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To optimally recover from intense exercises and workouts, athletes must carefully select post-workout foods and recovery drinks. Consuming a mix of 10 to 25 grams of protein with 50 to 75 grams of carbohydrates within one hour of exercise is crucial for building and repairing muscle, replacing fuel used up, and preparing the body for the next workout session. Drinks are a nice option because they are quick to assemble and portable—and they can include all the necessary nutrients: carbohydrate, protein, vitamins, minerals and fluid.
Many athletes get in a rut, drinking the same beverage after every workout. Then, unfortunately, some get so tired of their go-to drink that they skip it, thus denying their bodies needed nutrients. For this reason, switching up your post-workout drink can be very beneficial. In addition, having a variety-filled diet is important, because no single food item contains all necessary nutrients.
Lots of ready-to-drink beverages are available at your local grocery store, including Gatorade G Series Pro 03 Recover, Muscle Milk and Cheribundi with Whey. Or, you can put on a chef's hat and develop your own recipes containing carbohydrate, protein, fluid, vitamins and minerals.
Recovery Drink Recipes
Here are a few suggestions to get your creative juices flowing:
- Pumpkin Pie: Vanilla Soy Milk, Canned Pumpkin, Pumpkin Pie Spice, Graham Crackers
- Java Joe: Vanilla Yogurt, Instant Coffee Powder (decaf or regular), Ice Cubes
- Berry Silk: Frozen Raspberries, Silken Tofu, Cranberry Juice, Honey
- Frothy Fruit Shake: Milk, Instant Pudding, Frozen Fruit, Powdered Milk, Ice Cubes
- Banana Cream Pie: Vanilla Soy Milk, Silken Tofu, Bananas, Graham Crackers
- Blend-o-Bar: Milk, Yogurt, Granola or Sports Bar of Choice
Even if you're not hungry, or you have a difficult time tolerating food or drink after exercise, consuming a small portion is beneficial. In a research study, one group of Marines was given 100 calories of a recovery beverage (eight grams of carbohydrate and 10 grams of protein) after exercise, while another group received plain water.2 Both groups participated in 54 days of basic training. Members of the group who drank the small amount of recovery beverage had 33 percent fewer medical visits, 37 percent fewer complaints of muscle or joint problems, 83 percent fewer medical visits for heat exhaustion and a lot less post-exercise muscle soreness. The research proves that athletes must recover with food or recovery drinks to stay healthy and perform well.
1. Clark, N. Nancy Clark's Sports Nutrition Guidebook. 4th Ed. 2008.
2. Flakoll, P.T., Flinn, J.K., Carr, C., Flinn, S. "Post exercise protein supplementation improves health and muscle soreness during basic military training in Marine recruits." Journal of Applied Physiology 96(3):951-56.