The moment your training or workout finishes you enter the ‘recovery window’. The focus is to make the most of the training you’ve done, and then recover well so you can prepare for the next session. The recovery window is all about replenishing glycogen stores, rebuilding muscle protein, supporting your immune system and replenishing fluids and electrolytes. Let’s have a look at what to eat after training to maximise your recovery.
When protein is consumed, it converts into amino acids, which rebuild and maintain muscle. The human body cannot store amino acids, so these must be supplied daily as protein, from the foods we eat.
As an endurance athlete with higher exercise commitments in terms of intensity and duration the RDI is also higher and generally in the range of 1.2-1.4g/kg.
Timing of protein intake and quality are the key here. Consuming a good quality protein source within one hour of training will kick-start lean muscle development and will begin your repair process.
If you can eat a meal, include protein such as eggs with veggies on sourdough. If you are strapped for time an easy to digest protein powder is convenient and transportable – try a Bindi protein shake in the car on the way from a swim to work.
Recovery is not all about protein – it is also vital to replace carbohydrates in the recovery window as this will minimise the negative effects of exercise on your immune system and restore your muscle glycogen stores. Put simply, getting adequate carbs in will reduce the chance of you getting sick.
This can be a simple as adding a banana and milk to your protein powder to make a smoothie.
Fluids and Electrolytes
After exercising you will continue to lose more fluids through sweat and urine, so it is vital to drink plenty of water throughout the day. Monitoring urine colour and volume is a great way to know if you are hydrated – it should always be pale straw coloured.
You will replace some electrolytes through the food you eat, however after a long or hard session adding low sugar electrolytes such as Bindilyte can accelerate your re-hydration.
WHAT to eat after TRAINING?
- High protein yoghurt with fruit. Bananas are a great source of carbs and potassium, both of which need to be replenished after a workout.
- Low fat chocolate milk
- Chicken and salad sandwich on wholegrain bread
- Eggs on sourdough with veggies
- Protein smoothie: Banana, honey, milk + Bindi Organic Pea Protein powders gives the perfect ration of protein: carbs for recovery. Try our recipe here.
WHAT NOT to eat after TRAINING?
- High fat foods, whether they are healthy sources like avocado or coconut oil, or junk like hot chips, should be avoided after a workout. Eating fats post training will slow down your digestion at a time where rapid digestion of protein and carbohydrates is important. Here are some high fat foods to avoid after training:
- Nuts and nut butter: the protein is helpful, but not if is bundled in with a lot of fat like in nuts. Save these for later in the day.
- Red meat: red meats can be high in saturated fat and so should be avoided post-training.
- High sugar drinks: beware of grabbing an ‘off the shelf’ sports drink – these tend to be very high in sugar. After a long ride it can be tempting to grab a sugary soft drink which can be counterproductive. Also beware of over-the-counter smoothies which can be packed with sugar too. To avoid this, try making your own smoothies based on banana and protein powder.
Once you establish a routine for your recovery, it becomes a regular part of your day, and these small consistent efforts will add up to make a remarkable difference. Planning is key for the recovery window, so you have the best options on hand. Start with one step at a time… what can I do today to recover better right away? And chances are, you can improve your routine quickly.