Nutrition is important both before and after you exercise. Drinking or eating the right meal after exercise can help your body recover while you are preparing for the next practice or game.

Three Goals of Post-Workout Nutrition

1. Rehydrate

Athletes lose plenty of fluids and electrolytes through sweat during training and games. It is important to rehydrate with water or, when necessary, with electrolyte-containing fluids. For each pound of water lost during training, you should drink 20 to 24 ounces of fluid. Once you are rehydrated, your urine should be clear or similar to the color of lemonade.

2. Replenish

When exercising at a high intensity or for an extended period of time, athletes are forced to use up much of their stored carbohydrates in the form of glycogen. In order to replenish glycogen, you should consume a high-carbohydrate meal or a recovery drink soon after exercising.

3. Repair

Training and matches can put a great deal of stress and damage on muscle tissue. Consuming moderate amounts of protein directly following exercise helps repair and rebuild muscle tissue.

What to Eat and Drink

It is important to choose the appropriate food and drink for your post-exercise refueling. You should aim for plenty of fluids and carbohydrates, along with moderate amounts of protein.

Timing

For optimal recovery, it is best to consume something within the first 30 minutes to one hour following exercise. Because rapid recovery is the goal, it is best to avoid large amounts of fat or fiber, which can slow digestion and the recovery process. Immediately following exercise, aim for 0.45 to 0.7 grams of carbohydrate per pound of body weight.

Liquids and solids work equally well, but most athletes prefer liquids immediately following exercise due to a lack of hunger. Your recovery meal should also include approximately 0.1 to 0.15 grams of protein per pound of body weight. As an example, an athlete weight 165 pounds should consume approximately 75 grams of carbs and 20 grams of protein immediately following a game or training.

Examples

  • Gatorade Recover plus a slice of bread with jelly
  • 16-ounce low-fat chocolate milk plus 1 large fruit
  • A large bagel with jelly and a glass of milk

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