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3 golden nutrition rules to follow when recovering from a workout

Rebuild, replenish and rehydrate.

Image: Mike Egerton

NUTRITION IS ONE of, if not the most important parts of the recovery process.

It is often misunderstood and neglected, many people just focus on their pre-training nutrition and neglect it post training. Any form of training or physical stress merely creates a catabolic environment in the body.

This is why nutrition and other factors are so important because they can enable the body to recover and ideally super compensate.

The three main areas to look at are: rebuild, replenish and rehydrate.


Food-The Humble Chicken Breast Source: AP/Press Association Images


Training will damage muscle tissue. This will vary depending on the type, intensity and volume of training completed, but it can’t really be avoided. In the post training window, it is essential that an athlete provides their body with enough protein to repair damaged muscle tissue and build new tissue.

The daily and weekly intake of protein will also limit protein breakdown during intense training. The timing of this protein intake is much discussed but it is always a good habit to take in protein as soon as possible post training.

Most people will be familiar with the 45 minute window post-training for protein intake to optimise recovery. This is a good habit for all to follow.

Quantity will vary depending on gender, body weight and type of training but 15g for females and 25g for males of protein is a good target for most. This can be in the form of a supplement but always choose real food when it’s a viable solution.


Food KitchenWise Breakfast Spaghetti Source: AP/Press Association Images


The role and importance of carbohydrates is a much debated topic within sports nutrition circles these days. There tends to be two distinct schools of thought on this, both with very strong views.

What we would say is that you have to look at the source of information closely before taking it as suitable to you. Generally a lot of the information on social media, blogs etc are coming from the fitness industry where aesthetics are the number one priority.

People forget that fitness competitors do not walk around everyday with perfect 6 pack abs and that they generally feel awful and dehydrated for competitions, photo shoots etc.

We always find athletes can be mislead by following the advice of a guru online that is only interested in improving someone’s body composition. This is a constant challenge when working with athletes.

Make no mistake, if you participate in any kind of sport or regularly hit the gym for high intensity workouts, then carbohydrates are your friend. Knowing when and how much to use is the key to unlocking their potential. Your carbohydrate intake will depend on a number of factors and should differ from day to day. This difference is strongly dictated by your training output. Your body composition goal, weight, tolerance and timing will all be factors too.

When we train, particularly high intensity training, carbohydrates are our body’s main fuel source. It is important we replenish our glycogen stores post training to promote optimal recovery. You really don’t need to go mad on energy drinks and refined sugars here. Fruit is something that we always recommend post training.


Athletics - 2013 Virgin London Marathon - London Source: Mike Egerton


Being dehydrated can have a severe impact on athletic performance. If an athlete is dehydrated by as little as 2%, it has been shown to have a negative effect on skill execution and decision making. This is one of the easiest and cheapest things for an athlete to control.

Prevention rather than treatment is essential with hydration so adequate daily water intake is recommended to ensure that you are hydrated going into training or games. For each kilogram of weight you lose through fluids during a training session or game, you need 1.5 litres of water to ensure that you rehydrate sufficiently.

Other factors such as salts and electrolytes will also be beneficial so we recommend the use of an electrolyte replacement sachet post training, particularly if there is a lot of fluid lost.

In association with Elite Physical Prep. Check out their websiteTwitter or Facebook for more information.

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About the author:

The42 Team

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