It’s not enough to just train. Recovery is what you need to actually get better as an athlete. If you take it lightly you will plateau or even get worse as you train. What you eat and drink is a big part of recovery and you will feel the difference if you do it right. Let’s look at the most important things to keep in mind.
Have a good baseline diet
According to research, the total amount of protein and carbs eaten in a day is far more important for performance and fat loss than any specific nutrient-timing strategy. So first of all, make sure your overall diet is good. Make sure to avoid sugar, choose slow carbs instead, have a good portion of protein in every meal, and eat plenty of fruits and veggies. Check out these recipes for a day of healthy eating to get started.
Start with the right pre-exercise fuel
Getting in some easily digestible protein will help preserve muscle during exercise and slow release carbs will also help replenish glycogen stores faster when you’re done. If you want to know how to do it right, check out our video on pre-workout nutrition here.
Stay hydrated during exercise
Staying well hydrated is your top priority during exercise because dehydration makes recovery much longer. Try to get in 500 to 1000 ml of fluid per hour of exercise. For long endurance training, it’s a good idea to add some fuel too. About 60 g of carbs per hour should be enough to keep your recovery time to a minimum.
Refuel 1-2 hours after exercise
When you finish exercising, your two goals are replenishing burned calories and repairing damaged muscle tissue. For that you need carbs and protein. If you ate normally 1-2 hour prior to exercise, then there’s no rush, you should have a good meal 1-2 hours after. The meal should ideally have a ratio of 3 g of carbs to 1 g or protein. But as a general rule, you can go with: 2 palms of protein, 2 fists of vegetables, 2 handfuls of carbs, and 2 thumbs of fats.
Have a piece of fruit immediately after exercise
There’s an exception to the 1-2 hour refuelling rule. And that’s when you exercised in a fasted state or had just a small meal many hours before exercising. In that case, it’s important to give your body something easy to digest within the first 15-30 minutes after you finish exercising. A piece of fruit is a great choice plus some supplemental amino acids if you have them. Of course, follow this up with a proper meal as described above.