If you are training every day or sometimes twice a day, there is one part of your diet that will make or break your stamina and performance by the end of the week. Unfortunately, most athletes overlook this critical part of sport nutrition: RECOVERY Nutrition. Having a recovery snack immediately after training will speed up your recovery, so your legs are ready to do it all over again tomorrow.
If you notice that you feel dead after a heavy training day and your legs feel like wet noodles early into the next day’s practice, that is most definitely a sign that you missed your recovery snacks yesterday. When we use recovery nutrition regularly, we are able to delivery a consistent performance across all practices in the week.
The main purpose of recovery snacks after training is to refill your muscle glycogen stores, the muscle's gas tank, so that it is full for your next training session. This will give your legs a boost tomorrow so that you can go longer and faster at your next practice. An added bonus is that having this snack right after training stops the post exercise breakdown of muscle tissue and starts the muscle building process, giving your muscles the chance to grow in response to your training.
The challenge is that you must have your recovery snack within 30 minutes of the end of practice or training. The clock starts as soon as you do your cool down. Even the most prepared athletes often don’t get home for their next meal within 30 minutes of finishing training. So, you need to have that recovery snack ready to eat or drink before stretching, rolling out, showering and driving home.
The ideal recovery snack has a 1:4 ratio of protein to carbs, with about 10-15g protein and 30-50g carbs. Great recovery snacks are smoothies, energy bars, toast and peanut butter, yogurt and fruit, chocolate milk or overnight oats. If you have trouble having real food ready for after training, then you may be interested in a recovery shake powder that you can just mix with water. Talk to a sport dietitian about what is the best recovery snack for your training and performance goals.
Cristina Sutter, MHSc., RD