Eating for recovery
Updated: Jun 2, 2018
So you've done your training session or race, how do you get the best out of your recovery with the right foods?
The primary aim here is to replenish glycogen stores and optimise recovery. You need to do this before the next session, otherwise your performance in your next session may be impaired.
Refuel within 2 hours of the end of a session, when you are in a window of optimal glycogen replenishment; at 150% of it’s normal rate. It then drops but is higher than normal for up to 6 hours.
Aim for 1g of high GI carbohydrates per kg of body weight in the first 2 hours after exercise. For a 70g person this is roughly one banana or two oat based energy bars.
After this 2 hour period there is no conclusive evidence to say if high or low GI (Glycemic Index) food is best, so have some handy snacks. You should also aim for a further 50g of carbohydrates 2-4 hours post exercise, this can be as part of a normal meal.
What about protein for recovery?
Many scientists believe that exercise does not increase your protein requirements, but some sports research suggests otherwise
Even allowing for increased requirements most people eat far more than is required.
Two reasons why protein requirements may be higher for exercisers;
amino acids from protein are used during exercise to produce energy
protein use increases to repair and replace muscle proteins that are damaged during exercise
The protein requirements of exercise depend on exercise type with weight training requiring more than endurance training
General protein requirements are 10-20% of your total daily calorie intake, these are the guidelines for increasing this if you are doing a lot of training;
Low to moderate intensity endurance; walking, easy pace running or cycling
1.0 - 1.2g of protein a day per kg of body weight
Moderate to high intensity endurance; tempo pace running or cycling session
1.2 - 1.6 of protein a day per kg of body weight
Intermittent demand sports e.g. football, racket sports
1.4 - 1.7 of protein a day per kg of body weight
Strength and power training
1.6 - 2.0 of protein a day per kg of body weight
For a 70kg person doing low intensity exercises they would get their ideal amount of protein from eating 175g canned tuna (40g protein), 50g peanuts (9g protein), one egg (6g protein) and 50g soya beans (14g protein) in a day.
What's my favourite way of getting my protein intake, especially after a long training session or race? Cheese!