low-fat chocolate milk
- Fruit smoothie: 300 ml reduced-fat milk, 2 tablespoons yoghurt, 1 cup berries, and a drizzle of honey
- 2 Up and Gos
- Chobani flavored yogurt and a large banana
- 2 crumpets with natural nut butter spread and a 300 ml glass of milk
- 2 eggs on grain toast
- Bread roll with 40g cheese or chicken and a banana or tub of low fat yogurt
We can’t forget about hydration! Most people finish a training session or game in some sort of fluid deficit. Approximately 150 % of fluid lost (usually via perspiration) needs to be replaced within four to six hours post-exercise. It is recommended to regularly sip fluid in the hours following exercise and consume fluid with every meal. This is also why chocolate milk can be a great recovery snack—you are getting some of the hydration needed too!
(Thank you AIS Sports Nutrition information for the information in this blog post)