Nutrition for Recovery: Post-Exercise

Mobile Personal Training

Last week we spoke about what to eat prior to exercise, this week we will focus on what things to eat after exercise.

Post-exercise nutrition is important for the body to adapt to stresses of exercise and recover for next session. The three main aims for post-exercise nutrition are:

  1. Glycogen replenishment (CHO)
  2. Muscle repair and growth (protein)
  3. Fluid and electrolyte replacement


Glycogen Replenishment

  • CHO most important fuel source
  • Amount required depends on exercise duration and intensity
  • First 30 minutes post exercise is most important for refuelling
  • High GI foods initially
  • Low to moderate GI for rest of the day

CHO amounts

  • Low intensity sessions < 60 minutes
  • 30-50g CHO for first 0-2 hours
  • 5-7g/kg CHO for the day
  • High intensity sessions > 60 minutes
  • 50g CHO per hour for first 0-2 hours
  • 7-10g/kg for the day

Suggested post-exercise snacks (containing 50 g CHO)

  • jam or honey sandwich
  • 2 cups of cereal or 6 Vitabrits with milk
  • 2-3 muesli bars
  • baked beans on 2 slices of toast
  • 2 crumpets with jam or honey
  • 1 large fruit scone or scroll with jam
  • salad sandwich and a piece of fruit
  • 700-800ml sports drink

Muscle repair and growth (protein)

  • Protein for muscle repair and to stimulate muscle growth
  • Consume in small amounts
  • eggs on toast
  • nuts sprinkled on cereal
  • yogurt
  • protein bars (watch calorie content)

Fluid and electrolyte replacement

  • Drink 150% of fluid lost during exercise i.e. 1kg body weight loss = 1L loss
  • Replace electrolytes after excessive sweating. Sports drinks such as Gatorade and Powerade are they best for achieving this
  • Avoid alcohol and caffeine post exercise

It is extremely important to consume the proper foods and drinks post exercise. The first 30 minutes is the most crucial time to restore your glycogen (CHO) stores which have been depleted. If you do not replenish your glycogen stores then you will be low on energy for the next couple of days. Another important part of post- exercise nutrition is to re hydrate. During exercise you can lose up to 2 kg of fluid, this fluid contains important electrolytes which help the body function properly, so it is important that you replace what is lost during sweat. So after a hard training session or competitions make sure you consume a meal high in CHO and protein and drink lots of fluid.

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