Post Exercise Recovery Nutrition

The weather is beautiful and it is time to get outside and train strong and smart for all of your summer and fall endurance events. Whatever your endurance event may be, it helps to know how to maximize your time and effort to get the greatest results. It also helps to have enough energy left after training that you can still function and be normal for the rest of the day. We caught up with a friend and local dietitian and personal trainer, Lindsay Kay Kordick and asked her advice on post exercise recovery nutrition.

Sauce Headwear (SH): Do you have any magic potions that we can swallow after a hard workout? (Legal of course)

Lindsay (L): The best recovery supplement is actually not a supplement at all- it’s just balanced nutrition and hydration. Making sure that your body is fueled well prior to your activity and during can make a big difference in how quickly you can recover.

SH:   All the information we’ve read gives all kinds of technical details about grams of carbs per kilogram of body weight, etc that you should have after a workout. Can you remind us of those specifics for ENDURANCE athletes?

L:  Rather than doing a bunch of math, which may or may not be accurate or useful, I recommend people consume 60-75 g carbohydrate combined with 15-25 g of protein. Many endurance athletes will skimp on the protein, but it can actually help with carbohydrate absorption.

SH:  Is there a time frame that we should take in these recovery calories?

L:  In the sports nutrition world, we often refer to the “golden hour” as the time after exercise when your body will most readily absorb and store carbohydrates. I recommend that individuals keep this hour in mind, but don’t stop there! If you are fueling for another training session the next day, continue to be conscious about eating some carbohydrates every 2-3 hours for the remainder of the day.

SH: Do the quantities change at all if we are exercising for more than an hour? Or in the heat?

L:  Typically, for training lasting less than an hour, you shouldn’t need to put in too much effort to refuel. Think about refueling when exercise lasts more than 90 minutes. In the heat, being conscious about hydration is even more important than refueling.

SH:  What about water? How much water should we put back in our system after a workout if we want to feel good later and recover well?

L:  I recommend that individuals determine their own personal sweat rate during exercise.  It’s easy to do; you simply weigh yourself before and after your activity. The difference in your weight will be water that you have lost in sweating. During your next training session, try to replace those fluids during or soon after your session. The rule is to consume 20-24 oz of fluid for every pound of weight that you have lost.

SH: Do we need to worry about electrolytes?

L: If you are exercising for longer than 90 minutes or in the heat, you do need to consider electrolytes. Many people think that electrolytes are only found in sport beverages, but these nutrients are simply vitamins and minerals and can be found in food or other drinks as well.

SH: For those of us who don’t want to do the math when thinking of what to eat after a workout, can you list some great examples of the perfect recovery foods to eat?

L: Some good choices include bagels or fruit with peanut butter, cheese and crackers, chocolate milk, a turkey sandwich, Greek yogurt and granola, trail mix with dried fruit and nuts, or a smoothie with protein powder or yogurt.

SH:  We’ve noticed a lot of recovery foods people suggest are dairy based. Do you have some easy suggestions for people who don’t tolerate dairy well?

L: Dairy foods are great for recovery because they contain a good balance of carbohydrates and protein. Check out other nut milks, but keep in mind that most have fewer calories than cow’s milk.

SH:  We were joking when we asked if you have any magic potions, but are there any super foods that you would recommend for recovery or performance? Beet Juice? Chia Seeds? Ginger?

L: I think that everyone should experiment and find their own “super food” combination.  There are lots of claims out there that one magic food will be right for everyone.  However, with foods like beet juice and ginger, the quantity you would need to consume to refuel is likely pretty large, and most people don’t find those foods palatable in that large of a quantity. Just imagine that bat urine is shown to be the next big “super food”, but it won’t help you to recover if you don’t use it!  Being conscious over your daily nutrition, and getting a good balance of nutrients, not just on race day or recovering from a training session, will have a larger impact on your performance than any single food will.


Lindsay also looks great in our hats!

SH: Thanks so much. We love visiting your blog for recipes and advice.  You can go to www.eat8020.com to get all kinds of delicious recipes that Lindsay has created.  Lindsay believes life and eating well is a balance and we should eat 80% HEALTHY foods and 20% JUST PLAIN GOOD foods.  She also gives plenty of nutritional advice and workout tips on her blog.  Thanks Lindsay!