Exercise recovery: The Do’s and Don’ts

By Angela Bentley

Date: June 2013

Many people on stringent training regimes are afraid of excess energy, which may cause them to gain weight. However, good recovery practices are essential for replacing fluid and electrolytes lost in sweat, replenishing muscle glycogen stores, repairing any damage that occurred during the training/ event and ensuring immunity. Better recovery and repair will also lead to more effective building of lean body mass, which will increase your basal metabolism to burn more energy! It’s all about timing and the type of food chosen. Below are some guidelines.

Do’s:

Carbohydrate

Aim to consume 0.8-1.2 grams of carbohydrate per kg of body weight within 30-60 minutes after exercise. For someone weighing 60kg this would mean eating or drinking 48-72g of carbohydrate.

Protein

You also require some protein within 30-60minutes after exercise for muscle repair. The guideline is 0.2-0.5g per kg body weight, with a maximum requirement of 25g.

Fluids

Good hydration is essential for recovery. Remember, even if you are not thirsty, if you sweated during the exercise, you lost fluids! It is a good idea to weigh yourself before and after exercise as the difference between the two weights will be due to water loss (through sweat/urine). Drink a minimum of 2 cups (500ml) of fluid for every 500g lost. For optimal absorption and to replace electrolytes it may be a good idea to provide for at least part of your requirement with a sports drink containing carbohydrate, sodium and other electrolytes.

Rest

Though many feel guilty about skipping a day’s training, rest is essential for proper recovery. Apart from the psychological benefits of rest, it also gives muscles the opportunity to repair, rebuild and strengthen, while at the same time providing time for your body to replenish glycogen stores and rehydrate effectively.

Don’ts:

Drinks

Avoid drinks such as tea, coffee, most soft drinks and alcoholic beverages. They are no good for recovery because they have a diuretic effect on the body and thus only worsen dehydration. Despite common belief alcohol is also a poor source of carbohydrate and suppresses reasoning causing bad food choices.

Timing

It is important not to wait until you feel hungry to eat your most workout meal or snack.  Your brain may not yet perceive your hunger yet, but the first 30-60 minutes after exercise is your  “window of opportunity” for optimal recovery.

FutureLife High Protein makes a fantastic post-workout meal or snack. Containing 30g of protein per 100g, it has been formulated with SmartProtein3D®which is a scientific blend whey, soya and casein proteins. Latest international research has shown that such a blend provides a more balanced amino acid profile. Due to the different digestion and absorption rates of the proteins repair also takes place over a longer period of time. It is also a good source of carbohydrates, omega 3, vitamins and minerals.