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Post Fueling Strategies: 3 Things That Can Tank Your Recovery

Katie Breazeale, MS, RD, LD

Recovery nutrition, also known as your post fueling plan, is essential to your training and performance.  If you’re in tournaments, 2 a day training, or daily training how you recover can make or break you. We are going to go through the top 3 habits that could tank your recovery.

Skipping a post fueling snack or meal

Skipping a snack happens more often than you think and it’s easy to do.  Post fueling, like any meal or snack, needs to be planned.  Ideally we want you eating within 45 minutes post workout. Your blood flow is increased and your body’s ability to absorb nutrients is higher giving you an advantage. Listed below are a few things to consider when planning your snack/meal.

  1. How long is the drive from the gym to work/home?

  2. If you’re showering and then heading to work or class you coil close an hour.

  3. If you’re going straight home, but have a 30 minute drive.

  4. Will I realistically have time to prepare something to eat when I am done training?

  5. If you’re going straight home, but need a quick turn around time to leave for work or class you may not have time to fix a meal.

  6. Is it hot or cold weather? 

  7. This matters if you’re keeping it in the car or gym bag outside because some foods will melt or become sticky.

Skipping, or missing, a chance to eat post training is avoidable.  Here are a few of our top gym bag snacks!

Underestimating what you really need.

A common fueling problem is knowing how much you need for recovery. How much protein should you eat post training, should there be carbs? The ideal post fueling snack and meal has protein and carbs. Protein should be 15-25  grams with at least 15 grams of carbohydrates. What does that look like? Chocolate milk, a protein bar, a fruit smoothie, or a Greek yogurt with fruit. If you’re able to eat a meal after consider; 

  • Whole grain turkey sandwich with cheese and veggies, whole grain crackers, and fruit

  • Chicken, pasta with marinara sauce, veggies, and whole grain roll

  • Scrambled eggs, bagel with 100% fruit jam, sausage, and fruit

While these ideas are for immediate post-fueling it is important to understand that recovery doesn’t stop there. It takes 22-24 hours to replenish glycogen stores and 24-48 hours for muscle recovery. How much protein and carbs you need daily will vary based on the sport and training schedule. Working with a sport’s dietitian is a great way to make sure you’re not underfueling.

It is not just about protein

Protein is the go to for muscle recovery, but it is not the only thing needed for your post fueling plan. You have just burned through your glycogen stores and to have more energy we need to replenish with carbs. 

Top Post Recovery Carbs:

You’re on track with protein. We need that to rebuild and repair the muscles. The goal is to consume high quality protein choices.  These protein options are complete, meaning they contain all the essential amino acids our bodies can’t make.  Complete proteins are found in chicken, eggs, soy, dairy, beef, hemp, and quinoa.  Leucine is an amino acid that is best known for aiding in muscle growth and recovery. Eggs, milk, chicken, steak, tuna, cottage cheese, and navy beans are examples of foods high in leucine. 

Top Post Recovery Protein Choices: 

Hydration is the final component for post fueling. It is key to rehydrate your body.  A 2% dehydration level in the body can contribute to a 10% decrease in performance. If you’re weighing before and after training you can get an idea of how much fluid you’re losing. Replace 16-24 oz of fluid per pound lost.  

Top Fluid Recovery options:

Bonus! Alcohol

Alcohol can tank your post-fueling recovery for multiple reasons. It dehydrates you, blocks nutrient absorption, and disrupts muscle protein synthesis.  Check out our blog on Alcohol and Athletic Performance to learn more in depth how it can impact your performance. 

If your post fueling and recovery is in the tank it can affect your athletic performance, muscle gains, recovery time, and much more. Contact us today if you want to improve your athletic performance, have a personalized fueling plan, and gain a better understanding of nutrition and how to fuel your body.

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