Don’t delay post-workout nutrition
By Brett Beil, CSCS
You just finished your intense strength training session or your long run. You are tired and thinking about checking messages on your phone or seeing what sports are on TV tonight. It hasn’t crossed your mind yet, but right now you should be thinking about what type of recovery nutrition you should be eating very soon. But don’t wait too long. You have a 45-minute window to get a 3:1 ratio of mixed carbohydrate and protein into your body — for every three grams of carbohydrate you ingest, take in one gram of protein. This ratio allows your body to take in as many nutrients as possible to:
- Replace the fuel you burned with carbohydrates
- Rehydrate lost fluids and electrolytes
- Repair and build muscles with proteins
Once the 45-minute window expires, your body becomes less and less sensitive to taking in these valuable nutrients. I have worked with many athletes who wait hours after their workout to take in even a bite. It’s OK to have different post-workout food preferences. What’s great is that today there are many recovery foods to choose from. I typically suggest chocolate milk — soy milk or lactose-free works, as well — to the student-athletes I work with, but there are lots of different options. Try mixing a bagel or a large banana with peanut butter; or prepare a smoothie with yogurt and fruit. Most often, I grab a bowl of cereal with milk. But you might choose a peanut butter sandwich with jelly or honey. These are just a few of the endless examples. However, there are two guidelines to keep in mind whatever you plan to eat: it must be convenient and available to you when you need it. So, please, plan ahead.
Take the time to prioritize recovery nutrition as part of your day. It is about helping you:
- Recover for your next workout.