Recovery Nutrition after Exercise

What are the consequences of not following good recovery nutrition strategies?

  • ·         Tiredness and fatigue
  • ·         Increased muscle soreness
  • ·         Reduced performance at your next training session
  • ·         Reduced physiological gains from the session you just completed

Who should focus on recovery nutrition?

Recovery nutrition is especially important for people who:

  • ·         Exercise for prolonged periods of time (more than 60 minutes)
  • ·         Train at high intensities
  • ·         Have limited time between sessions, e.g.

o   two training sessions in one day

o   an evening session will be followed by an early morning session

o   competition with multiple events over 1 or more days


Nutrition has 3 main roles in recovery after exercise:

 ·         Refuel:  When we do intense or prolonged exercise our body uses some, or even most, of our muscle fuel (glycogen) stores for energy.  Carbohydrate consumed after exercise will help replace the fuel stores you have used, so you are refuelled for your next training session. 

 ·         Repair: Weight training or prolonged high intensity endurance exercise can damage muscle tissue.  Protein consumed after training will help to repair and rebuild muscle tissue.

 ·         Rehydrate:  Fluid and electrolytes (e.g. sodium) are lost through sweat when we exercise, which need to be replaced.  Water will be sufficient if the session was less than 60 minutes.  After longer and higher intensity sessions, a sports drink is a good choice as it provides fluid, electrolytes and carbohydrate.

 For maximum benefit, recovery nutrition should be consumed within 60-90 minutes of the exercise session.  This could be your next planned main meal, if it is within that timeframe.  If not, a post-training snack is important to get the recovery process started quickly.

 What are some good food choices to use for recovery nutrition?

  • ·         500ml of low-fat flavoured milk
  • ·         Smoothie made with milk, yogurt and fruit (e.g. berries, banana)
  • ·         2 pottles of fruit yoghurt and a muesli bar
  • ·         Bowl of cereal with milk, yoghurt and fruit
  • ·         Small tin of tuna, a row of rice crackers (~10 crackers) and a piece of fruit
  • ·         Small tin of baked beans on 2 slices of toast
  • ·         2 poached or boiled eggs on 2 slices of toast
  • ·         Protein sandwich (meat/tuna/cheese) with a pottle of yoghurt
  • ·         Peanut butter on 2 slices of toast with a glass of milk
  • ·         Tin of creamed rice