The winding down part is easy—a nice shower, an oversized sofa, maybe a nap. The nutrition recovery part, however, is more challenging.
Every athlete is different as far as what their stomach can handle after an endurance activity. On one end of this scale, we have those with "stomachs of steel" that can devour an order of cheese curds washed down with a beer.
On the other end, there are those who cannot smell or be around food for a while and are more likely to fall asleep before they get around to eating. The majority of athletes fall somewhere in the middle, each with their own nutrition recovery ritual.
More: Recovery Foods
So, what are some of the more recommended foods and beverages to nosh on after you've just spent all that time working your body? For endurance athletes, a mix of carbs and protein in a ratio of 4:1 respectively is recommended post-exercise to replenish lost energy stores and build muscle.
Here are some ways to fulfill your snacking needs and desires:
Chocolate milk has been getting more hype recently as a recovery beverage, and for good reason. Cow's milk has an edge over other non-dairy beverages in its protein composition.
Heavy on the whey side (fast-acting protein), milk has been found to stimulate muscle protein synthesis following exercise more than carbohydrate-only or non-dairy beverages. The addition of chocolate flavoring to milk ups the total carb count to meet your needs.
Mix 8 oz. of low-fat or skim milk with 2 tablespoons of chocolate powder, and enjoy.
If you're not a big milk fan, choose another protein source to add to a carbohydrate. Popular choices include:
- Nut butters
Combine any of these protein sources (roughly 2 oz. for meats, 2 tablespoons for humus and nut butters, or 1 oz. for nuts) with two slices of whole-wheat bread, pita, wheat crackers, or tortilla.