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Post-workout nutrition is essential for your body's recovery. Failing to refuel can leave you sore, tired and ill-prepared to handle the next day's training or game. Recovery depends on two nutrients in particular, carbs and protein. Your body needs both to recover and repair.
Carbs are necessary to replenish your energy stores, which deplete as you train. "Carbohydrates are the body’s high-octane fuel," says Jane Jakubczak, coordinator of nutrition services for the Maryland Terps. "If [you’re] not getting enough, [you’re] going to feel like you’re literally running out of gas." That means reduced endurance, strength and power.
Post-workout, protein is essential for repairing and building lean muscle tissue, which breaks down during intense activity. Protein promotes muscle growth and synthesis—a good reason to time your intake appropriately.
Start refueling within 15 minutes post-training. "Carbohydrates and protein combined seem to promote a better muscle-building response, but the window of recovery is short, about 45 minutes," says Rob Skinner, University of Virginia sports dietitian. "A carbohydrate-protein drink within 15 to 30 minutes post-workout and a meal within the next two hours will set you up for the next day’s training session."
Unsure about the amount of carbs and protein you should consume after a hard weight room session? Danielle LaFata, performance nutritionist at Athletes' Performance in Phoenix, offers a simple formula to drive your body down the road to recovery:
First, convert your weight in pounds to kilograms: (lbs)/2.2 = Weight (kg)
Grams of Protein: Your Weight (kg) x 0.3
Grams of Carbs: Your Weight (kg) x 1.0
The sum for protein should range from 15 to 30 grams, and the sum for carbs should range from 30 to 90 grams, LaFata says.
These results can be attained with an easy-to-make shake—e.g., per the following recipe, highlighted on coreperformance.com. It will benefit your body by stimulating recovery and muscle growth:
•1 packet EAS Myoplex Lite vanilla protein powder
•1½ C frozen peaches
•4 oz. juice