Replenishing your spent glycogen stores (with carbs) and repairing damaged muscles and tissues (with protein) after a hard workout will help you build muscle, boost the immune system, and get ready for the next day's effort.
Dr. Krista Austin, a sports nutritionist based in Colorado Springs who has worked with several Olympic athletes, including 2004 Olympic marathon silver medalist Meb Keflezighi, recommends that athletes consume a carb- and protein-rich drink with at least 1/2 gram of carbs and 6 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight right after they finish the workout. A smoothie, sports drink or chocolate milk are great portable options that are easy on the stomach, and also provide fluid to initiate the rehydration process.
The U.S. Olympic Committee's (USOC) team of professional sports nutritionists recommends dividing post-workout recovery nutrition into two stages. The first stage should occur within 30 to 60 minutes after your training session, and should include a carb- and protein-rich snack with 30 to 100 grams of carbs and 10 to 20 grams of protein (exact amounts are dependent on body weight). It's all about the protein and carbs at this point; according to the USOC, fat consumption should be pretty low in this snack—3 grams or less per 100 calories. Drink plenty of fluid: Chug 20 to 24 ounces of water for every pound that you lost during training.
According to the USOC, "A quick snack of the proper composition will do the trick. More is not better here."
The quick bites below provide the proper nourishment to help you recover faster. They also contain inflammation-lowering ingredients, such as pineapple, berries, omega-3 fatty acids and extra virgin olive oil, to help initiate the muscle repair and adaptation process.
Nut Butter, Cranberry and Flax Cookies
- 2 cups whole-wheat flour
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1 tablespoon ground flaxseed
- 1 cup almond, peanut, cashew, NuttZo* or nut butter of your choice
- 1 cup maple syrup
- 1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 1/2 cup dried cranberries