Smashed your personal best and your body in the process? Here’s what you need to be eating to make sure your body is able to recover quickly and in the right way
Extreme endurance events, such as marathons, ultramarathons, ironmans, and very long distance bicycle races, increase physiological strain on the body. Obviously optimum hydration and nutrition is of crucial importance if you want to regenerate, recover and get going as soon as possible. You need to know what to eat and how to prepare the right foods – if you’re unsure of what’s required then you will be all the more likely to head to the local Chinese takeaway or burger bar for a quick carbohydrate (and not so healthy) hit. Deciding on your meals in advance of each workout will make breakfasts, lunches and dinners organised and less time consuming, and will ensure each contributes positively toward optimal recovery.
The aim of post-workout nutritional recovery is to:
- Replenish glycogen (carb) stores burnt during exercise.
- Replenish electrolytes lost through sweating and maintain proper hydration.
- Add a protein source to supply a fast release of vital amino acids to kick-start the recovery process, counteract muscle damage and stimulate protein synthesis. You should look to take on nutrients to kick-start recovery within the “post workout nutrient window” – which lasts up to 60 minutes post exercise – either through effective sports supplementation or home recipes.
If you are extremely strapped for time and are unable to cook or transport food, consider sports supplements. Consume a recovery shake in the 60 minutes after training that comprises both carbohydrate and protein. Look for a 2:1 carbohydrate to protein ratio and the inclusion of amino acids, electrolytes and antioxidants, which work synergistically to replenish muscle glycogen stores, improve recovery rate, and stimulate protein synthesis. Try also coconut water in your post-workout routine to re-hydrate and replenish energy stores. Coconut water contains natural fruit sugars that will replenish glycogen stores. Coconut water powder will also replenish electrolytes lost through sweating. Finally, look at adding supplemental vitamin C to post-workout shakes and smoothies. Free radicals produced during intense exercise create cell damage and delay recovery. Vitamin C acts as a powerful antioxidant to protect cells and reduce free radical activity post endurance exercise.
3 recipes to boost post-workout recovery
 Pina Colada Smoothie
This summer time special is a fruity protein take on the popular classic.
233 calories per serving: Fat 6.8g; Carbs 23g; Protein 19.9g
- 1 scoop banana whey protein
- 5g coconut chips
- 200ml unflavoured coconut milk
- 150g fresh pineapple
Add all the ingredients into a blender and blend until smooth. Glass up and enjoy!
 Almond Butter Jar
A creative way to make a great evening snack that will stop you craving sugary alternatives.
447 calories: Fat 16g; Carbs 53g; Protein 31.3g.
- 1tbsp almond butter
- 1 scoop whey protein
- 50g whole porridge oats
- 1tsp chia seeds
- 1 tbsp maple syrup
- 50ml coconut milk
Add all the ingredients to a small mason jar or container. Shake well or mix together with a spoon until ingredients have fully combined. Leave for 5-6 hours in the fridge (or overnight).
 Peanut Butter Protein Bars
Delicious, chocolatey, nutty bars that are easy to prepare.
Calories 137: Fat 6.2g; Carbs 11.3g; Protein 9g.
- 40g whole porridge oats
- 60g GoNutrition chocolate honeycomb crunch whey more nuts
- 25g chocolate whey protein
- 30g natural honey
- 30g dark chocolate chips
Add the peanut butter and honey into a saucepan and cook on a medium heat until it turns into a thin liquid. Remove from heat. Mix the oats and protein powder in a separate bowl. Combine all ingredients and mix well. You will now have a very thick mixture so 1tsp at a time add some water so that the consistency is still solid but more easy to mould – or if you want super sticky bars that don’t set as solid add more water (I prefer to do this when I want to eat the mixture almost immediately). Place the mixture into a glass container and press the mixture into a square. Heat up the dark chocolate chips and then cover the top of your protein bars with the chocolate. Now place them in the freezer for 30-60 minutes and cut into 6 sections in total.
EXPERT: ROSS BEAGRIE
Ross Beagrie is managing director of GoNutrition.com