Coaching Association of Canada

Fuel your Post-event Recovery with Carbohydrates

What athletes eat and drink after a competition or training session is just as important as what they’ve consumed before it. Providing refueling guidance to ensure proper post-event recovery and adequate replenishment of carbohydrate stores is an essential part of the coach’s role.

 

For rapid recovery, it is important that athletes refuel immediately after a practice session or competition, especially if another physically demanding event or training session is scheduled the following day. Athletes should drink plenty of fluids, at least 1 litre of fluid per kg of body weight lost during exercise, plus an additional 500 mL is recommended. This aids in the absorption and storage of carbohydrate.

 

As soon as possible after exercise, preferably within 30 minutes, athletes should consume carbohydrate and this should be repeated every 2 hours until the next meal. This allows muscle energy stores to be replenished at a faster rate than if the athlete waits until mealtime to consume carbohydrate-rich foods. Athletes usually find it easier to consume liquid carbohydrate (fruit juices, sweet drinks, etc.) rather than solid foods, since exercise dulls the appetite.

The following table shows the amount of carbohydrate to consume relative to body weight.

Body weight (kg) Approximate quantity of carbohydrate to consume up to 30 minutes after activity and every two hours until the next meal-time (g)
30 45
40 60
50 75
60 90
70 105
80 120
90 135

To help put the table into practice, here are examples of foods containing approximately 50 grams of carbohydrate:

  • 700 mL of sport drink
  • 500 mL of fruit juice
  • 3 average size pieces of fruit
  • 3 muesli bars
  • 2 pancakes with maple syrup
  • 60-gram packet of jelly beans or jujubes

Looking to add a bit of protein to your recovery food? Here are examples of foods containing approximately 50 grams of carbohydrate and 10 grams of protein:

  • 300 mL of milkshake
  • 400 g of fruit yogourt
  • bowl of cereal with milk
  • 300 mL of liquid meal supplement
  • 2 English muffins with peanut butter

Adhering to these guidelines will ensure your athletes are making the most of their recovery in order to replenish carbohydrate stores before taking to the field of play again. Emphasizing this positive recovery habit, and stressing that athletes take advantage of the immediate post-effort period to begin this refueling process ensures that their energy stores will be renewed appropriately for the next competition or training session.

Want more information on nutrition? The Nutrition module, part of the National Coaching Certification Program (NCCP) Multi-sport module series for coaches, will provide you with additional knowledge! Contact your Provincial or Territorial Coaching Representative for more details.